The questions about Joel Quenneville’s tenure as Avalanche coach first began early in the 2006-07 campaign, but were quickly quieted by Colorado’s admirable late-season run that ultimately ended with the team achingly short of a playoff berth.
This season, more was expected of the organization, from GM Francois Giguere on down, so even the Avs’ first-round dismantling of the Minnesota Wild – and second round throttling by Detroit – wasn’t seen in nearly such a progressive light.
And on Friday, Quenneville paid the price for it when the team announced it would not be offering him a contract to replace the one that expires at the end of June.
Quenneville, who won the NHL's Jack Adams Trophy as top coach for 1999-00, will undoubtedly be in the running for bench boss openings in Ottawa, Toronto, Florida and Atlanta. He’ll almost certainly find work by the beginning of next season, as he wasn’t seen to be the primary problem with an injury-riddled roster still a couple years away from true Cup contention.
Unfortunately, like a lot of coaches who had three years with an above-average squad and still managed only two playoff series wins in that time, the clock was ticking on him.
It also didn’t help that he wasn’t hired by Giguere, who was working for the Dallas Stars at the time.
But any man who wins 136 regular-season games in three years, as Quenneville did in Colorado, is bound to get a few phone calls regarding his immediate plans.
He was the second head coach to be shown the door this week, but I have a sneaking suspicion he might be the first to be rehired.