Rozner: Quenneville's return should be Blackhawks celebration

  • Joel Quenneville brought the Stanley Cup to the Hinsdale July Fourth parade in 2013.

    Joel Quenneville brought the Stanley Cup to the Hinsdale July Fourth parade in 2013. Daily Herald File Photo

  • Joel Quenneville is the most successful coach in Blackhawks history, winning the Stanley Cup three times in the last decade.

    Joel Quenneville is the most successful coach in Blackhawks history, winning the Stanley Cup three times in the last decade. Associated Press

  • Joel Quenneville, now coach of the Florida Panthers, gets his team pointed in the right direction in a recent game in Pittsburgh.

    Joel Quenneville, now coach of the Florida Panthers, gets his team pointed in the right direction in a recent game in Pittsburgh. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/14/2020 12:57 PM

In a week, Joel Quenneville will return to Chicago a conquering hero, welcomed through a game-day equivalent of parades with all the spoils.

The video tribute will honor the most successful coach in Blackhawks history, the bench boss of the greatest decade the franchise has ever known.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The fans will provide the requisite standing ovation and players from both sides will tap their sticks, his former stars dwindling by the year, but the few remaining on the home side will watch the hoisted Cups on a giant video board and wonder how time has flown by in an instant.

For most in attendance, players included, it will be bittersweet indeed.

It will also give those with an agenda the opportunity to turn it into a referendum on Jeremy Colliton, which is not only absurd but does a disservice to a Hall of Fame coach, now with the Florida Panthers.

Quenneville is among the best in the history of the sport, some of his best coaching unknown to the local experts when he was doing terrific work in St. Louis and Colorado.

In Chicago, it was long ago forgotten that he took over a raw team with little discipline or structure, forced at times to bench players who not only went on to win three Stanley Cups, but will find themselves in the Hall of Fame later this decade or early the next.

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And when they were at their best, it was Quenneville's ability to win matchups and offer calm under duress that led the Hawks to the finish.

In particular and truly impressive was the way he managed the goaltending situation early in the 2015 postseason, when he waited patiently for Corey Crawford to get it together and finally shine as their best player in the final three series.

But what is happening now in Chicago would not be for Quenneville, a rebuild that requires young players to get ice time and develop.

This would not be enjoyable for him and he would not be excited about offering kids the opportunity to find their way at this level of the sport.

It's not a knock on a legend. To read it that way is to have a fundamental misunderstanding of who Quenneville is and what he wants to accomplish.

It was just a lack of trust in youngsters when there was always a Michal Rozsival or Michal Handzus he could play instead, believing they had a better chance to give the coach what he needed that night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Coaching predilection, if you will.

It's convenient to forget now that there were young players who never got a proper look, who wound up elsewhere or tossed aside because it simply wasn't going to happen here under Quenneville.

This is less criticism than reality.

Second chances did not frequent the UC for the inexperienced, an understandable process for a coach trying to win tonight's game, for someone with a vision of this month and this season.

And that's no longer where the Hawks are as they try to find enough players to eventually return to where they want to be in a June far off in the distance.

Does that sound like something Quenneville would relish?

He was an extraordinary coach in Chicago and remains so, but if he were behind the Hawks' bench now he would not be winning any more than the Hawks are currently winning, and developing players would not be on the agenda.

So to use this moment to judge Colliton is about as ridiculous as it gets, an opportune narrative that makes for a simplistic tale.

More than all else, this should be a chance for Hawks fans to celebrate a decade of brilliance, a coach among the greatest ever returning to his former rink and bringing with him so many great memories.

Joel Quenneville should be feted and receive all the bouquets available.

He deserves it.

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