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Blackhawks' Quenneville ties for 2nd in all-time wins

by Brian Hedger /

CHICAGO -- In a city that adores championship coaches, Joel Quenneville, who has led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup titles in the past six seasons, has become synonymous with the first letter of his last name.

Quenneville is better known as "Q" or "Coach Q," in Chicago because the Blackhawks have won a lot in his eight seasons as their coach, including those Cup triumphs in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

He has earned a spot on Chicago's coaching Mount Rushmore along with George Halas and Mike Ditka of the Bears and former Bulls coach Phil Jackson.

"Joel Quenneville is the guy that got the Blackhawks over the 49-year [Cup drought]," said Grant DePorter, CEO of Harry Caray's Restaurant Group and founder of the Chicago Sports Museum. "Once you do that, you can be immortalized in Chicago history."

Quenneville, 57, tied Al Arbour for second all-time in NHL regular-season coaching wins with 782 on Tuesday when the Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 at United Center. The only coach with more is Scotty Bowman (1,244), currently a Blackhawks senior adviser. 

Quenneville started Tuesday by getting a three-year contract extension that runs through the end of the 2019-20 season.

"What it all comes down to is how we compete and how much we want to win," said Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who has played a role in all three Cup runs under Quenneville. "I guess that's something that really stands out with Joel, is how much he likes to win. He always screams after games that no one likes to win more than him."

Rather than being content with winning the Stanley Cup, Quenneville has focused on adding more titles. His inner drive meshes well with the Blackhawks' core group of veterans, who have grown into self-driven champions during Quenneville's tenure.

"He's been huge for a lot of us, coming in here when we were at a young age," said right wing Patrick Kane, who leads the NHL in scoring with 62 points. "I think he taught a lot of us a specific way to play without giving away any creativity or freedom. You can look at many different things [he's done]. It doesn't ever seem he's up for the coach of the year award, and we all feel in here that he can be there every year and win that award every year. He's been great with us and we're very lucky and fortunate to have him."

Chicago, a city that loves winners, can say the same.

Since taking over as Blackhawks coach early in 2008-09, Quenneville is 344-168-69 in 581 regular-season games. He's 73-44 in 117 playoff games with the Blackhawks and doesn't show any signs of slowing up.

Asked how long he plans to keep going, Quenneville left it open-ended.

"Right now, we're having too much fun," he said. "So I'm not considering [retiring]."

That wasn't too surprising to hear; Quenneville's Q-rating remains high in Chicago.

His mustache has inspired its own Twitter parody account. His love of horse racing is well-documented. He enjoys victory cigars after each Cup-clinching game, and his in-game antics can be entertaining.

"You hear new guys come into our room and sit on the bench and they love talking about the things they can't believe come flying out [of his mouth], especially when we score goals," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "I won't get into some of the stuff that goes on between our bench and the refs. But he's got some great one-liners when we score goals. That definitely loosens the guys up a little bit."

Quenneville also has loosened up in Chicago, especially when it comes to practices and morning skates.

The Blackhawks get more time off the ice between games than most teams, which began during the 48-game regular season in 2012-13. With the compressed schedule, Quenneville decided extra rest was most important.

He's kept that theory the past two seasons and the Blackhawks have thrived.

"What I really like about him [is] he played the game and he understands how the players feel," right wing Marian Hossa, 37, said. "He's always reasonable with the time off from the rink. Sometimes coaches would make us practice and he says, 'No, let the guys breathe, take a day off, and I know when they come [the] next day, they [will] have more energy.' Most of the time, [it works] for this team. That's really smart coaching by him."

Fans like Quenneville's fire and brimstone better, which they get glimpses of from time-to-time during games.

What they don't see as much is his personality. Quenneville keeps a low profile, especially in front of television cameras, but occasionally lets his dry humor sneak out.

"[Quenneville] doesn't let that many people into his world like Ditka," said David Kaplan, a Chicago media personality who hosts TV and radio shows. "Ditka reveled in it. That isn't [Quenneville]. It's just not who he is. But if you get to know Joel he's a funny guy. He's got a great personality and just loves what he does."

Critics don't always love his decisions, but the results speak volumes.

"You know when they'll appreciate Joel Quenneville most?" Kaplan said. "When he's gone. When he's not here and the core [group] gets old and they're going through a rebuild. That's when [people] will say, 'Wow, we had one of the best coaches of all-time here.' So if you're a Blackhawks fan you'd better enjoy him now while he's here."

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