When the Chicago Blackhawks made the surprising decision to fire legendary coach Joel Quenneville on Tuesday morning, it wasn’t clear if he would return to the NHL to try again with another team. Quenneville is still owed the remainder of his $6MM salary this year and next, and could decide to retire as the coach with the second most wins all-time. Speculation immediately exploded over whether his availability would force another team to make a change behind the bench, and other coaches chimed in to say how easily he’d find work if he wanted it. Mike Babcock from the Toronto Maple Leafs said as much to Kristen Shilton of TSN:
Good man. I imagine those slopes in Denver are going to get worn out. Good friend, good coach, three Cups. He’s going to go in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I don’t know what else you say about him. If he wants to work, he’ll work.
If he wants to work, he’ll work. That was obvious given Quenneville’s record, but it wasn’t clear if he did in fact want to get back into the game right away. Yesterday, Scott Powers of The Athletic released an all-encompassing notebook (subscription required) on the Blackhawks situation and included a note from a source that indicated Quenneville “definitely plans to coach again” but isn’t rushing into anything. Interestingly, Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic made an offhand mention of the upcoming Seattle job on the latest edition of Insider Trading, after reporting that Dave Tippett will be taking an executive position with the potential expansion club, not a coaching one.
That Seattle job would certainly be appealing to a coach like Quenneville, but it would mean he has to wait on the sidelines for at least a few seasons at watch as the team is built. It would also likely mean turning down countless opportunities in the NHL, especially as teams start to move on from those coaches on the hot seat.
Much of the speculation regarding those feeling the heat has centered on Mike Yeo of the St. Louis Blues since he admitted that his “job should be in question” recently. The Blues have struggled to find much success this season and obviously have ties to Quenneville given his eight years behind the bench in St. Louis. The Blues reached the playoffs in every season Quenneville coached them, but never could get to the Stanley Cup Finals.
At this point, St. Louis, Seattle and any other team out there in connection with Quenneville are just possibilities, as the coach has been extremely quiet since the firing except to offer his thanks to the organization and players for many years of success. For now, we’ll have to just wait and see where his next landing spot is, and coaches all around the league will have to look over their shoulder now and again.