Coach Quenneville Returns to the Ice

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Coach Quenneville

The man who handed Chicago its dignity in a sterling silver Cup, Joel Quenneville, was rushed to the hospital last Wednesday with a hole in his abdomen.

With the joys of coaching the returning Stanley Cup champions, comes the pains of stress and lack of sleep. Although popping aspirins every morning may seem like the easy way out, it’s definitely not the painless way out.

Quenneville’s use of aspirins had landed him in the emergency room with serious gastrointestinal bleeding brought on by a small peptic ulcer. He was hospitalized till Sunday, forcing him to miss two games, which to ‘Coach Q’ must have been the most painful part.

By Harrini Krishnan

Coach Q with the Stanley Cup

Since October of 2008, when Quenneville joined the Hawks on the bench, he has been there every night rallying the men in the red, black and white sweaters. Within two seasons, he led the team to the 2009 Western Conference Final and, of course the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. In reality, he’s just a man. But in Chicago, he is a god.

“Coach Q is a great coach and a great asset for the hawks. I was lucky enough to play hockey with his son, when he was coaching the Blues. He actually coached our team as well,” Jake Rock, now a freshman at the University of Illinois, said. “He was a great teacher to us as little kids—around 10 yrs old, at the time. And I see how well he handles the Hawks; he is a very well rounded coach. It is special when you find a coach who can teach such a wide range of ages and skill levels effectively and patiently.”

“He’s an amazing coach and has had a lot of experience in the NHL from his success in St. Louis and Colorado, to being head coach of the Blackhawks and leading them to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years,” Christina Michalapolous, a member of the Blackhawks’ game day staff, said, her face brimming with admiration.

In the wake of his hospitalization, assistant coach, Mike Haviland, took the reigns and, with the help of Captain Jonathon Toews, led the team through four games without Quenneville.

Wednesday, the first night of Quenneville’s absence, the players rallied behind a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. Earlier that day, during morning skate, there was a thick aura of tension in the locker room. Intuitively, Haviland recognized the need to speak with the team and spear the tension with a sharp pre-game speech. “You’re battling for every inch and point now,” he told the players before they skated on to the ice. Something Haviland had said must have stuck with the players because, in addition to last Wednesday night’s win, they went on to win two more of the four games Haviland coached.

“Haviland deserves an opportunity to test out his NHL coaching abilities,” Dan Bridge, a freshman at the University of Illinois, said. “After all he is a possible off-season candidate for another coaching job.”

After missing four games, Quenneville returned this past Thursday night for the game against the Predators. Fans greeted their favorite coach with a roar of applause and cheers.

“It’s obvious how much of a fan favorite he (and his mustache) are in Chicago,” Bridge laughed.

“He may look intimidating behind the bench during games, but off the ice he’s just a down to earth, humble person,” Michalapolous said smiling to herself. “That’s why everyone loves him.”

With Coach Q back, behind the bench where he belongs, the Hawks kick things in to high gear as they near the end of the race to the playoffs. Packing 61 points of heat, trailing behind Detroit in the Central Division, they continue down the road they can only hope will lead to the finish line, where perhaps the Stanley Cup may await them, once again.

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