Joel Quenneville hoisted his third Stanley Cup on Monday night, his second as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. His moves from game to game, or in some cases shift to shift, are a big reason why the Blackhawks found the success they did this season. And the organization is going to make sure they keep their coach for a while longer.
The Blackhawks will probably start working on another extension for Quenneville, who signed his last one just after winning the 2010 Cup. His current contract runs out after the 2013-14 season, and general manager Stan Bowman made it clear that Quenneville is the Blackhawks’ guy.
“He’s done a tremendous job leading the team and there’s no one else I’d rather have coaching this group,” Bowman said on Thursday. “He’s demonstrated a great ability to understand what it takes to win. He’s got a proven track record and players respond to him. We’re excited about that, and hope to continue it.”
That’s fine with Quenneville, who loves living in the Chicago area – even if fans toilet paper his yard to celebrate a Cup.
“We love it here,” he said. “This is a special place to be from all perspectives. Being in this environment, coaching the players we have, I was fortunate to walk into the door five years ago with a team that was sitting on, ‘Go.’ I’ve had a lot of fun over those five years. There aren’t too many opportunities to work with a group like this. It’s very special, and I’m very fortunate to be here.”
Jamal Mayers was overcome when captain Jonathan Toews told him at Game 6’s morning skate that, if the Blackhawks won, he’d be one of the first to hoist the Cup.
“I got pretty choked up just thinking about it; I had to skate away,” said Mayers, who will be contemplating his hockey future this offseason. And now that he’s lifted that Cup, Mayers is wondering if he still has some hockey left in him.
Mayers didn’t get much playing time this season and got none in the postseason. But he said he’s uncertain if he’s done or not.
“I feel like I can still skate, and in today’s game you have to be able to skate to keep up with those young kids,” the 38-year-old Mayers said. “I feel like I can still skate, can still play. But there’s a lot of consideration with family and it’s not just about me. We’ll have to make that decision in the net little while.”
If this is it, though, Mayers will have options. He’s a well-spoken player who was a big part of the new collective bargaining agreement talks during the lockout. He’s thought a career in the media. Mayers says he still has something left in the tank. If he does walk away, however, that Cup lift will make it an easier decision.
“I realize where I’m at in my career and I reached the ultimate: climbing the mountain and seeing over the top,” he said. “That’ll play itself out in the next couple of weeks. But if I do walk away, I can do it as a champion.”
LEDDY DEAL COMING?
The Blackhawks have an offseason signing or two they’ll try to make, and one is defenseman Nick Leddy. The 21-year-old had a strong regular season but struggled in the playoffs. But Bowman is looking at the whole body of work, and wants to get a contract ironed out with the defenseman.
He’s also not worried about an offer sheet, something that the San Jose Sharks offered to Niklas Hjalmarsson following the 2010 Cup run.
“We want to bring Nick back,” Bowman said. “I’ve talked to his agent (Neil Sheehy) and I expect to get a contract done with him. That’s one of the things on the list we have to get accomplished here. We’re not letting Nick go. We’re going to keep him here. I’m not concerned about offer sheets.”
Leddy is a restricted free agent; his current deal, which just finished, was for three years with a cap hit of just over $1.1 per season. Leddy’s hopeful of a deal to keep him here.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “The city’s unbelievable, the fan base is, bar none, the best. Hopefully I’ll stay here. I’m just going to see what happens.”
Viktor Stalberg went through his ups and downs this postseason with the Blackhawks, the downs being the four playoff games (two against Detroit, two against Boston) he was benched. Stalberg’s situation with the Blackhawks looks pretty clear: it seems unlikely they re-sign him. But whatever his course may be, Stalberg’s not sweating it.
“It’s part of the business. But it’s one of those things that I’m in the driver’s seat,” said Stalberg, who is a restricted free agent. “I have options; I can pick and choose where I want to go. If they want to keep me, they want to keep me. I’m not saying I want to stay; I haven’t made that decision. We’ll figure out in the next day or two what their plans are and what mine are and go from there.”
Stalberg played fewer minutes through a lot of postseason games, and he said he struggled to find his game in that lesser time on ice. Whatever the future holds, he’s hoping he can get back to playing his game, and playing more minutes.
“It happened for whatever reason; things took a little turn there. That’s how it goes sometimes,” he said. “at the end of the day, we won and I’m happy with how I contributed with the minutes I played. It’s not easy doing that and I’m not looking to keep playing a role like that. That’s what it is, and we’ll see what happens.”