DENVER, Colo. -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville thought back for a moment to his Stanley Cup days as an assistant coach of the Colorado Avalanche, and remembered the Hall of Fame goalie who stopped more than enough pucks to take them there -- Patrick Roy. He always grins when he thinks about those times.
And why not? It happened to be the start of coach Quenneville's champion pedigree.
Tuesday, with seven Stanley Cup rings between them, Quenneville and Roy will trade glances on either side of the glass partition as opposing coaches for two of the top teams in the Western Conference as the surging Hawks (14-3-4) begin a seven-game road trip at the Pepsi Center against a surprisingly strong Avs team (14-5) that was near the bottom of the league last season.
Quenneville, when asked, said he’s excited to face one of the best hockey minds he ever coached.
"He's the one player as a coach you always knew that he had a different level of how he saw the game and viewed the game," said Quenneville, who was an assistant coach when the Avs won their first Stanley Cup in the 1995-96 season. "(He is) probably the top of the level of all the players I've been around, and he'd be on top of that list."
"Putting it all together as a coach, he brings a lot of different elements to what coaching is all about. He's a competitive guy. He understands the game, understands people and understands what it takes to win. So he's got the ingredients that you look for. It'll be fun out there."
For the Hawks, however, Tuesday's game will have to be without forward Marian Hossa who was officially ruled out for the third consecutive game at the morning skate.
Quenneville initially thought Hossa could be back Tuesday night earlier in the week, but is now hoping the forward can return Thursday when the team visits the Jets in Winnipeg.
"(It was) close the last couple, three games," Quenneville said of Hossa, who has nine goals and six assists in 19 games this season. "I think they were all 'we'll see' and we were hopeful he could play."
Roy and the Avs, meanwhile, are struggling a bit of late. After starting 14-2, they have lost their last three games. Against the Hawks on Tuesday they will be without their leading goal scorer Matt Duchene (12) who is sidelined because of an oblique injury.
So ... taking that all into account, you wouldn't expect that same emotion from Roy as you saw in Quenneville, right?
Well, not exactly. Roy, in fact, was nothing but upbeat when talking about his former coach.
"He was an assistant coach then, and I had no doubt in my mind that he would turn out to be a great NHL coach," Roy told reporters. "And that's been the case. (He) won two Stanley Cups with Chicago. I mean, that speaks for itself."
Corey Crawford will start in goal against the Avs and will be opposed by Semyon Varlamov. The last time the two started in net against one another was last March when the Avs broke the Hawks' consecutive point streak at 30 games.