VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville joined some exclusive company on Wednesday night.
With his club’s 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, Quenneville moved into sole possession of third place all-time with 693 coaching wins. He surpassed Dick Irvin, who posted most of his wins with the Montreal Canadiens but also guided the Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs in a career that, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame, spanned from 1930 to 1956.
“It’s been fortunate,” Quenneville said of the accomplishment. “I’m very happy with the way things have gone in places I’ve been. They’re a real nice team and put us in a real good spot here. It took a while to get this last one but, certainly, it’s been fun and we’ll keep pushing forward.”
Quenneville, a 55-year-old native of Windsor, Ontario, has led the Blackhawks to a pair of Stanley Cup titles, including the one last season. He also served as a head coach with the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche. In addition, he won a Cup as an assistant with Colorado.
But Quenneville has a ways to go before he can match Scotty Bowman, now a Blackhawks consultant, who leads the pack with 1,244 wins, and former New York Islanders coaching guru Al Arbour, who posted 782 victories.
The milestone night was highly meaningful because Quenneville guided his team out of a backward spin that had put it on a four-game losing streak, Chicago’s longest of the season. He kept his charges calm, even after the Canucks scored on their first shot, 16 seconds into the game.
The Blackhawks overcame a 2-0 early second-period deficit by scoring four unanswered goals in the middle frame and one more -- on an empty-netter by Brandon Saad -- in the final minute of the game.
“I still think that [losing] stretch hasn’t been that bad,” Quenneville said. “But I still think that it feels so much better when you have that type of an effort [Wednesday] and you get the results as well.”
Quenneville took great pride in the fact that, aside from shaky opening and closing minutes in the first period, all four lines were rolling.
“It’s night and day when works and everybody’s going,” Quenneville said of the four-line attack. “It makes us a better team.”
According to Toews, Quenneville also makes the Blackhawks better, just by his presence.
“We just have that consistency, that character throughout our lineup, and dealing with a season like this where everyone is coming at you, everyone wants to talk about the so-called [Stanley Cup] hangover,” Toews said. “But I don’t think we’ve had one.
“I think Joel brings that consistency to our lineup where we know what to expect every single night.”
“And if we start making mistakes and dropping points we shouldn't be, we are quick to correct the errors.”
The errors were corrected quickly Wednesday, ensuring that Quenneville’s wait to make history was over.