Hawks GM stands by Joel Quenneville
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman gave coach Joel Quenneville a vote of confidence Monday amid the team's eight-game winless streak.
I'm very confident in Joel's ability, our coaching staff's ability.” -- Stan Bowman
"That's not the concern for me at all," Bowman told Comcast SportsNet Chicago. "I'm very confident in Joel's ability, our coaching staff's ability."
Quenneville addressed the matter after practice Monday when he was asked if he needed to hear Bowman's support.
"I'm confident in what I do, and I look forward to the challenge ... to instill to our group a way to win and have a nice environment around here that can only get better as we go along," Quenneville said. "Hopefully we can look back at the position we are in today and it makes us a better and stronger team. It makes me a better coach."
Bowman rejected the notion that players are tuning out Quenneville, who guided the Blackhawks to the 2009-10 Stanley Cup title, snapping a 49-year drought.
"Our players -- the effort is there," Bowman said. "They're as frustrated as anybody, you can watch it on the ice. It's not working. There's no disputing that, but I don't buy that assertion at all. These players are on board with us. They believe in this group. We're not far. We need to get this turned around, but we're not far from making it work."
The Blackhawks were tied for the most points in the league on Jan. 19, but their streak -- which included one overtime loss -- has dropped them into the sixth spot in the Western Conference. It's the Blackhawks' worst skid since an eight-game winless streak during the 2007-08 season.
Much of the focus has been placed on the goaltending. Chicago still hasn't found a replacement for Antti Niemi, who led the team to the Cup. The Blackhawks felt an arbitrator's number was too high to sign Niemi, who then signed with the San Jose Sharks.
But Bowman said he's not looking for a replacement before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
"We're not focused on goaltending. We're really not," Bowman told the network. "I know there's a lot of talk about that, but internally we have to focus on the guys we have and turning it around from within."
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Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose team has the most points in the NHL, was asked by reporters Monday if he would be stunned if Quenneville were fired.
"Absolutely ... 100 percent," he said.
Babcock said the Blackhawks remain a potent team and there's no reason for them to panic.
"Joel Quenneville's the coach. They've got real good players. Things aren't going the way they wanted right now," Babcock told reporters. "They're still a very dangerous team.
"A few weeks ago, everyone thought Chicago was going to win the West. I mean, I wouldn't get in a big panic. Now, if I was them I would be in a panic because that's what you do when you're the coach there ... not in a panic, but it'd be urgency. And I'm sure Joel's feeling that right now. You'd rather it was them than you, but a little adversity never killed anybody. It's just how you respond to it."