The Chicago Blackhawks recently shook the league by firing their coach Joel Quenneville. Of course, every coach gets fired eventually, but it came as a shock that the Blackhawks let Coach Q go after 797 games as head coach. He had been their coach since the 2008-2009 season and Chicago has not finished below .500 in the regular season with him. In fact, over 11 years, the overall points percentage of Coach Q’s Chicago Blackhawks is .627. Over his entire NHL coaching career, he has coached in 1636 games for a points percentage of .609. Which, if you ask me, is pretty good.
I expect Coach Q won’t be available on the coach market for long, but the question is who will take him?
Quenneville during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Red Wings could be a possible contender or should at least consider the option.
The Wings coaching situation is not good to say the least. I think I mirror the feelings of many fans when I say I’m not a fan of Jeff Blashill. I was excited when he was first promoted to coach in Detroit after Mike Babcock left for Toronto. In his three years as Grand Rapids Griffins head coach, they had won the Calder Cup in 2013, made it to the conference semifinals but lost in 2014, and made it to the conference finals but lost in 2015. Previously, with the USHL’s Indiana Ice, the team had won the Clark Cup in 2009 and made it to the semifinals but lost in 2010. In his one season as head coach at Western Michigan in 2010-11, they made it to the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals. Upon entering the empty position left by Babcock, this is a pretty solid résumé.
Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill.
Internationally, Blashill has been on the coaching staff for Team USA at the 2006 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, the 2009 World Junior A Challenge, the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, and the 2017 IIHF World Championship. Teams he has coached internationally have won silver (2006 Ivan Hlinka), gold (2009 World Junior A), and fifth place (2009 IIHF World Junior, 2017 IIHF World). Again, this isn’t bad.
As for his time with the Red Wings, Blashill has coached 265 games for a total of 112 wins, giving him a .496 points percentage overall. So far this season, the Wings have a points percentage of .474, so not too far off from Blashill’s career stat. However, how sustainable is this? How many more games will fans be content to watch younger players in need of development time at the NHL lever receive the shaft for minor mistakes in favor of older players making the same mistakes? Regardless of whether or not the Wings hover at or around Blashill’s .496, what does it matter if the result is the same again and again and again? The Wings aren’t even at league average; the league average is .558. Coach Q has won the Stanley Cup and he’s proven to be a good coach over time. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m tired of Blashill. Maybe I expected too much of him, but it’s getting tiring to watch. Of course, Blashill alone is not the cause of the Red Wings’ problems, but one can’t help but wonder what would happen, what would be better if the Wings had a different coach.
And I’ll be the first to admit I don’t watch the Blackhawks closely. The Hawks are never a team that caught my attention particularly well. I don’t know about Coach Q’s handling of particular players, whether or not he is more likely to play the young guns than Blashill does, but sometimes you have to take the chance. At least in terms of numbers, not that numbers mean everything, Coach Q looks like the better coach. Blashill should be dropped; Coach Q should be picked up. If the Wings want Coach Q, they should act soon. I don’t expect he’ll be available too long.
And it’s worth remembering Alain Vigneault is still out there somewhere, potentially looking for a way back into the NHL, as he hasn’t been hired since he parted ways with the Rangers. If the Wings don’t move soon enough, he instead of Joel Quenneville, that is assuming the Red Wings’ coach does get fired at some point, could be the next coach.
Quenneville image source: X
Blashill image source: X