Joel Quenneville said it was never a question, even though there was plenty of speculation. Hes happy being the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, and he plans to be here for a while.
Quenneville shot down rumors of going to the Montreal Canadiens during a conference call on Tuesday, stating that leaving Chicago was the last thing I was thinking about.
Over the last few days theres been speculation about other things going on and me being somewhere else. First and foremost, Im excited about being here, said Quenneville, who let assistant coach Mike Haviland go earlier in the day. I love the opportunity and the organization (here in Chicago), and thats something I want to put to bed right now.
Speculation arose after a Hockey Night in Canada Hotstove piece came out on Sunday night. In the segment, analysts said Quenneville would be a good fit for the Canadiens and new general manager Marc Bergevin, the Blackhawks former assistant GM and good friend of Quennevilles. They talked of a rift between upper management and Quenneville and that the coach would be perfect for the Canadiens.
But Quenneville said hes ensconced in Chicago.
Im very happy here and thats the last thing I was thinking about, Quenneville said. Im happy for Bergi that he got the job. Hell do a great job there and hell give the organization some life. I wish him the best. Other than that, thats where Im at.
There had been some issues between the two camps for the Blackhawks this season. There was speculation of a power struggle when Barry Smith, the Blackhawks director of player development and longtime former assistant coach to Scotty Bowman, began helping the power play during team practices. Smith was no longer on the ice come playoff time. At the end-of-season media day, general manager Stan Bowman said the power play was more of a coaching thing than anything. There are a lot of different ways to run a power play and for some reason ours didnt work.
But in that same session Bowman said he and Quenneville had a good relationship: "Joel did a great job. Its a testament to his track record as a coach to weather the storm in tough times. Our team came out of that (nine-game winless) stretch, and we played great hockey toward the end of the year. We see things very similarly.
If it was a question of power, it sounds like Quenneville now has it when it comes to his coaching staff. Quenneville said the decision to fire Haviland Tuesday was his.
"(Stan) did offer me the opportunity for the first time since I've been here -- if I needed to make changes to our coaching staff -- to look at it and have the opportunity to make a coaching change or all the necessary changes that were there. I think the timing was where I felt like a change was necessary and going forward.
And as Quenneville goes forward with the Blackhawks, he also looked at his own coaching. He said hes learning a lot just watching the rest of the playoffs.
"I took a look back at the situation and I had my own reflection on the job I did. I watch other playoff games, I know there is areas where I can be a better coach, said Quenneville, who added that he could do a better job of delegating ice time to players. At the same time, I had an assessment that there is some dysfunction to our coaching staff and we need a change.
Theres been a change on the Blackhawks coaching staff. But it looks like Quenneville will be leading it for some time.