October 16, 2008
"We made a tough decision that we strongly feel is the right one as we continue to evaluate our team and create a championship caliber organization that can sustain success. Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."
What else does he bring? Something that may turn the Blackhawks into the contenders we believe they are. Like structure, for example.
Savard thought the team was on the right track, but he's wrong. Having seen the Blackhawks twice in the early part of this season, there was clearly something wrong with their fundamentals. Breakout passes were bad, but not nearly as bad as dangerous passes within the defensive zone against the forecheck.
The lines didn't feel right, which could be more a product of Tallon's inability to replace Robert Lang at center than anything else. The fact that Nikolai Khabibulin started two of the team's first four games shows either Savard's basic misunderstanding of the team's offseason moves or a blatant disregard for the reality of his surroundings.
In the end, the expectations for this team and the rabid fan support Chicago has cultivated necessitated this move.
The $56-million defenseman. The 20-year-old captain. The red carpet. The limos. Hockey in Wrigley. There's too much on the line for this team to look as bad as it did in three of the first four games. And Tallon, Bowman and Wirtz pulled this trigger at the right time.
More quotes from Savard from Mouthpiece Sports.
Whether Quenneville's the right coach for this lineup can be judged in subsequent weeks. Few coaches on the open market outside of Pat Burns have the number of playoff teams that Coach Q has had. He can work with young players, and work with veterans. He can adapt to situations; witness last year's turn to the trap when the entire offense was seemingly injured at once.
I'm a Quenneville fan, and actually once needed an Avalanche fan to tell me why he was so maligned in Denver. From Joe at Mile High Hockey, some criticisms of Coach Q with the Colorado Avalanche that may carry over to his new gig:
1. Line Juggling. Joe believes that lines have been broken up too quickly, even sometimes based on a single bad shift. This was occurring well before the team's rash of injuries.
2. Goalie Carousel. While he's settled on Jose Theodore now, Quenneville's juggling between the Avs' two keepers allegedly cost Colorado points earlier in the season. Both Theodore and Peter Budaj have shown they play well when given long stretches of starts. Until a run of seven starts from Budaj beginning Dec. 13, the longest either of the goalie went was three consecutive games. Although he's also a believer in Theodore, Joe remains in Budaj's camp: "Everybody seems to forget the 15-2-2 run of last season and how Budaj anchored that expertly. He's a capable starting goalie if given the opportunity."
3. Power play. Colorado is last in the League in power-play percentage, and was third-worst before the injuries. Joe believes Quenneville's been stubborn with his personnel on the power-play -- a stark contrast from his quick trigger at full strength
Again, they are all things to keep in mind. Especially the power play and the goalies.
One last point: Is the shortest proximity in NHL history between a coach getting hired and getting a DUI?