Quenneville's success doesn't bring remorse.

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I can try just as hard as I can
But I don't miss Julianne Coach Q-stache

--apologies to Ben Folds Five

Much of the hockey world was stunned when the Avs decided not to renew Coach Quenneville's contract with the Avalanche at the end of last season, and they were even more stunned that Avs fans were, for the most part, happy about this. And those people would have a valid point, because this season would have been a lot better if Quenneville were behind the bench, rather than Granato, because Quenneville is a better coach.

But even in this catastrophe of a season, much of which has been the result of poor coaching, I still do not miss Coach Quenneville. Joel Quenneville has a lot of strengths. I believe he knows tactics and X's and O's pretty well, especially in the defensive end. I think he's a particularly classy coach as well (There's no way the embarrassing display we saw last week in the Rangers loss happens under Q's guidance.) His offensive strategy is limited, but it works given the right personnel.

But Quenneville has some serious faults, that keep him from achieving the success he is capable of. He is clearly unable to objectively evaluate his own players. Tyler Arnason became everyone's least favorite Avs, mainly because Quenneville insisted on playing him when he was clearly struggling, especially late in the season. However if Peter Budaj, Ben Guite, or Wojtek Wolski struggled for even a shift they would see themselves planted firmly on the bench. Once a player is in Q's doghouse, he never really gets out of it permanently.

Quenneville's multiple grudges clearly destroyed the confidence of several of his young players. Wolski finally looks like he's becoming confident on the ice again, and Peter Budaj's confidence was rattled so badly that he's probably going to be run out of Denver. For a franchise with multiple young prospects on the verge of making the team in the next couple seasons this would be a dangerous man to have behind the bench. Quenneville's decision not to try Wolski at center last season, after Sakic and Stastny had gone down to injuries, is a direct result of his propensity of holding a grudge against some of his own players.

Quenneville also seemed to severely out-think himself at times. He would change line combinations so often that it actually made his players play worse. Sometimes they would look out of sync with their linemates, probably because they weren't sure who their linemates were. This tendency to outhink himself also led to the disaterous way in which he handled his goalies. It seemed like every game the Avs loss, Quenneville would blame the goalie and replace him the next game. It's not a coincidence that every team he's ever coached has had a goalie controversy (a trend which has continued this season with the Khabibulin-Huet duo). When you have a young goalie with fragile confidence to begin with (like Peter Budaj) it could destroy his confidence for years to come. Here's more examples of Coach Q outhinking himself.

I like Quenneville, and I honestly believe he has all the tools to be a good coach, but I think he gets in his own way. I personally think his best role is as an assistant, where there's a voice of reason that can weed out some of his biases, and some of his indiscretions.

Francois-Giguere's decision to let Quenneville go was the right decision... it was Quenneville's replacement that was the poor choice.

3 comments:

  1. Hear, hear.

    Coach Q is over-rated by the entire league. His success in Chicago has a lot to do with the highest paid goalie tandem and biggest collection of blue-chip sophomores, than it does with his philosophies.

    Some would point to Denis Savard's slow start and cite Q for the turnaround, but I say Savard got screwed after moulding his team into contenders for over a year.

    Look at last year's Pens. Take a handful of elite sophomores, sprinkle in some high-end goaltending and voila. Contenders.

    That, despite Therien's old-school disciplinarian tactics, not because of.

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  2. I don't miss the Q at all. I miss his defensive expertise (back handed compliment to Cloutier?) but little if anything else.

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  3. +1 on all accounts, but that's not surprising, cuz who wants to screw up our circle-jerk, right?

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