It may not be surprising that when Joel Quenneville recently sat down with NBC Sports Chicago, his fondest memories with the Blackhawks centered around when he helped end a 49-year Stanley Cup drought in 2010.
"Obviously the championships were significant achievements," said the three-time Stanley Cup-winning former coach of the Blackhawks, now with the Florida Panthers. "And then when you look back how each one was accomplished and how hard they were and all the things, the ups and downs of winning each one were things that stand out the most.
"And the thrills that we had at the games and the city, the celebrations were cool, I thought the parades were extremely cool. But going through it with the guys was probably the part that'd be most memorable."
Coach Q is returning to the United Center on Tuesday, when the Hawks take on the Panthers, for the first time since his firing on Nov. 6 of 2018. During the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, Quenneville is still wondering what a lot of Hawks fans are.
"2010, man," Quenneville said. "It's almost like, where's the puck now? Do we know where the puck is? I can't believe it's already been 10 years."
The 61-year-old knew he had a special group on the cusp of doing serious damage when the Hawks lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the 2009 Western Conference Final.
"The year before we got a good education when we played Detroit and getting to the Conference Finals was pretty impressive with that group, young group, a lot of talent, a lot of ability, competitive bunch," Quenneville said. "And so we learned, had some valuable lessons in that series and throughout those first couple rounds, so that helped us.
"A young team learning how to win and that exposure the following year. You get that close and you're thinking you got a chance, a real chance, the following year. A lot of things got to go right though. You need goaltending, you need health, you need your best players to be great and you need four lines and you need your D to be solid, so we had a lot of those things happen and fortunate in a lot of ways.
"Sometimes the matchups work out in your favor, but some amazing series and some things that turned it around, you think about that Nashville game, you think about Game 6 against Philly and then you can go on and on — some series are not as vivid as others — but it was pretty amazing each one, they stand out."
When looking back at big goals, Quenneville had a fondness of Patrick Kane's shorthanded game-tying goal (3-3) with 13.6 seconds remaining in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal against the Nashville Predators in 2010 at the United Center. Marian Hossa scored the game-winner in OT out of the penalty box to put Chicago up 3-2 in the series.
"That was unbelievable," Quenneville said. "I mean, when I think back about it, you take a five-minute major, down a goal, late in the game and you got Hoss in the box.
"Now we're getting down late, we've got to use Kaner on the kill — I don't even know if we used him once that whole year killing penalties, I don't even think we did. But he knows what he's out there to do and then we get a break and we scored and we still had to kill it, and then we got into overtime.
"That was a huge goal and the crowd, that might've been the loudest we heard the building in certain times. We've had some moments that stood out, the Vancouver game when Kaner might've gotten a hat trick that night, that might've been louder, Seabs scoring against Detroit, that was loud, that was noticeable, memorable. Duncs scoring against Tampa. Certain goals stand out but that was definitely a huge, huge goal. Don't expect to score shorthanded like that very often."
Of course, Quenneville had nothing but great things to say, as he always did, when asked about Marian Hossa and his impact on the Blackhawks.
"One of those players that really, really set the table of playing the right way," Quenneville said. "And as a coach, you couldn't ask for a guy that demonstrates exactly what your message is of how we want to play structurally, in all zones, in all situations. Protects the puck, keeps the puck, tough to take it away from him.
"It was almost like, 'OK, this the perfect player' and does everything you want. Playing without the puck is something we always try to instill and checking is a part of our game and he was perfect in that area, so he was ideal for our team and quietly went about his business.
"Good teammate, one of those guys that guys would rely upon and every game he was key to what we were trying to do in our team game and it was noticeable. We used him in all situations, all times of the game. Very important player."
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