Count former Blackhawks Stanley Cup Champion forward and NBC Sports Chicago Blackhawks analyst Jamal Mayers among those who did not see the Hawks firing of head coach Joel Quenneville coming.
“Well obviously it’s gotta be shock, you think about what Joel’s done in his time here,” Mayers told NBC Sports Chicago when asked about his initial reaction to the news.
Mayers, who played seven seasons under Quenneville in St. Louis, before his two seasons with him in Chicago, went on to list the coach’s Hall of Fame credentials that weren’t enough to save his job - 3 Stanley Cup championships in 10-plus seasons as Blackhawks head coach, second winningest coach in the history of the NHL - while also relaying his own personal gratitude.
“Certainly (I) feel indebted to Joel, for bringing me back to play for him in Chicago and a chance to win a Stanley Cup and actually make it happen in 2013."
As for the timing of the move, which comes on the heels of an 0-4-1 stretch, Mayers pointed to the 4 day break between games and – while qualifying that he would only be speculating – the sense of urgency for a playoff push, just over 5 weeks into the season.
“I think (the Blackhawks front office) sees that there’s so many teams clustered together, that the team needed to make a move here in the next six weeks, (and that they think that stretch) is that critical to making the playoffs, and I guess they thought a change needed to be made."
As a former player, Mayers was also quick to point out that the Blackhawks players will bear the burden of this decision.
“I know that the leadership group will be disappointed in themselves, that they let him down," Mayers said. "The reality is that you can’t fire 23 players. It’s the easiest way to shake up a team. I think they’ll take ownership of it. I think they’ll take responsibility. And I think they’ll be upset enough to help change the course of the way things have been going the last five or six games.”