Rooting for Coach Q

Rooting for Coach Q

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Quenneville reacts during their NHL Western Conference final hockey game against the San Joe Sharks in Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks will square off against the Philadelphia Flyers for the Stanley Cup. Battle lines are being drawn around the country with the vast majority preparing to back the team out of Chicago. FrozenNotes is joining them, but for an entirely different reason – we’re behind Coach Q.

The former coach of the St. Louis Blues, Joel Quenneville now stands behind the bench of the rival Chicago Blackhawks, but that shouldn’t cause Blues nation to forget what Coach Q did for St. Louis – and honestly, how hilarious is the above picture?

Quenneville took over the coaching responsibilities in the 1996-97 season and led the Blues to a 18-15-7 record in the 40 games he coached. Things might have gotten off to a rocky start, but Coach Q kept gradually improving his team year after year. The 1997-98 season saw the Blues improve to 45-29-8 (3rd in Central) and making it to the second round of the playoffs before being ousted by the Detroit Red Wings.

The following year (98-99) the Blues improved yet again, finishing second in the Central and once again making it to the second round of the playoffs. This time the Blues folded to the Dallas Stars.

Coach Q’s most successful regular season with the Blues came in 1999-00, when the Blues stormed through the year with a 51-19-11 record, winning the President’s Trophy. However, the team slumped in the first round and exited early, losing to the San Jose Sharks in what was one of the most disappointing results under the coach’s tenure.

The following year the Blues once again made the playoffs, and finally made it past the second round. However, they fell in the Conference Finals to Colorado and suddenly there was much speculation that Coach Q was simply a good regular season coach and didn’t have what it took to lead his team to a Cup.

The 2001-02 season saw the Blues make another second round exit and the 2002-03 season saw them depart in the first round. Coach Q had already been on the hot seat due to the squad’s playoff struggled, and he was fired from the St. Louis Blues in the 2003-04 season.

The fans pointed to the fact that despite a very talented roster, the team just couldn’t figure out the riddle of making it into the Stanley Cup Finals. Still, Quenneville proved he was more than capable of building and leading a winning team, one that can make it into the postseason on a regular basis.

After the Blues let him go, it didn’t take long for Quenneville to find a new job. The Colorado Avalanche brought him in for the 2005-06 season, where he stayed for three full seasons before exiting following the Avs second round loss to the Red Wings in 2007-08.

Cue Chicago. The Blackhawks grabbed the coach in 2008-09 and he remains at the helm today.

The Chicago vs. Philadelphia series will mark the first time that Coach Q has led a team into the Stanley Cup Finals, and it’s tough to name any reason to root against him as an individual. He always carried himself well in St. Louis and was a class act on and off the ice.

One could make the argument that the Blues really haven’t been the same ever since he left and that the team still needs a coach similar to Quenneville. He was their leader but just couldn’t get his squad over the hump in the playoffs. He did about all you could ask for from a head coach, but the St. Louis organization was in a “Cup or Bust” mentality during his time with the team, and we really can’t blame the organization for having that mindset given the immense talent on the roster.

Good luck Coach Q. You’ll see a familiar face opposing you in this series, Chris Pronger, but you can be assured Blues Nation has your back. I can’t say I think there will be many Blues fans siding behind Pronger any time soon.

Now if only we could figure out the math to explain this whole rooting for a Coach and not the team he coaches …