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Quenneville talks about successful career on verge of 900th win

Panthers coach also discusses changes in game, time with Blackhawks with NHL.com

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Joel Quenneville is two wins away from 900 for his NHL coaching career.

Quenneville, the 61-year old coach in his first season with the Florida Panthers, will join all-time leader Scotty Bowman (1,244) as the only NHL coaches in the 900-win club when he gets there.

"We've been fortunate, we've had some great stops," Quenneville said. "The thing that's amazing, though, is I can't believe how fast the years have gone by, especially the last 10 or so years. I mean, the Chicago years flew by."

Quenneville started with the St. Louis Blues midway through the 1996-97 season. He stayed there through the 2003-04 season, winning 307 games. He was with the Colorado Avalanche from 2005-08 and won 131 more games.

His most successful and longest stop came next with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2008-18.

The Blackhawks won 452 regular-season games and celebrated three Stanley Cup championships (2010, 2013 and 2015) under Quenneville, who was fired Nov. 6, 2019, 15 games into last season.

Quenneville is now 17 games into his first season with the Panthers, who are 8-4-5.

"It's amazing how you look back and you see guys you played with, guys you coached, and now you're coaching their kids or against their kids," Quenneville said. "That's different, but it's rewarding as a coach when things get done in a positive way and you get the results by players improving and winning games by doing the right things. That's fun. … But the way the games and the seasons go by so fast, then you start looking at the age of your kids, you start thinking like, 'Oh my goodness.'"

Quenneville, who also joined the NHL @TheRink podcast this week, discussed his career, differences in the game today from when he started, his new challenge with the Panthers and more in a Q&A with NHL.com:

 

How have you changed in the past 20-plus years? What has changed about Joel Quenneville the coach since you jumped in with the St. Louis Blues in the 1996-97 season?

"You learn as a coach about your style, the game, your players, the way the game is being played or called. I think those things add up over time. I still think that I try to keep things simple. We like to have the environment where the players are enjoying themselves. We think that we bring structure and make the guys earn their opportunity. We like to be deserving of more ice time based on performance. So that really hasn't changed. We want to play a fast game. I don't know if everybody is as fast as you'd like them to be, but that's the way we want to play. That's how we played when we first began. I think the way we approach the players in the game, the team, is fairly consistent. The fun comes from winning and getting better. When that happens you really enjoy what you're doing."

 

You had the team in St. Louis in the 1999-2000 season that finished with 51 wins and 114 points, and then you lose in the first round to the San Jose Sharks. Was that the kick in the teeth lesson that all good coaches have to learn, how quickly it can go away?

"I don't know if you get a greater satisfaction by saying you lost in the third round or the second round. It's always disappointment and there are some lessons along the way, but that was a season that, hey, one of those years where the pucks were going in our net every which way. San Jose, Game 7, we had a chance. I look back at the year (2003) we lost to Vancouver when we had a 3-1 lead in the series, what happened in that series is everyone got sick in one game, Game 5, and then we weren't able to recapture ourselves. Then we had one against Colorado in the [2001] conference final after Peter Forsberg got hurt in Game 7 against Los Angeles and we couldn't get it done against them. Those ones jump out at me immediately from disappointments in those playoff years in St. Louis. We did have some good wins in those series as well, but those are the ones that you kind of remember. Then when you look back at some of the series you did win you look back and say, 'Wow, we were lucky to get through that one, a lot of things happened to go right for us.' You know at the end when you do win everything had to go right and that's what makes it so difficult and so rewarding when you do win a championship."

 

So many people now associate you with the Chicago Blackhawks because of the success and longevity you had there. Is there a special place in your heart for the St. Louis Blues and the St. Louis fans because it was the place as a head coach you got yourself going?

"Well there were some great years. We had a lot of fun, great memories. I was privileged to coach some great players. We had some great teams. Coming into the team, Brett Hull was there, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, Pierre Turgeon, Grant Fuhr. And Bergy (Marc Bergevin), got to work with him, that was always memorable. There were some guys on that team that were great and a lot of them are still in the game. Now we look back, we played all those years in Chicago against them as well and it was almost like you lost the heart that was in St. Louis, being a Blue. They were our No. 1 rival and that made it very competitive. It was a different setting last season when you're not in the game, just watching from afar, so it was nice to see them win. It was nice to see them come full circle and win the way they did. They look like they are the most improbable Stanley Cup winner ever."

 

What has the challenge been like with the Panthers instilling your philosophy and culture that you want there? How has that gone? Do you like the buy in?

"It's been good. Everybody has been fine. As a group, I think we look back on the last couple of years knowing that they made some inroads to being a competitive team, trying to find a way to be a consistent playoff team. The consistency is what we are trying to instill and reinforce. With the puck, without the puck, playing the right way, being a good pro, being consistent in your mindset throughout the game of playing the score the right way. It's all the things that add up to when the games are on the line, wanting to be on the ice and finding a way to do the right thing. That's what we're trying to improve upon and I think we're seeing progress, but that's an everyday thing, it's going to be an all-year thing. If we take pride in that little criteria, improving at the little things throughout the game, that will make us a better team. We know that we have to win games when the games are on the line and that's what we look forward to improving up on as well."

Sergei Bobrovsky's numbers don't look very good right now and I'm not sure how much that is on him or how the team has played in front of him, but do you think we underestimate the challenge it is for a goalie to go from one team and one system with the same group of defensemen in front of him to a new team, new system, new group of defensemen?

"I look at his numbers and whatever the numbers say, I think he's been very good for us. I think he's been a real nice addition to our team. I think he's had a nice fit to our team. I think he's well received and very competitive. There is a learning curve with the defensemen in front of him and he's learning from them as well. As a group we can be better, a little bit more predictable for him, and I think that will grow where all of a sudden there will be a lot more predictability. He's getting more comfortable handling the puck and guys are getting more familiar when there is an exchange with him. We've got to get cleaner around the net for his liking and our liking. But I think our 'D' has improved this year. Offensively, we've been more involved with the puck, more of a possession game. Defensively, as a group of five, we've been better in our own end but that's going to be an everyday challenge for everyone. I think the 'D' will get a lot more comfortable with Bob and vice versa. It is a new situation and the expectations are there, but I commend him on how he's handled everything so far."

 

Does Aaron Ekblad remind you of anybody you've coached previously?

"He's got a lot of great traits to his game. I'm impressed with his pace to his game. When you look at him, he can go. He's got some pace. He might have deceiving speed when he's moving with the puck and moving into the play. You love his size. He can shoot the puck. He can defend. He can make plays. I think he's the whole package and he brings a lot of different ingredients to the team game. He's playing big minutes, matchup minutes, so he gets challenged every single game and I like the consistency he's bringing. He wants a winning situation and we look forward to him getting better as we go along here, but I can't come up with a name to compare him to, though. We'll get a better idea in time who we might say who he reminds me of."

Video: FLA@ANA: Huberdeau sets up Ekblad on the doorstep

 

How about Aleksander Barkov, does he remind you of Jonathan Toews at all?

"No, I think he's a different player. I think of Taser as more of a checker, grinder type of guy. Barky has the puck a little bit more, maybe a little more offensive minded than Jonny. But either way they play comparable minutes, all key situations and they can both do a lot of things. They can both play on both sides of the puck. That kind of goes against what I said at the beginning, but they go about it differently. At the same time you love their leadership qualities. Both lead in their own ways and I think the best way they lead is by their actions."

 

Have to ask you, as a veteran coach what do you think when you see some of these players today trying things like Andrei Svechnikov's lacrosse-style goal, Matthew Tkachuk's between the legs goal?

"Oh, hey, I think everybody wants to be in the highlights now. The guys now, I think they're getting a little of this jazz now. As a coach you're sitting there like, 'Shove that play up your you know what,' but now these guys are doing these plays and it's like, 'Oh my goodness, we can't be doing that stuff, right?' At the end of practice you can do anything you want, but now that they're doing it live and it works sometimes, now everybody thinks they've got to be in on it. I think the last couple of weeks have created a monster. I'm going to mind my business on this one a little bit. Haha."

Video: CGY@CAR: Svechnikov scores lacrosse-style goal

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