Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is one win away from tying Al Arbour as the second-winningest coach in NHL history and could record his 782nd win Tuesday against the Nashville Predators. If that wasn’t enough to excite Quenneville Tuesday, he also inked a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Chicago until the 2019-20 season.
“We’ve got a great situation going here,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said of the extension. “We’re fortunate to have Joel on board and he’s been a huge part of what we’ve accomplished as a group. There’s no one you’d want behind the bench more than Joel.”
No financial terms of the deal have been released, but Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported Quenneville will get a raise in salary for the final year of his current deal, and the three-year extension is “in ballpark of $18 million” over the span of the contract.
Quenneville, 57, joined the Blackhawks in September 2008 as a pro scout after three seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. Shortly after joining the Blackhawks, though, Quenneville became Chicago’s coach. To begin the 2008-09 season, the Blackhawks got off to a slow start under then-coach Denis Savard. His 1-2-1 record through four games was enough for management to relieve Savard of his duties, and Quenneville was promptly promoted from his scouting position to coach.
“In your wildest dreams, you wouldn’t have expected what has happened to happen,” Quenneville said. “Even an optimistic point of view was that it was an exciting young team that had a bright future. Things developed in a great way right off the bat. We had a ton of young kids who were competitive, loved being around each other and improved as we were going through those years.”
In his first season with the Blackhawks, Quenneville coached Chicago to its first post-season berth in five years and second in the past 10 seasons. Quenneville got the upstart Blackhawks past the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks before falling to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference final. The deep playoff run was a sign of things to come for Quenneville’s Blackhawks, though.
From 2009-10 until present, Quenneville guidance has helped turned the Blackhawks into one of the most successful teams in the league. He led Chicago to Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015, a Presidents’ Trophy in 2012-13 and the team has managed two William Jennings Trophies as the team with the lowest goals against with Quenneville at the helm.
“The sign of a great coach is to be able to get your most talented players to play their best,” Bowman said. “That’s not easy to do. Certainly that’s a sign of a coach that is successful. They’re able to get their top players to play well and do it often. Joel has a great feel for that.”
A feel so great, in fact, that Quenneville is eyeying up the Arbour’s mark of 782 wins. And once he gets to 783, the only coach ahead of him on the all-time list will be Scotty Bowman, Stan’s father and currently an advisor with the Blackhawks. So could Quenneville eventually catch Bowman’s mark of 1,244 wins? He laughed, and said it was a “stretch.”
“I felt fortunate when I first started in this game that I’ve been around really good players, really good teams and really good situations,” Quenneville said. “None better than here in Chicago.”