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Volume 25 No. 172
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Blackhawks' Bowman Puts Stamp On Team After Firing Quenneville

Quenneville's Blackhawks last year missed the playoffs for the first time since '07-08
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Blackhawks GM & Senior VP Stan Bowman has "put his own reputation on the line emphatically" by firing coach Joel Quenneville early in his 11th season, according to Steve Greenberg of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Quenneville won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, and given the "longstanding friction that many believe existed" between he and Bowman, the move "smacked of inevitability." However, Bowman "disputed the common characterization of his relationship with the coach as a power struggle." He said, "There’s no truth to that whatsoever. ... I would say we have a very good relationship" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/7). In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom writes the firing underscored what "many believed was an uneasy alliance." If so, "then Bowman won." This move "says so" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/7). ESPN.com's Greg Wyshynski wrote Bowman and Quenneville had a "relationship that could find tenuous peace in the good times. But a "run of failure for the franchise" in recent years had "broken that peace" (ESPN.com, 11/6). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Jared Clinton wrote many pundits believed that Quenneville’s firing was "less a matter of 'if' than a matter of 'when.'" But that "doesn’t make the 'when' any less shocking" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 11/6). ESPN's Clinton Yates said "everyone knows" that Bowman "put together a bum roster and is trying to throw (Quenneville) out with the rest of it” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 11/6).

EXECUTIVE APPROVAL: In Chicago, Jimmy Greenfield notes Blackhawks Chair Rocky Wirtz and President & CEO John McDonough "signed off" on Bowman's decision. McDonough said, “Sometimes, as painful as it is, you need a fresh start.” While Quenneville "took the fall for not getting enough out of this team, Bowman assembled the roster." However, McDonough said that during this process, he "did not consider firing Bowman." He called Bowman’s body of work "excellent" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/7). THE ATHLETIC's Mark Lazerus wrote McDonough "respects Quenneville." But sources said that McDonough has "always been in Bowman’s camp" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/6). ESPN's Barry Melrose said Blackhawks' management "felt that they were better" and "had a better chance of winning the Cup and getting to the playoffs with a different coach" than Quenneville. Melrose: "Seven years, the itch in marriage, they don't last long after that, maybe that's what happened here" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 11/6).

WHAT A WAY TO GO: In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes under the header, "A Winner And Class Act, Joel Quenneville Deserved Better Than What He Got." Quenneville "deserved better than to be canned 15 games into this season or any other." He "steered a franchise to the most success it had ever had, and he did it with grace and class" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/7). Also in Chicago, Rick Telander writes it "won’t take long for nostalgia" over the three Quenneville-led titles to "infest fans’ minds and remind them of what they once had" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/7). The Chicago DAILY HERALD's Barry Rozner writes Quenneville is the "best coach the team has ever had and one of the best in NHL history." Rozner: "No coach is perfect and Quenneville was not. ... But at his best, wow was he good" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 11/7). The DAILY HERALD's John Dietz writes Quenneville "will go down with Phil Jackson, Mike Ditka and George Halas on the Mount Rushmore of Chicago coaches" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 11/7). The Athletic’s Frank Isola said, “He won three Stanley Cups, don't you think he deserves better than this?" L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke: "Quenneville was one of five active coaches who won three championships in a major sport and now he’s gone? That’s ridiculous" (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 11/6). ESPN's Melrose: "Quenneville will be hired very, very quickly if he wants to be hired" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 11/6).

MOVING FORWARD: In Chicago, Joe Knowles writes Quenneville's firing "effectively ends the greatest era" in modern Blackhawks history. What is next is "likely a painful descent, first to mediocrity and then, hopefully, to depths lower still," because going "all the way down is the only way up." The Blackhawks were "able to draft transformational players" such as C Jonathan Toews and RW Patrick Kane because the club first "bottomed out." The Blackhawks "need to get bad -- really bad -- and the sooner the better." The "best-case scenario" for the team would be a "brief plummet and then a dramatic return to the NHL’s elite" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/7).