Hawks Feel Responsibility After Quenneville's Firing

"He's going to be an icon in Chicago for the longest time," Patrick Kane says.

Chris Emma
November 06, 2018 - 2:12 pm
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville with, from left to right, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger.

Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The respect felt toward now-former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, fired by the organization Tuesday morning, remained ever present in the team's dressing room.

Veterans like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford felt Quenneville's void on the ice during their first practice under the direction of 33-year-old Jeremy Colliton, whom they must now embrace as their leader. Tuesday was admittedly a different, tough day for the Blackhawks.

"He's going to be an icon in Chicago for the longest time," Kane said of Quenneville, speaking shortly after practice. "The great things he's done for this organization, win three Stanley Cups, that will never be forgotten.

"When I first heard the news, I'm just kind of thinking: 'I wish I wasn't sick that game in Vancouver. I wish I maybe felt good on that road trip and could've played better. Maybe something like this doesn't happen.'"

Toews echoed that sentiment. The Blackhawks drafted him in 2006, and he debuted a year later. Quenneville then was hired as coach in October 2008.

"It was definitely a special time," Toews said. "Just over 10 years. I can't be more thankful for everything I've gone through playing for him, winning championships. Can't ask for a better guy and better coach."

Quenneville leaves the organization having won three Stanley Cup championships during his 10 full seasons as head coach. He's the second-winningest coach in NHL history, trailing only Scotty Bowman. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, Scotty's son, and the organization made the move official Tuesday morning, which is also when the players learned of the decision.

The Blackhawks are 6-6-3 (15 points) and had lost five straight games as the dismissal of Quenneville came down. Kane stated that he believed Quenneville got the best out of a roster that was clearly not up to par with its championship teams of the last decade.  

Crawford, whose absence due to a concussion loomed large in the Blackhawks missing the playoffs last season for the first time under Quenneville's watch, expressed his belief that the team has enough to win as presently constructed.

"I mean, we still have a lot of talent in this room," Crawford said. "Tons of skill. We just, the last little bit, haven't played the way we can. We've shown spurts of it. But day in and day out, that's what we have to get back to."

Seabrook cast a wide net as to who was at fault.

"It doesn’t just fall on the coach," Seabrook said. "It falls on the whole organization."

Colliton began practice at MB Ice Arena on Tuesday with a brief introduction and asked his Blackhawks for their best, then they all began together. New assistant coach Barry Smith, 66, who had been in the front office, was a major presence alongside Colliton in their first day working together in Chicago.

The Blackhawks now have a leader in Colliton who's younger than several veteran players, including organization mainstays like Crawford and Duncan Keith. Seabrook had actually played summer league hockey with Colliton and previously knew him through their shared agency.

While the Blackhawks move forward with their new leader, they also reflected back on their cherished time with Quenneville.

"We'll just go forward with full confidence that Jeremy Colliton is our guy," Toews said. "It's a tough day given the fact of what Joel has meant to the group of guys in this room and not only the organization but the city as well. He's done a tremendous amount, and we're very thankful for it."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​