Joel Quenneville thanks Blackhawks fans: 'The support in Chicago was outstanding'

Joel Quenneville thanks Blackhawks fans: 'The support in Chicago was outstanding'

Joel Quenneville enjoyed plenty of success during his stint as Blackhawks head coach (2008-18). The 61-year-old ranks second all-time in franchise history with 797 wins; he led the Blackhawks to nine straight playoff appearances (2009-17), three of which ended with Stanley Cup championships (2010, ‘13, ‘15).

All good things must end, and the Blackhawks fired Quenneville on Nov. 6, 2018 following a 6-6-3 start to the season. After taking the rest of the season off, Quenneville joined the Florida Panthers as head coach last April.

The Panthers currently have 59 points and sit in an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Tuesday, they’ll take on the Blackhawks at the United Center — the first time Quenneville has coached at the UC since his firing.

Although he’s returning as a visitor, Quenneville is looking forward to Tuesday’s matchup. In an interview with NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis, the head coach expressed his love for the city and looked back fondly on his time with the Blackhawks.

"Going into it right now thinking about it, it's going to be a fun night. The memories are so great,” Quenneville said. “The moments, the people, the staff, the organization, we got treated like, you couldn't ask for a better 10 years of our lives, our coaching experience or our families or the opportunity to work with some of the best players that ever played the game.

“There's a lot of good things, so looking forward to it and hey, the fans have been tremendous. We love Chicago, we loved everything about it and I'm looking forward to it."

The Blackhawks fired Quenneville following a 5-3 loss to the Flames in Calgary on Nov. 3, 2018. He expressed some regret for never getting to truly thank Chicago and Blackhawks fans for their support during his stint as head coach.

"Yeah, I never got to thank them much either though,” he said. “But certainly, there's a great appreciation for what they meant and how important they were for our team as well. The support in Chicago was outstanding and I just think, special place to play.

“We had one of those memorable runs, privileged to be there. The franchise was the team of the decade and it was very deserving, and being a part of it, cause everybody's contribution was important and that was part of it as well."

The Blackhawks roster has gone through some changes in the last year or so, but franchise mainstays Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford will all be opposite Quenneville Tuesday on the home team’s bench.

For Quenneville, what made his successful stint in Chicago so memorable was going to battle with his players night-in-and-night-out.

"Obviously the championships were significant achievements. 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,” he said. “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."

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Does Dominik Kubalik have a legitimate shot at the Calder Trophy?


Does Dominik Kubalik have a legitimate shot at the Calder Trophy?

A definite bright spot this season has been the emergence of Dominik Kubalik. With 25 goals this season, he’s only the eighth rookie in Blackhawks history to reach that plateau… and there’s still 22 games left! It’s reasonable to think he may reach 30 goals, and he’d be only the fifth rookie in franchise history to do that. So does he have a shot to be the tenth Calder Trophy winner in franchise history? Let’s dig in.

The best argument in Kubalik’s favor is the fact that he has a SIX goal cushion in the rookie goal race.

NHL rookie goal leaders  
Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks  25
Victor Olofsson- Sabres          19
Denis Gurianov- Stars 17
Martin Necas- Hurricanes 15
Nick Suzuki- Canadiens    13

It’s even more glaring when you look at even-strength goals, and he’s even joined by a few teammates:

NHL rookie Even Strength Goal leaders

Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks   23
Martin Necas- Hurricanes 10
Denis Gurianov- Stars 10
Kirby Dach- Blackhawks 8
Alex Nylander- Blackhawks 8
Cale Makar- Avalanche 8
Victor Olofsson- Sabres 8

Kubalik is tied with Leon Draisaitl & Nathan McKinnon for 8th in the entire league with those 23 even-strength tallies!

Kubalik has come on strong since the calendar flipped over to 2020.

NHL rookie goal leaders beginning of the season through December 31     

Victor Olofsson- Sabres 16
Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks 11
Denis Gurianov- Stars  9
Martin Necas- Hurricanes 9


NHL rookie goal leaders beginning of the season January 1 to present

Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks 14
Denis Gurianov- Stars 8
Carter Verhaeghe- Lightning 7
Nick Suzuki- Canadiens 6
Martin Necas- Hurricanes 6

Did you ever notice that Necas is an anagram for Canes?

Of course, on the flip side, Kubalik is only 5th among rookie point collectors.

Quinn Hughes- Canucks 47
Cale Makar- Avalanche 45
Victor Olofsson- Sabres 40
Nick Suzuki- Canadiens 40
Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks 38

Hughes is tied for 4th overall and Makar is 6th overall among ALL defensemen in points, let alone rookies. Impressively, Makar’s first career 10 NHL games in the 2019 playoffs, where he recorded a goal and 5 assists.

One point in Victor Olofsson’s favor is that he has done what he has done in 45 games compared to 58 for Kubalik.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, is what the recent trends have shown in Calder Trophy voting. In most cases where one player leads NHL rookies in goals while a different player leads NHL rookies in points, the vote usually goes in favor of the points leader.

  Rookie points leader Rookie goals leader Calder Trophy winner
2018-19 Elias Pettersson Elias Pettersson Pettersson
2017-18 Matthew Barzal Kyle Connor  Barzal
2016-17 Auston Matthews Auston Matthews Matthews
2015-16 Artemi Panarin  Artemi Panarin  Panarin 
2014-15 J. Gaudreau/ M. Stone Mike Hoffman Aaron Ekblad
2013-14 Nathan MacKinnon MacKinnon/T. Johnson MacKinnon 
2012-13 J. Huberdeau/N. Yakupov Nail Yakupov Huberdeau
2011-12 G. Landsekog/R. Nugent-Hopkins Matt Read Landsekog
2010-11 Jeff Skinner Michael Grabner Skinner
2009-10 Matt Duchene J. Tavares/M. Duchene Tyler Myers
2008-09 Bobby Ryan  Bobby Ryan Steve Mason
2007-08 Patrick Kane  Jonathan Toews Kane
2006-07 Evgeni Malkin Evgeni Malkin Malkin
2005-06 Alex Ovechkin Alex Ovechkin Overchkin


A big point in favor of Quinn Hughes.

Although, what about the times where the rookie goal leader had a lead of six or more goals over the next rookie, as Kubalik currently enjoys?

  Rookie goals leader Runner up Calder Trophy
2018-19 Elias Pettersson 28 Brady Tkachuk 22 Pettersson
2015-16 Artemi Panarin 30 Jack Eichel 24  Panarin
2008-09 Bobby Ryan 31 James Neal 24 Steve Mason
2005-06 Alex Ovechkin 52 Sidney Crosby 39 Ovechkin
1999-2000 Mike York 26 Simon Gagne 20 Scott Gomez
1992-93 Teemu Selanne 76 Eric Lindros 41 Selanne

These are the only six times it has happened since 1990, so it doesn’t happen often. But still, Pettersson, Panarin, Ovechkin & Selanne also led rookies in points. Scott Gomez in 1999-2000 did too. But Steve Mason won a Calder over Bobby Ryan in 2008-09. What about the goalies?

Three goalies might be considered on the Calder radar right now.

MacKenzie Blackwood- Devils 19-12-7 2.79 .913 3
Ilya Samsonov- Capitals 16-4-1 2.38 .917 1
Elvis Merzlikins- Blue Jackets 12-9-6 2.29 .924 5

Blackwood has the bulk of the playing time, but overall less impressive numbers than Samsonov (who is the only goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first 9 career road games in a season!) and Merzlikins (5 of 12 wins by way of shutout!), who both probably haven’t played enough to be true Calder contenders, but have notable performances worth mentioning. My best guess is that none of these goalies end up Calder finalists.

Dominik Kubalik is at a bit of a disadvantage due to his overall point total, but if he keeps on consistently putting pucks into nets (his 14 goals since January 1 are tied for 4th in the entire league!), it will get interesting. The Blackhawks just may end up with three Calder winners over the past 13 seasons which would be quite a nod to the Blackhawks’ ability to locate dynamic forwards.

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Artemi Panarin thought he'd play whole career with Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin thought he'd play whole career with Blackhawks

The honest truth is that for the Blackhawks, Artemi Panarin is the one that got away. A new truth, perhaps harder to swallow, is that the "Breadman" never wanted to leave.

Following the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Rangers Wednesday, in which Panarin scored his 30th goal of the season, he told the Daily Herald's John Dietz he expected to play his entire career in a Blackhawks sweater.

"When I played here in Chicago I [thought] I would play here my whole life," said Panarin, whose 79 points are good for fifth in the league this season. "And then that happened. It still confuses me."

Panarin, now 28, had 151 points (61 goals, 90 assists) with Chicago in two seasons after signing a free-agent contract on May 1, 2015. The winger previously played in the Kontinental Hockey League before winning the Calder Trophy in 2016 as the NHL's top rookie. 

Panarin immediately established an undeniable chemistry with Patrick Kane, which aided Kane in grabbing the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP in 2016.

"Obviously an amazing player, a player that you'd pay to watch play the game," Kane said of Panarin. "Still try to stay pretty close with him and stay in contact and just kind of catch up here and there throughout the season."

During his second season with Chicago, Panarin agreed to a two-year $12 million contract, when he could have gotten more elsewhere. 

In June 2017, the Blackhawks traded the dynamic winger to the Columbus Blue Jackets, along with forward Tyler Motte and a draft pick, to re-acquire Brandon Saad and get goalie Anton Forsberg and a pick. 

"I was not ready for that," Panarin said. "It was a big surprise for me. I feel bad after trade."

Now, the man of bread is locked up for six more years after this one with the Rangers at an AAV north of $11.6 million and his contract has a no movement clause. 

"I love Chicago," Panarin said. "Nice every time I come here. Enjoy it. It's a great city and thanks [to] the fans for a warm welcome. I appreciate it."

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