After watching the Blackhawks’ complete lack of focus in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, I wondered if teams coached by Joel Quenneville were undisciplined? I remembered his talented Blues teams always running into penalty problems at important times in the game and asked myself if this was a running trend with Quenneville teams.
So, I went back and examined the penalty levels of Quenneville coached teams. He has been the head coach of three National Hockey League franchises: St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and then Chicago Blackhawks. For purposes of this analysis, I only took into account seasons that Quenneville coached in full–so that removes his first and last seasons in St. Louis.
I used penalty minutes per game as our metric. Here are what the numbers demonstrated:
1997/1998: The Blues were ranked 7th in the NHL in penalty-taking (the higher the ranking, the less penalties that team takes)
1998/1999: The Blues were ranked 12th in the NHL in penalty-taking
1999/2000: The Blues were ranked 15th in the NHL in penalty-taking
2000/2001: The Blues were ranked 22nd in the NHL in penalty-taking
2001/2002: The Blues were ranked 24th in the NHL in penalty-taking
2002/2003: The Blues were ranked 30th in the NHL in penalty-taking
So as you can probably see, the Blues became more undisciplined during each of Quenneville’s full seasons in Missouri. In fact, they were the most undisciplined team in the entire NHL in 2002/03. While this is indeed interesting, his experience with Colorado was almost the complete opposite.
2005/2006: The Avalanche was ranked 8th in the NHL in penalty-taking
2006/2007: The Avalanche was ranked 3rd in the NHL in penalty-taking
2007/2008: The Avalanche was ranked 5th in the NHL in penalty-taking
So, while Quenneville’s St. Louis teams were clearly undisciplined, his Colorado teams were anything but. The fact that his team was ranked in the top ten in penalty-taking during each of his three seasons in Denver, debunks the theory that his teams are clearly undisciplined.
As for his one season in Chicago, Quenneville’s team was not exactly disciplined, but wasn’t horrible either.
2008/2009: The Blackhawks were ranked 17th in the NHL in penalty-taking
What do all these numbers mean? I’m actually not quite sure. They may indicate that the players on the ice are the main indicator of team penalty minutes accumulated rather than a coach’s emotion and philosophy. While I agree that is probably true, I also think that coaches do play a fairly significant role in determining a team’s high/low penalty output. Suffice to say, it will be interesting to see which direction the Hawks go next season when it comes to discipline.