John Quenneville couldn’t help but be struck by the timing, his first career NHL game coming against the Blackhawks, who just happen to be coached by his second cousin.
“Yeah, it’s funny how that worked out,” New Jersey Devils forward John Quenneville said of facing the Blackhawks and Joel Quenneville. “It’s just crazy how it goes, I guess. It’ll be a fun game.”
John Quenneville was as giddy as you’d expect a kid to be prior to making his NHL debut. Recalled from Albany on Wednesday, Quenneville hopped a plane and flew directly to Chicago on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, he was skating on the Devils’ third line with Pavel Zacha and Devante Smith-Pelly.
The young forward will have seven or eight family members attending the game at the United Center – “as soon as I found out [I was playing] I told them so they could get out of dodge back home as quickly as they could,” Quenneville said.
Facing Joel will be interesting and John hopes he gets to talk to his second cousin prior to the game. Considering their schedules, they don’t get to talk much; John said he did talk to Joel at the 2014 NHL Draft, when the Devils selected John 30th overall.
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“That was really cool for me,” John said of the draft-day chat. “I wonder if I’ll get a chance to talk to him [Thursday]. Pretty buys. You know how it works, pro hockey.”
Joel Quenneville was happy for his young cousin.
“You get that first game, mom, dad and grandparents are excited and proud of him,” said Quenneville, who admits he hasn’t been able to see much of John’s game. “Kevin [Dineen] coached him a little bit and said he’s a hard-working kid. He has some skill and one of those guys who finds a way to be competitive. He does little things; he doesn’t just score goals, points. He finds a way to be effective.”
John Quenneville has seen what the Blackhawks have done – as he said, it’s “a model franchise. You don’t have to have relatives to pay attention to the Blackhawks.” To be making his NHL debut was already going to be a thrill. To do it against the Blackhawks, it’s that much more of one.