It wasn’t so much if coach Joel Quenneville’s extension was going to get done. It was when.
Quenneville, coming off his third Stanley Cup in his past six seasons here, still has two years on his current contract. On Tuesday, that expected extension came through.
The Blackhawks signed Quenneville to a three-year extension that will take him through the 2019-20 season. The team did not release financial terms of the deal; Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported the extension could be worth $18 million over those three years.
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“Yeah, we’re happy,” said Quenneville, who is also one victory away from tying Al Arbour for the second-most coaching victories in NHL history (782). “We’re in a great spot here. It’s been a fun time and we have a fun situation going on here. We’ve having a good stretch here and look forward to try to continue on.”
General manager Stan Bowman talked in the offseason that a Quenneville extension as going to happen at some point.
“I think with any negotiation it takes a little bit of time, but I wouldn't say it was a really drawn-out thing,” he said. “We've got a great situation going here. We're fortunate to have Joel on board and he's been a huge part of what we've accomplished as a group, and there's no one more you'd want on the bench than Joel. So, we're looking for some continuity and we’ve had it here.
“I think it’s a testament to the job Joel's done in today's game,” Bowman continued. “It's tough for coaches to last, and I think certainly because of the accomplishments for the team, led by Joel, is a big part of it. We're excited for what's to come.”
The 57-year-old Quenneville took over the job on Oct. 16, 2008. The Blackhawks had a dynamic young team and the possibility to do something great. Still, there may not have been many who would have projected the Blackhawks to do what they’ve done these past few seasons. The core hasn’t changed much but the Blackhawks have otherwise gone through plenty of salary cap-related alterations. Yet they, and Quenneville, just keep winning.
“In your wildest dreams you wouldn’t have expected what happened to happen,” Quenneville said of when he first took over. “We improved as we were going through that year, got some good educations right off the bat and immediately won. It was a great beginning but [we have] a tremendous group to work with, knowing your leaders have that type of character you hope to have on your team. They send the right message and you couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in as a coach.”
Blackhawks players were happy to hear the news.
“First of all, he definitely deserves it with what he’s done with this franchise. He’s gotten the results and players like to play with him,” said Marian Hossa. “[He gives us] lots of days off; he’s really reasonable. But on the other hand he expects things. We’re happy for him and his new deal. I think it’s great for the city.”
Trevor van Riemsdyk, who entered last training camp relatively unknown and earned a job on the starting lineup, agreed.
“I’ve only been here a short period of time but you see instantaneously why he’s such a great coach and why he’s been so successful,” he said. “I’ll be forever grateful for that chance to play right away. He had nothing but positive things to say and it meant a lot, especially coming from someone like coach Q who’s been through so much, coached so many players and has been so successful. I’m really happy for him.”
Quenneville has had some great coaching seasons, especially here in Chicago. Will he ever catch Scotty Bowman’s record of 1,244 all-time coaching victories? As Quenneville said with a grin, “it’s a stretch.” Quenneville isn’t much for looking too far down the path anyway. Right now, life and coaching is good. So is the added few years of security.
“I felt fortunate when I started that I’ve been around really good players, teams and situations, and none better than here in Chicago,” he said. “I’ve been some healthy situations where we’ve had success. It makes the job that much more enjoyable. There are always some tough situations over the course of the years but for the most part, it’s gone by extremely quick an that’s why it’s been so much fun.”