Blackhawks

Joel Quenneville wasn't surprised by firing from Blackhawks

Joel Quenneville wasn't surprised by firing from Blackhawks

You could hear a pin drop at the Blackhawks practice facility, now Fifth Third Arena, on Nov. 6 of 2018 when Chicago announced they fired three-time Stanley Cup winning coach of the Hawks, Joel Quenneville. 

Quenneville, now head coach of the Florida Panthers (third in the Atlantic Division), will return to the United Center for the first time since the firing on Tuesday. He recently sat down with NBC Sports Chicago to talk about his time with and departure from the Hawks. 

The 61-year-old bench boss doesn't seem surprised by the timing of when he was let go by the Blackhawks based on the way coaches are being tossed around in today's NHL. Quenneville was relieved of coaching duties in Chicago following a five-game losing streak that gave the team a 6-6-3 record to start the 2018-19 season.

"At the time surprised or not? Maybe not," Quenneville said. "But after what's going on this year [with the coaching firings across the NHL], I'm going to say not surprised at all. I think in our business, it happens. 

"We're seeing a number of coaches lose their jobs and then you see what happened in St. Louis [last season] and all of a sudden you got a team that was in the toughest spot in the league and they turned out to be a champion, so I think that could be how things [are] going now maybe moving forward, but hey, it happens. 

"Especially in our business knowing that's one of the negative things that can happen in our game. But we took some time away and we're happy where we're at now."

Quenneville, who went 452-249-96 with the Blackhawks, isn't dwelling too much on what he could have done differently.

"Coaching wise, I think you do everything the best you can to win," Quenneville said. "We had a tough year the year before, that start to the season, we had a decent start. The Calgary game (Nov. 3, 2018: 5-3 loss in Calgary) was the last game, I could look back and say I wish I could've done this, I wish I could've done that, kind of like what we do after every game here."

In the Calgary game, Quenneville drew criticism after failing to put a player in the penalty box after Duncan Keith drew a five-minute major that included a game misconduct. After a penalty expires, the fifth player must come from the penalty box per league rules. The Hawks were forced to skate with four players for almost two extra minutes.

"We're always looking, me or our staff, looking at things that I should've done differently, whether who we had on the ice at a certain time and sitting there, 'yeah I should've done this,'" Q said. "So we reflect like that. 

"And I think that second guessing ourselves is something you can learn over the course of a season but the gut and the spontaneousness of coaching is what we enjoy and sometimes you can always second guess yourself on that type of stuff."

Dale Tallon, now GM of the Panthers, was Quenneville's first GM in Chicago from the time he became the head coach - Oct. 16, 2008 - until July of 2009. Quenneville weighed in on his relationship with Tallon and Stan Bowman, still GM of the Hawks, who took over for Dale. 

"Dale's fine," Quenneville said. "We've been with Dale before. I think as long as you're well aware of what's going on with the team, where we're at, the game's different, there's a business side of it, there's a hockey side of it. 

"And Stan [Bowman], we had a good relationship. It was fine. We were respectful for each other's jobs and roles and how we did our things, and that's kind of the way it was or is. 

"I probably see Dale more. We're always talking hockey and you're talking about this or that so that's just the way it is. I'm respectful for their position and the jobs they're doing and what they've done."

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2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 1 win over Sharks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 1 win over Sharks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

Despite opening the Western Conference Final on the road, the Blackhawks overcame an early deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in Game 1 at HP Pavillon. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. An epic goaltending battle

The Blackhawks and Sharks ranked third and fourth, respectively, in goals per game going into the playoffs, so it wasn't a surprise to see two of the NHL's best offensive teams reach the Final Four.

The offensive firepower was on full display in Game 1, with the two teams combining for 85 shots on goal, 68 scoring chances and 22 high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. But it was the goaltending that stole the show.

Antti Niemi made a career-high 44 saves on 45 shots for a save percentage of .978. He also stopped all 13 high-danger chances. His counterpart Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 38 of 40 shots, including all nine high-danger chances, for a save percentage of .950. 

2. Escaping the special teams nightmare

The Blackhawks made Game 1 very difficult on themselves in the special teams department. They committed five minor penalties compared to the Sharks' zero, which is as lopsided a ratio as you'll ever see in the playoffs.

The Sharks capitalized on one of those five chances but credit the Blackhawks for hanging in on the other four. They played a full 60 minutes without a single man advantage and made sure it wasn't the reason they lost the game.

3. The legend of Dustin Byfuglien grows

You are going to see a lot of Byfuglien in this series, and he didn't waste any time.

In a 1-1 tie, a wide-open Big Buff pounded his stick on the ice, received a pass from Patrick Kane in the high slot and buried a slap shot past Nabokov with 6:45 left in regulation and it turned out to be the game-winner.

Byfuglien scored a goal in all four games and was credited with the game-winner in three of them. Game 1 was just the start.

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Blackhawks re-sign Highmore, Lankinen, agree to terms with 2 prospects

Blackhawks re-sign Highmore, Lankinen, agree to terms with 2 prospects

The Blackhawks announced on Thursday that they have re-signed pending restricted free agent forward Matthew Highmore and goaltender Kevin Lankinen, and agreed to terms with forward prospects Evan Barratt and Andrei Altybarmakyan on entry-level contracts.

Highmore's deal runs for two years through the 2021-22 season and carries a $725,000 average annual value (AAV). Lankinen's deal is also for two years and runs through the 2021-22 campaign, and carries a $800,000 AAV.

Barratt's deal runs for three years through the 2022-23 season and carries an $870,000 AAV, while Altybarmakyan's is a two-year deal that runs through the 2021-22 campaign and carries a $817,500 AAV.

Highmore has six points (two goals, four assists) in 36 games with the Blackhawks this season and registered 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 21 games with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Lankinen went 8-10-2 with a 3.03 goals against average and .909 save percentage for Rockford before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on March 2.

Barratt, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the third round (No. 90 overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, is the most notable signing. He registered a team-high 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points in 34 games during his junior season at Penn State, and was also a Hobey Baker nominee in 2019 after setting career-highs in goals (16), assists (27) and points (43) as a sophomore.

Altybarmakyan was also taken in the third round (No. 70 overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft. He registered career highs in goals (six), assists (11) and points (17) in 49 games this season for HK Sochi of the Kontinental Hockey League, and appeared in three games for HK Tambov of the VHL.

With the re-signing of Highmore and Lankinen, the Blackhawks now have nine pending restricted free agents, which most notably includes Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome.

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