With the firing of Joel Quenneville, I can’t help, but think how wrong it was for the Chicago Blackhawks to relieve him of his duties. Yes, the current version of the Blackhawks are not the same team that won three Stanley Cups and made the playoffs from the 2008-09 season till 2016-17. Quenneville is clearly the most successful coach that Chicago ever had and he deserves a better send off than a firing.
I had been a big fan of General Manager Stan Bowman especially how he was able to navigate a competitive roster around the salary cap. However, the problem was that towards the end of the Blackhawks playoff run was that Bowman kept some of the older players on the roster who clearly were in a decline and sold off others who were young and talented (i.e. Brandon Saad, Artemi Panarin, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Nick Leddy, Joakim Nordstrom). Keeping others like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Corey Crawford made sense as they were top players in the league despite the salary cap hit, but keeping others like Brent Seabrook or reacquiring players who helped bring championships to the city like Patrick Sharp or Johnny Oduya seriously backfried. Heck, Bowman even traded away some depth players like Ryan Hartman. While Bowman had tried valiantly, his magic had waned. His philosophy for getting players had run it’s course and it clearly was not working any more. Last year the team struggled all season long as their defense was lackluster and losing Crawford in the net because of injuries proved to be disastrous as the Blackhawks could not find anyone to fill that void. That falls on the general manager not finding any depth in order to compete. Chicago had gotten older and Bowman wasn’t able to address that issue.
That being said, I was totally fine with the organization on deciding to move on from Quenneville. But it should have been a season long decision in deciding who would be the next head coach of the team with Quenneville being a part of the process and then him stepping aside at the end of the campaign. However, I wouldn’t have been opposed to him staying too as it is very clear he is a great head coach and could lead any team to success. If that was the case, then Bowman had to change the organization’s entire philosophy to acquiring players.
The firing of Quenneville almost seemed like a cop out for Bowman as he wasn’t willing to take any of the blame. A coach in any sport can only do so much if the roster lacks talent. Last season, we didn’t realize it until later that there was a lack of talent on the roster and it continued into this current campaign. How can you put the blame on a coach who has nothing to work with? That’s something that falls on the general manager in order to make the squad competitive.
The Blackhawks did Quenneville wrong. Stan Bowman should be held more accountable for what happened to the team. The firing led to a new coach, Jeremy Colliton, that has either proven that he is in over his head or he’s just simply not very good. Yes, he’s 34, but it has proven that Colliton is not the right guy for the job. He might not be ready to be a NHL head coach either. Hopefully the organization can find a better fit for the head coaching position, but giving such a successful head coach, who even brought the first championship to the franchise for the first time in 49 years and then developed a dynasty, the axe, and handing the reigns over to an unproven young coach is just absolutely wrong and insulting.