By Doug Kennedy
When most people talk about the best coach in the NHL, the last few years it has usually been Mike Babcock (until his Maple Leaf days), Barry Trotz, Ken Hitchcock, Al Arbour or Scotty Bowman.
A long overdue name that I think should be on top of this list is Joel Quenneville, who is now coaching the Florida Panthers. Quenneville is currently in second place in coaching wins, behind Bowman.
Quenneville coached St. Louis for seven years and Colorado for three years before moving on to Chicago. In Chicago he had a great run; winning three Stanley cups in a salary cap era is quite an accomplishment. He coached Chicago for 11 seasons. He was fired from all three jobs, which is the usual in the NHL.
Quenneville was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1978. He played in the NHL for the Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Hartford Whalers and the Washington Capitals.
Out of the Hartford team, between 1987-1992, came a lot of future NHL coaches and executives. Edmonton head coach Dave Tippet, Ron Francis who is the vice president of hockey operations for Carolina, Dave Babych who is Vancouver’s assistant director of player personnel, Don Maloney-general manager-Phoenix Coyotes-Ray Ferraro-TSN, Todd Richards-Columbus and Mike Luit-player agent. Twenty nine players from those teams have coaching/assistant coaching or top jobs in the NHL. Truly amazing.
If I was picking, Quenneville would be Team Canada’s next coach when COVID-19 lets us go to the Olympics again.
Watching curling in the Calgary bubble the last two months has taught me a couple of things.
In the last ten years, they have done a great job marketing themselves so that the top curlers in the world can make some pretty good money playing this sport. They are now getting maximum money from the two sports networks in Canada. TSN has the rights for the Brier and Scotties, while Sportsnet has the rights for the cash spiels that draw the top 12 men’s and women’s teams from around the world. They have also expanded some events to Las Vegas. The long list of Canadian companies with major sponsorships is impressive.
There are still two events coming up, with the Ladies World Championships starting this week in Calgary. Kerri Einarson is representing Canada and looks really good right now, as she just won the Players championship this past weekend and recently won the Canadian mixed doubles with Brad Gushue. Gushue and Einarson are heading to Scotland for the world mixed doubles later in May.
I believe the Ladies professional league could learn from the curling marketing program. I am not sure they could get enough money from ESPN in the States to help their league. With help from the NHL and a better plan, I believe there could be a professional league, mostly in Canada, with a couple of teams in the United States.