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Article updated: 5/17/2013 7:46 PM

Quenneville one of 3 finalists for coach of the year

By Tim Sassone

The scowl, the mustache, the steely eyes behind the bench -- it's all part of what makes Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville so intimidating.

Or is he?

"He's a big teddy bear," said Hawks center Dave Bolland.

"Bolly? Really? Teddy bear? I've never been called that one before," Quenneville said. "That's surprising. Tough to comment on that one."

Quenneville was the center attention Friday after being named one of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Trophy, which goes to the coach of the year.

Voted on by broadcasters, Ottawa's Paul MacLean and Anaheim's Bruce Boudreau were also named finalists.

"We're pretty happy with where we're at as a coaching staff," Quenneville said. "All the credit is reserved for the players and what they accomplished this year. You've got to commend them for the way they prepared themselves. It was fun being a part of it. You look back on certain seasons and the fun factor this year working with this group was over the top. It was a special regular season."

The Hawks finished with an NHL-best 36-7-5 record and 77 points and captured the second Presidents' Trophy in franchise history.

With Quenneville at the helm, the Hawks began the season with points in an NHL-record 24 consecutive games (21-0-3) and finished the year with a .802 points percentage, which was good for fifth best in NHL history.

The team's 77 points set a league record for the most points in a 48-game season, topping the 1938-39 Boston Bruins (74 points).

Quenneville is a player's coach who understands the needs of his players, from the many days off the Hawks get to short practices.

"It just shows his experience," captain Jonathan Toews said. "The reason why he has so many wins and has had so much success is he knows how to get the best out of his players. Whether it's the days off or whatever, he really gives us the opportunity to be ready for those games.

"Sometimes if we have an off night or we're flat and don't have that energy, he understands we don't need to go on the ice for an hour and a half the next day and figure out what the problem was. We just need to relax and go out and play better in the next one. A lot of our success comes from our coaching staff pushing the right buttons."

Quenneville won the Adams Trophy once before in 2000 with St. Louis.

"Definitely, I'm a lot more mellow than I was then," Quenneville said. "You've got to be ready to change and evolve a little bit, but at the end of the day you still have to trust your gut and feel for the game, trust your (assistants) and be adaptable."

Quenneville is 222-106-44 since coming to the Hawks early in the 2008-09 season. His .656 winning percentage is best in franchise history.

He also led the Hawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup, the organization's first in 49 years.

"For the years I've been here and the ups and downs I've had, he's helped me with my consistency level," said left wing Bryan Bickell, who also disputed Quenneville's tough guy image.

"You see him on the bench and he gets fired up after calls or with things that happen in the ice, but off the ice and in practice and in the dressing room, he's normal," Bickell said. "From what you guys see and from what we see, there are two different sides. He brings his game face, but that's just part of his game to get us fired up and such."

Bolland credits Quenneville with making him one of the top two-way forwards in the game.

"Since I've been here Q has been a great mentor to all of us," Bolland said. "I think he's helped my game and changed my game and kind of made me who I am.

"I think you guys see how he is on the bench and how funny it is when he gets mad, but it's all in good humor. He's just been great with us. He's been great with me, a great coach who has shown me a lot of the ways to do whatever things I have to do on the ice. He's always taking the time to show you so you know what your mistakes are."

Quenneville has won 660 games in his coaching career with St. Louis, Colorado and the Hawks, but he's never had a regular season like this one.

"I've been fortunate to have been on some nice teams," Quenneville said. "The challenges going into this season was we wanted to make sure our goals-against was a regular or normal number since last year it was abnormal. Making sure our special teams improved and getting off to good start was a point of emphasis.

"It was one of those years where it was almost on automatic pilot. You don't want to think it's that easy, but certainly things fell into place in a lot of good ways."

Ÿ Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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