Should the Toronto Maple Leafs bring a three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach to the bench?
In case you missed it, the Chicago Blackhawks have relieved head coach Joel Quenneville of his duties following the team’s slow 6-6-3 start. The Blackhawks also fired assistant coaches Ulf Samuelsson and Kevin Dineen in the same announcement. Jeremy Colliton, head coach of Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford, has been named the new boss behind the bench in the Windy City.
Now, this is major news for any team looking for a new coach, and, potentially, a huge opportunity for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring Quenneville in as an assistant coach with Mike Babcock. The Leafs currently have a team where only two players are over the age of 30 (Patrick Marleau is 39 and Ron Hainsey is 37) so bringing in Quenneville to help the young stars prosper wouldn’t be a bad idea. The 60-year old can also bring a winning ideology to the locker room, after all, he won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks.
Quenneville certainly has the pedigree that warrants a lot of interest from other teams, but should the Maple Leafs make a move to bring him in? Short answer: Maybe they should.
A Look at Quenneville
Before coaching Chicago to a dynasty, Quenneville won a Stanley Cup as an assistant of the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 before joining the St. Louis Blues the following season. He was the head coach of the Blues midway through the 1996-97 season. During his tenure the Blues made the playoffs in seven out of his eight seasons as coach, compiling a postseason record of 34-34. He won the Jack Adams Award for the 1999-2000 season, the only time he has won the award. Quenneville was fired by the Blues 61 games into the 2003-2004 season after it appeared the team would miss the playoffs.
Coach Q would return to Colorado as the Avs’ new head coach in 2005. In his three seasons in charge, the Avs made the playoffs twice, being swept in the Western Conference Semifinals both times.
The Blackhawks would name Quenneville head coach just four games into the 2008-09 season, replacing Denis Savard. He would coach the Blackhawks for 797 regular season games, amassing a record of 452-249-96. In the playoff the Hawks put together a record of 76-52, winning three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
Should the Maple Leafs Bring Quenneville In?
Now the Toronto Maple Leafs have an opportunity to bring a Stanley Cup winning coach into their organization. Obviously, Babcock is the coach for the short and long-term future, but bringing Quenneville in as an assistant coach could have its benefits. It keeps him from becoming the head coach of another team, more importantly, a team in the Atlantic Division.
Teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators may be looking for a new coach by the end of the year and making sure they can’t get Quenneville would be a great way to prolong those teams’ rebuilds.
There is also history between Babcock and Quenneville when they were the head coach and assistant coach, respectively, of a Canada team that would go on to win the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. They have a history and have both been coaches for a similar amount of time.
Both are Stanley Cup winners and know what it takes to succeed in the NHL, which they can use to build the Maple Leafs into a true contender.
So should the Toronto Maple Leafs bring Quenneville into their organization? Yes, any chance to bring experience to help guide a young team is welcome. Will it happen? Probably not. Quenneville hasn’t been anything other than a head coach since before his time with the Blackhawks and would likely want to remain a head coach of an NHL team.
Regardless of who acquires his services, the coaching carousel of the league just got a lot more interesting.