Coach Joel Quenneville Deserves a Lot of Credit for 'Hawks Fast Start

Michael GibbonsCorrespondent IIFebruary 24, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 20:  Head coach Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on January 20, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blackhawks defeated the Coyotes 6-4. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Joel Quenneville is a pretty good coach. He has won more than 600 games and just a few years ago helped guide the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years.

However, over the years, he developed some habits that would drive fans crazy. He never seemed satisfied with his goalie and would constantly switch up his lines.

Those tendencies continued last season.

In net, Quenneville rode whoever had the hot streak, whether it was Corey Crawford or Ray Emery, as Emery, the backup, played in more than 40 percent of the games. With his forward lines, he gave Viktor Stalberg and Michael Frolik several chances to skate on the first or second line. But they often would only get a shift or two before they were moved down to the fourth line.

But in 2013, all that has changed.

Before his injury, Crawford was the starting goalie and only moved aside for a few games in this compact schedule. Now it appears Emery will have the same chance. Gone is the switching back and forth from game to game.

In years past, someone like Brandon Saad would have never been given much time on the top line without producing. It took nine games for Saad to get his first goal, but now has three in his last eight games.

Everyone seems to have a role and they aren't being asked to do more. Frolik and Marcus Kruger are being given the chance to produce on the penalty kill, which is now one of the best in the league.

Dave Bolland is being allowed to stay as the second-line center, and youngster Andrew Shaw is being given the chance to see if he can replace Bolland as the third-line center. In years past, this would have only lasted a few shifts, a game tops, before Quenneville would have changed things back.

Even during the championship season, Quenneville didn't have such set roles for players.

So why the change?

Maybe it's age. Maybe it's that he finally listened to the critics. Maybe it's because he was put on the hot seat after last season.

No one knows for sure except the coach. All I know is they have made history, going unbeaten in their first 17 games, and are looking to make more Sunday night against Columbus.

The only question now is whether this new Coach Q is here to stay or will we see the return of the mad scientist?

Sound off below with your opinions.