Joel Quenneville doesn't command attention and generate hype like Mike Babcock. Maybe he should.
Winning three Stanley Cups in six years with the Chicago Blackhawks, Quenneville is quietly putting together one of the best coaching careers in NHL history. His name is already in the record books with the likes of Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour and Jack Adams.
Bowman said Monday night that the Blackhawks' success was a testament to their coach, a man who has grown from his time with the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche into a champion in Chicago.
Quenneville isn't strictly a disciplinarian or a players' coach but a hybrid with the hockey sense to read his players and situations like the best of them. It worked as he made quick line changes to evade bad matchups in Game 7 of the Western Conference final, and his shuffling in the final might have been the difference between beating the Tampa Bay Lightning and coming up short.
"You should get better in a job every day," Quenneville said Sunday. "You get a little bit more experience. You get different situations. You know the players better, the league better, might know your opponent better. ...
"I think you got to evolve a little bit with the way the game has changed."
Blackhawks players boast that they get better as the playoffs go on. Quenneville is a major reason for that.
"Joel has done an incredible job of, I think, just gauging where we're at throughout some of these series, knowing what our team needs to do, what look we need to change as far as matchups or lineup combinations, things like that," captain Jonathan Toews said. "He identifies things that will make us stronger going into the later games in the series."
Quenneville made the playoffs all seven full seasons in St. Louis and made one West final. He won two playoff rounds in three seasons with the Avalanche, but by the time Dale Tallon hired him in Chicago, the mix of Quenneville and the core of Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were like magic.
These three Cups have come with five different assistant coaches who have rotated through. Seven players will soon own three rings, and much has changed around the core.
But Quenneville said he has kept the same approach throughout his career as far as handling players and communicating with them.
"The important thing is it's about the team, accountability," the Windsor, Ont., native said. "A lot of things go into it. To me it's never about me, it's about the group around us. Try to maximize everybody's effectiveness. Team comes first. Go from there."
Quenneville will next go to another parade and by the time he decides to stop coaching should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He's third in regular-season and playoff victories behind Bowman and Arbour, and he's one of only 11 coaches to win three Cups.
Some of the credit belongs to Toews, Kane and the players, but they've been a perfect fit for Quenneville during this impressive run.
"I think there's always that comfort you feel in knowing what to expect with a certain coach because you played for him for a number of years," Toews said. "We all know how things are going to be handled from a player and coach standpoint, win or lose."
And there has been far more winning than losing.