Blackhawks lock up Joel Quenneville through 2019-20 season


Blackhawks lock up Joel Quenneville through 2019-20 season

It wasn’t so much if coach Joel Quenneville’s extension was going to get done. It was when.

Quenneville, coming off his third Stanley Cup in his past six seasons here, still has two years on his current contract. On Tuesday, that expected extension came through.

The Blackhawks signed Quenneville to a three-year extension that will take him through the 2019-20 season. The team did not release financial terms of the deal; Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported the extension could be worth $18 million over those three years.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“Yeah, we’re happy,” said Quenneville, who is also one victory away from tying Al Arbour for the second-most coaching victories in NHL history (782). “We’re in a great spot here. It’s been a fun time and we have a fun situation going on here. We’ve having a good stretch here and look forward to try to continue on.”

General manager Stan Bowman talked in the offseason that a Quenneville extension as going to happen at some point.

“I think with any negotiation it takes a little bit of time, but I wouldn't say it was a really drawn-out thing,” he said. “We've got a great situation going here. We're fortunate to have Joel on board and he's been a huge part of what we've accomplished as a group, and there's no one more you'd want on the bench than Joel. So, we're looking for some continuity and we’ve had it here.

“I think it’s a testament to the job Joel's done in today's game,” Bowman continued. “It's tough for coaches to last, and I think certainly because of the accomplishments for the team, led by Joel, is a big part of it. We're excited for what's to come.”

The 57-year-old Quenneville took over the job on Oct. 16, 2008. The Blackhawks had a dynamic young team and the possibility to do something great. Still, there may not have been many who would have projected the Blackhawks to do what they’ve done these past few seasons. The core hasn’t changed much but the Blackhawks have otherwise gone through plenty of salary cap-related alterations. Yet they, and Quenneville, just keep winning.

“In your wildest dreams you wouldn’t have expected what happened to happen,” Quenneville said of when he first took over. “We improved as we were going through that year, got some good educations right off the bat and immediately won. It was a great beginning but [we have] a tremendous group to work with, knowing your leaders have that type of character you hope to have on your team. They send the right message and you couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in as a coach.”

Blackhawks players were happy to hear the news.

“First of all, he definitely deserves it with what he’s done with this franchise. He’s gotten the results and players like to play with him,” said Marian Hossa. “[He gives us] lots of days off; he’s really reasonable. But on the other hand he expects things. We’re happy for him and his new deal. I think it’s great for the city.”

[MORE - Marian Hossa relieved to snap scoring slump]

Trevor van Riemsdyk, who entered last training camp relatively unknown and earned a job on the starting lineup, agreed.

“I’ve only been here a short period of time but you see instantaneously why he’s such a great coach and why he’s been so successful,” he said. “I’ll be forever grateful for that chance to play right away. He had nothing but positive things to say and it meant a lot, especially coming from someone like coach Q who’s been through so much, coached so many players and has been so successful. I’m really happy for him.”

Quenneville has had some great coaching seasons, especially here in Chicago. Will he ever catch Scotty Bowman’s record of 1,244 all-time coaching victories? As Quenneville said with a grin, “it’s a stretch.” Quenneville isn’t much for looking too far down the path anyway. Right now, life and coaching is good. So is the added few years of security.

“I felt fortunate when I started that I’ve been around really good players, teams and situations, and none better than here in Chicago,” he said. “I’ve been some healthy situations where we’ve had success. It makes the job that much more enjoyable. There are always some tough situations over the course of the years but for the most part, it’s gone by extremely quick an that’s why it’s been so much fun.”

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!