In some ways it was akin to winning the lottery for Joel Quenneville when he landed behind the bench in Chicago.
Quenneville took over a team that seemed to be stalling, but was loaded with talent that was on the brink of exploding. A few months later Chicago was in the Western Conference finals after getting to the playoffs for the first time in five years and then last season, there was the Stanley Cup.
|Joel Quenneville got a three-year extension after delivering a Stanley Cup with the star-laden Blackhawks. (AP)|
The Flyers had just won for the second time in a row to tie the series, and seemed to have the momentum shifting to them in large part because they were able to shut down Chicago's No. 1 line. Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger was the Blackhawks biggest stumbling block, but Quenneville broke up the unit for the final two games, throwing Pronger out of sorts and allowing his team to regain control for good.
And for that, Quenneville was rewarded with a three-year contract extension from Chicago.
"When you have a lot of star players on a team it can be difficult," Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said this week after announcing the extension. "There's only one puck to go around and so much ice time to divvy up and you have to get players to buy into their roles.
"That's what Joel has done a great job at. It's a very difficult league to coach in. A lot of people would say we have good players here in Chicago, but I think that actually is more difficult for a coach."
That's one view. Here are a few others.
News: Anaheim adds FA Paul Mara to its blue line.
Views: So apparently D stands for desperate when it comes to the Ducks and their defense. It was bad enough that future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer officially retired over the summer, a year after Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin left the team. Anaheim would have had some retooling to do anyway, but in the meantime veteran Toni Lydman was supposed to help with the transition. But the Ducks biggest free-agent signing was stricken by a still unexplained medical problem last week that has caused him double vision. In the meantime Anaheim is hedging its bet for the start of the season by signing Mara. Just barely though. Mara was taken seventh overall by Tampa Bay in the 1997, but has never really lived up to expectations and is now joining his sixth team. And he's coming off a season that saw him spend more time out of the lineup than in for Montreal. Still he had a team worst minus-16 rating.
News: Bill Guerin offered tryout by the Flyers
Views: But first the veteran had to humble himself by asking for it. Had to be an odd feeling for someone approaching his 40th birthday and who probably never had to 'make' a team before. But Guerin thinks he can still play, a sentiment the Pittsburgh Penguins obviously did not share because they let him walk this summer. Apparently neither did anyone else because Guerin couldn't get a contract offer this summer. Pittsburgh rescued Guerin from the New York Islanders around the trade deadline two years ago en route to the Stanley Cup and rewarded his part in that run by bringing him back for another season. Guerin's numbers were deceiving though because 11 of his 21 goals came on the power play that had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin running it. Besides, Guerin got more ice time than he otherwise might have because the Penguins didn't have much on the wings last season. Philadelphia does.
News: Eric Belanger's agent lashes out at Capitals GM.
Views: Obviously the guy had to have somebody to blame for costing his client more than $1 million. So Joe Tacopina decided to burn bridges with George McPhee by telling the Washington Post the Capitals GM reneged on a deal for his client. Tacopina insisted that McPhee had agreed in principle last month to a one-year extension worth $1.85 million for Belanger, with completion of the deal pending a trade Washington needed to make for cap room. Maybe, maybe not. Thing is McPhee never publicly confirmed those reports when they appeared last month, and he hasn't done so since Tacopina went off. And obviously there was never a signed agreement or letter of intent, something that even Tacopina conceded. So there was no deal. And now Belanger is in Phoenix with a one-year deal worth $750,000.
News: Roberto Luongo steps down as captain of the Vancouver Canucks.
Views: Better late than never for one of the league's top netminders, who has been struggling under the weight of that role with the team. Making Luongo captain a couple of years ago was part of the out-of-the-box approach new GM Mike Gillis to things because rules prohibit goalies from wearing the "C," and Luongo seemed eager to take on the role of being a leader. But the job has other responsibilities, and Luongo admitted they were a distraction. Obviously the team sensed it too because there were reports all summer that Vancouver would ask Luongo to give up the captaincy, so this public all-on-board-with-it thing is best for everyone.