Could Quenneville be a candidate for Canadiens coaching vacancy?


Could Quenneville be a candidate for Canadiens coaching vacancy?

When Marc Bergevin took the general-manager reins in Montreal last week, he faced quite a task. The Canadiens are looking to return to their former glory, and the moves the Blackhawks former assistant GM makes will be an attempt to get them there sooner rather than later.

His first task was finding his assistant, and it looks like Rick Dudley will be that guy. But his next move is the one everyone is waiting for: who will Bergevin select as his head coach? Bergevin knows plenty of good current and former coaches in this league, and hell probably do his due diligence to bring in several for consideration.

So who will it be? Heres a look, in no particular order, at some of the possibilities.

Patrick Roy: As a goaltender he handled pressure in his own quirky way, talking to his goal posts. But his playing career speaks for itself, as hes got four Cups to his credit. Roy would be a dazzling hire for the Canadiens, and youd think the guy who started his career in that sweater would be chomping at the bit to get the position. Question is: would Roy become a bigger story than his team? And Bergevin may want someone with more NHL coaching experience.

Jacques Lemaire: Jack Todd wrote in the Montreal Gazette today that the Canadiens should contact the venerable (and currently retired) coach ASAP. Lemaire has won Stanley Cups at every level, be it as a player (eight with the Canadiens), an assistant GM (two, again with the Canadiens) and as a head coach (one with the New Jersey Devils). If anyone understands what it takes to get a team back on track and how to handle being in that fishbowl of a hockey market, its Lemaire.

Marc Crawford: Another former coach who fits the mold of what the Canadiens need: an English- and French-speaking leader and a Cup winner who has found success in most of his previous stops. But Crawford, whos been a TV analyst this past season, has struggled in his recent stints. His two seasons with the Dallas Stars ended with no playoff berths, as did his previous time at the Los Angeles Kings helm.

Alain Vigneault: Well, this morning the Vancouver coach may have been a potential candidate. But general manager Mike Gilles signed a contract extension tonight, which means Vigneaults stay in Canuck-land likely continues. Which brings us to
Joel Quenneville: When Hockey Night in Canada had its Hotstove segment on Sunday night, Elliotte Friedman and Glenn Healy said the Blackhawks coach would be the perfect hire for the Canadiens. Quenneville and Bergevin have a great relationship, and one that goes back many years. There have been some bumps between Quenneville and the powers that be this season. Barry Smith was brought in to help work on the power play, then was gone during the playoffs. General manager Stan Bowman, when talking about that power play at the end of the season, said it was more of a coaching thing than anything. But Bowman also said that, overall this season, Joel did a great job. Its a testament to his track record as a coach to weather the storm in tough times. We see things very similarly. Team president John McDonough said in March that, even if the Blackhawks had a short playoff run, he didnt foresee changes. We have great confidence in Joel.

Quenneville also has two seasons remaining with his current contract. And while he understands French, he doesnt speak it.

Bergevin has a big decision to make in the near future. What it will be is still unknown. But he has one heck of a talent pool from which to choose.

Morning Update: Bulls win season opener; World Series returns to Wrigley

Morning Update: Bulls win season opener; World Series returns to Wrigley

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Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

College teammates Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder made plans to go to dinner after Thursday’s game in Chicago but for a few short moments they weren’t just competitors but unexpected combatants, getting tangled up in the second quarter.

There looked to be some harsh words exchanged after Butler took a charge on an unsuspecting Crowder near three-quarter court, with Crowder putting the basketball in Butler’s chest while Butler was still on the floor, causing players on both teams to convene for some tense moments.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas got involved and then before Butler could blink, Bulls guard Rajon Rondo joined the proceedings, as pushing and shoving ensued before technical fouls were assessed to both teams after an officials’ review.

If one wondered whether these Bulls—a team that touts itself as young with so many players having three years or less professional experience—could play with some bark and bite, perhaps the season opener provided a bit of a positive preview for the next 81 games.

Nearby, an unbothered Dwyane Wade took a practice 3-point shot, much to the delight of the United Center crowd, as observers witnessed the first sign of tangible proof the Bulls have intentions on regaining a bit of an edge on the floor.

Wade joked and took it as a sign of respect between the two teams.

“It looked like it, right? Yeah. It was a little something out there,” said Wade when asked if there was some chippy play. “Every time we play them it’s gonna be like that. Two teams finding their way in the Eastern Conference. We know we gotta see each other a lot. They never give up. They can be down 30 with 15 seconds left and they’re still gonna fight.”

The Bulls have externally preached toughness from the start of camp. Although Wade didn’t participate in that meeting of the minds, he isn’t exactly running away from such matters.
And Rajon Rondo is competitively ornery enough to have his voice hard no matter the setting.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It’s been a big theme of practice,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We want to play with physicality and toughness. I think it was evident on the glass tonight.”

Yes, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 19, but that could’ve been a by-product of the Bulls’ crashing the offensive glass on a porous shooting night. And yes, the slightly tense moment between Butler and Crowder probably won’t be an expected occurrence.

But when’s the last time one had multiple examples to dissect to discern this team’s level of toughness—or lack thereof.

“That’s something to show that the guys are out there fighting for each other,” Hoiberg said. “That they were playing with an edge. It happens with this game. You have to be competitive.”

Competition boiled over slightly, but considering the NBA isn’t exactly UFC, one doesn’t have to do much to display a little physical resolve.

“The fact that nothing escalated was good,” Hoiberg said. “The fact that those guys are out there and playing for each other and have each other’s back, that’s a huge thing right now.”

Too many times last season, it seemed the Bulls would submit in situations like those. Not that they were particularly soft, but it didn’t appear they had the collective will to fight for one another if an altercation arose.

Half the time, they looked like they could barely stand to be in the room with each other.

“It’s people’s will to win. Not saying a bad thing about anybody from last year,” Butler said. “To tell you the truth, I study the game and put in a lot of work but Rondo studies the game a lot. Every time I’m in the gym, he’s in the gym. That lets me know, these (dudes) are going to war with you. Every day. When I hit that deck, Rondo was right there. I wanna play with guys that’s gonna play hard, that’s gonna fight.”

And it didn’t take long for Butler to realize he has at least a couple teammates willing to jump in the foxhole with him.