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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville returned to practice and will coach the team Thursday against the Nashville Predators after missing four games because of an ulcer.
Quenneville, 52, spent four days in the hospital, receiving treatment for gastrointestinal bleeding caused by a small ulcer. He said Wednesday that the ulcer was not caused by stress, and he has no restrictions in his return to the bench.
"I was on IR for a week with an upper-body injury," Quenneville joked. "I watched all four games. I liked what I saw."
The Blackhawks were 3-1 under assistant coach Mike Haviland, including two straight wins over the Penguins and Blues. They return to the ice on Thursday in Nashville against the Predators.
"The only pain I felt over the last week was sitting in the hospital watching games," Quenneville said. "It was a great result, the last two games especially, and I feel great."Quenneville started feeling discomfort last Tuesday night at his suburban Chicago home, went to the emergency room and was admitted the next day with a problem that was brought on by aspirin. He was released Saturday and is under no restrictions. "He jumped right back into it and was excited out there, moving pucks," forward Troy Brouwer said. Otherwise, Brouwer said it was business as usual. It was nice having Quenneville back, but the Blackhawks are trying to focus on the task at hand.
The defending Stanley Cup champions, who have been plagued by inconsistency this season, are trying to climb back into playoff position in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks are jockeying with the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Quenneville is 125-66-25 in three seasons with the Blackhawks. He ranks 10th in NHL history with 563 regular-season wins and is one of only two men to coach at least 1,000 games and play 800 in the league.Having Quenneville, Brouwer said, just "brings a little bit of familiarity to the group -- line calls, play calls, stuff like that. Now that he is back, we know what to expect. He expects us to continue playing like we have been." Quenneville watched "every second of all the games" while he was gone, and he liked what he saw. He also felt well enough to return sooner, but that was up to the doctors. "I felt fine to come back the last three, but I had to get my blood work up to a different level," he said. Quenneville said the ulcer was simply a side effect of the aspirin that he regularly takes for a condition he would not disclose, and doctors told him it was not stress-related, no matter how trying this season has been. "The best part about that is it has nothing to do with anything," he said, smiling. "I take one a day for years." Quenneville said he gained a different perspective watching on TV. "There are some things that you might want to discuss with the coaches and team as well," he said. "It's a whole different way of looking at it, but I still like it better from the ice."
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.