CHICAGO – Stan Bowman wanted to keep Joel Quenneville in Chicago, and the coach had no desire to leave.
After two Stanley Cup titles in four seasons, this was a no-brainer.
The Blackhawks announced a three-year contract extension for Quenneville on Friday, kicking off their sixth annual fan convention with a crowd-pleasing move.
“There’s no one we’d want coaching this team more than Joel,” said Bowman, who was promoted to general manager about nine months after Quenneville was hired in 2008. “He’s done a fantastic job over the years. I think the record speaks for itself.”
The 54-year-old Quenneville is 222-106 in five seasons with the Hawks. He led them to the Stanley Cup in 2010, ending a 49-year drought, and then coached them to another title this year.
With captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and several other players standing off to the side, Quenneville said he was privileged to coach the best group in the league.
“I know we don’t get to see all the other teams, but as far as the character, the quality, the experience, the leadership, we have all the intangibles that can make a team successful,” he said.
Quenneville’s deal was set to expire next year, but it now runs through the 2016-17 season. The announcement was no surprise because Bowman had said since the end of the season that an extension was a priority and the coach talked all along about how much he enjoyed being part of the organization.
It’s likely the last major offseason move for the Blackhawks, who return largely intact as they try to become the first team to win consecutive NHL titles since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.
“It’s a great start to the weekend with the Hawks announcing the contract for Q,” Toews said. “It’s much deserved. I mean he’s done a lot of great things for his team since he’s been here in Chicago.”
This is Quenneville’s third stop as a head coach in the NHL. The former defenseman is 660-389-77 in 16 seasons with St. Louis, Colorado and Chicago. He won the Jack Adams Award, which is given to the head coach who has contributed most to his team’s success, in 2000 with the Blues and was a nominee for the award again this year.
Quenneville led Chicago to a NHL-best 36-7-5 record this season. The Blackhawks earned at least one point in each of their first 24 games, setting an NHL record. He has recorded at least 40 wins in nine of his 10 full seasons as a coach.
“I think he’s helped me in a lot of ways, especially defensively,” said Kane, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy this year for NHL playoff MVP. “That part of the game, and how to prepare yourself as a player and how to get yourself ready for certain games and be ready at all times.”
Quenneville was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the 1978 draft and played 803 games in parts of 13 seasons in the NHL with the Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils and Hartford Whalers.
The Windsor, Ontario, native is one of two men in NHL history to play in 800 or more games and coach 1,000 or more games.
Quenneville’s long career as a player gives him credibility in the locker room, and his players rave about his consistent approach.
“I always tend to see Joel as the same old, same coach. I mean that’s what we appreciate out of him,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “You always know what you’re getting.
“We all enjoy playing for him and I think he’s always been a great coach.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap