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updated: 6/10/2013 5:31 AM

Hawks' Quenneville showing what he's made of

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  • Joel Quenneville has a bit of Vince Lombardi in him, according to Daily Herald columnist Mike Imrem, showing the fortitude to make his players accountable in an era when that's hardly ever easy.

      Joel Quenneville has a bit of Vince Lombardi in him, according to Daily Herald columnist Mike Imrem, showing the fortitude to make his players accountable in an era when that's hardly ever easy.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates his goal with defenseman Johnny Oduya (27) during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago.

      Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates his goal with defenseman Johnny Oduya (27) during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville smiles during a news conference after the Blackhawks' 4-3 win over Los Angeles Kings in the second overtime period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago. The Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup finals.

      Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville smiles during a news conference after the Blackhawks' 4-3 win over Los Angeles Kings in the second overtime period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago. The Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup finals.
    Associated Press

 
 

A little more than a year ago I was in favor of firing Joel Quenneville.

Fortunately nobody listens to me. He's still the Blackhawks' head coach and his team is in the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in four seasons.

This punctuates that Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz is a patient guru, club president John McDonough is an understanding genius and I'm a knee-jerk idiot.

Indications are that the world would be a more productive place if Quenneville took the time this week to discipline his past critics. A firm hand sure has worked for the Hawks this postseason.

Last week Quenneville goosed Patrick Kane by calmly saying the winger is best with the puck and needs to want to have it. Kane responded with 4 goals in two games, including 3 in the clincher over the Kings in the Western Conference finals.

Quenneville has established a pattern during these playoffs, earlier being tough on Brent Seabrook and Viktor Stalberg.

To be honest -- my bad -- I previously hadn't noticed Quenneville publicly giving stars like Kane and Seabrook a rough ride.

That's Tom Thibodeau stuff, isn't it? The Bulls' coach says, "Do ... your ... job," and Quenneville means it too.

A headline on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website Sunday asked, "Would Vince Lombardi be successful in today's NFL?" Former Packers all-pro guard Jerry Kramer was quoted saying this of Lombardi:

"His philosophies were based on the ancient Greeks. Aristotle said something like, 'We are what we repeatedly do.' Coach said, 'You don't do things right once in a while. You do them right all the time.' Plato said, 'There is no winning without pain.' Coach said, 'There's a price to pay for success.'

"All those things are virtually unarguable. I think they worked 5,000 years ago and I honestly believe they will work 5,000 years from now."

Debatable is whether Quenneville is Aristotle and Thibodeau is Plato, or vice versa, but each makes his players know what the team's philosophy expects of them.

The concept seems so uncomplicated: The boss demands that his charges do whatever it takes to get the job done. But it's remarkable how many coaches and managers, because of their own insecurities, are reluctant to pressure premier athletes to do the right thing.

"Today, it seems like managers and head coaches have to impress players," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Journal Sentinel. "Years ago, players had to impress the head coach. ... Could Vince Lombardi coach today's player? He would have to adjust and adapt."

Neither Quenneville nor Thibodeau is Lombardi. Is anyone today as dictatorial and decorated as the late Packers' coach was?

But maybe Quenneville and Thibodeau are modern adaptations of Lombardi. Maybe they are the way a coach has to be to get a point across in this sports era.

Our local Coaches of Winter work hard enough, are committed enough and have been successful enough to earn their players' respect. Thibodeau is more animated and Quenneville more contained but both demonstrate that athletes still want to be coached.

Their styles drove the undermanned Bulls into the second round of the playoffs and the talented Hawks into the Stanley Cup Finals.

Fortunately for the Hawks, nobody was dumb enough to fire Joel Quenneville when some dummies advocated doing so last season.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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