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Joel Quenneville adds to legacy with latest Cup win

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville isn't always the first name mentioned among the NHL's best coaches, but the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks bolstered his case after winning the Stanley Cup for the third time Monday.

After 18 seasons, Quenneville has an NHL coaching legacy few of his peers can match.

The 2-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center is the latest jewel, but his collection of coaching gems is gaudy to say the least.

Quenneville is third in NHL regular-season wins (754) and Stanley Cup Playoff wins (115), trailing Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour in each category.

Nearly a month ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Mike Babcock to an eight-year contract reportedly worth $50 million, which made some wonder what Quenneville might be worth on the open market.

"I think he gets a lot of credit, but I don't think he gets enough credit, if that's the word," said Jeremy Roenick, an NBC studio analyst and former Blackhawks forward. "I think with Babcock signing the deal he did, Quenneville should be licking his chops waiting for his next contract. He deserves to be having the same kind of money that Mr. Babcock got."

Quenneville's contract runs through the 2016-17 season, which means he'll likely pass Arbour for second place in regular-season and playoff victories. He might even have a fourth championship to his credit, the way things are going for the Blackhawks.

"I think you got to evolve a little bit with the way the game has changed, but [we've] pretty well kept the same approach, how we work with players, how we deal with individuals [and] communication lines," Quenneville said. "The important thing is, it's about the team, accountability. A lot of things go into it. To me, it's never about me. It's about the group around us. [You] try to maximize everybody's effectiveness. Team comes first; go from there."

Quenneville isn't afraid to make tough calls if he feels it's best for his team, and he's not against bruising a few egos.

"He's not there to be the players' friend," Roenick said. "He cares about the players. I think he cares about them personally, he cares about them professionally, but he's not there to worry about people's feelings or coddle people's feelings. That's a gift."

Look no further than the 2015 playoffs for examples.

After Kris Versteeg scored one goal in six games against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round, Quenneville scratched the veteran forward for the second round against the Minnesota Wild. Versteeg played once against the Anaheim Ducks in the conference final and then was back in the lineup in place of Bryan Bickell for the majority of the series against the Lightning.

Bickell, who was suffering from vertigo at the start of the Final, played Game 3 before again being replaced by Versteeg, who got the primary assist on center Antoine Vermette's Game 5-winning goal.

Vermette and rookie Teuvo Teravainen also were part of Quenneville's lineup tinkering this postseason. Each was a healthy scratch at different points during the first round and conference final, with each missing from Game 3 against the Ducks. The Blackhawks lost that game at home to fall behind 2-1 in the series, and Quenneville took a lot of heat for sitting them.

Neither Vermette nor Teravainen left the lineup again and each played a significant role in winning the last two rounds.

"Joel has done an incredible job, I think, of just gauging where we're at throughout some of these series, knowing what our team needs to do [and] what look we need to change as far as matchups or lineup combinations, things like that," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "I think he identifies things that will make us stronger going into the later games in the series."

Roenick said Quenneville's conviction while making those decisions sets him apart.

"He's got the perfect mentality for a coach, because he has the ability to press buttons when buttons need to be pressed, whether they're negative or whether they're positive," Roenick said. "You need to have a fire if you're a coach, and you can tell by watching Joel on the bench how much fire he has in his belly, the love and the passion he has for the game. When you have that ability, players can see it. Players feed off it, some players fear off it, and I think players respond to it."

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