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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