Former Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was fired just three years after winning a championship. Could Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon meet the same fate?
It’s hard to believe that Fall of 2016 was just over two years ago. Chicago was abuzz with not only one, but two championship teams in the heart of their dominance.
As the Chicago Cubs headed into the postseason as the best team in baseball, the Chicago Blackhawks were only a season removed from a Stanley Cup championship. The Windy City was more like the “WINdy City.”
My, how things have changed.
After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Blackhawks fired head coach and second winningest coach in NHL history Joel Quenneville on November 6, 2018. It came as a shock for many Blackhawks fans, but to others it was long overdue.
The Hawks were 6-6-3 at the time of Quenneville’s firing, and things have only gotten worse. After losing goalie Corey Crawford to yet another head injury, the Hawks currently sit in last place in the Central Division and only a point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for the worst point total in the NHL.
It’s hard to say how the Hawks will fare under new head coach Jeremy Colliton with such a small sample size to go off of, but it’s also hard to imagine that the Blackhawks could have gotten any better than the second winningest coach in NHL history.
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Meanwhile on the north side of Chicago, the Cubs are in the middle of their own managerial pickle. After bowing out in the Wild Card round of the 2018 MLB Postseason, many fans have been calling for a change in manager on the North Side. It’s not exactly a new trend. After all, Maddon has been accused of (and sometimes rightfully so) making some questionable managerial decisions.
Though their personalities are complete (and we stress complete) opposites, there’s a lot of similarities to be drawn between Joel Quenneville and Joe Maddon.
For starters, both have brought a championship to the two most championship-starved teams in Chicago in the past four years. Both were in the postseason as recently as 2017, and both are among the most successful managers in their respective sports.
Quenneville was heavily scrutinized for bowing out early in the playoffs after winning his first championship for the Blackhawks two years in a row, just like Maddon’s current situation. But let’s not forget that three years after winning their first championship, the Hawks won their second in 2013.
Guess what year this will be since the Cubs first championship under Maddon in 2016? You guessed it. Third. Could history repeat itself across sides of town and across sports? It’s certainly possible.
On the other hand, many have gone on record to stress the fact that Joel Quenneville was the fall guy for the Blackhawks front office’s shortcomings. After a quiet offseason for the Cubs thus far, could Maddon also be a victim of a front office’s failure to sustain a championship team?
This year could certainly be a turning point for Maddon, and either way could be similar to Quenneville’s path. Maddon could pull a Quenneville and clinch another championship for his club in their third season after their first championship.
Or he could lose his job at the hands of a front office that doesn’t make the right moves to improve the team.
With just under a month until spring training begins, we’ll soon find out. Maybe things happen in three’s in Chicago. With two three-peats for the Bulls and three rings for Quenneville, let’s hope that Maddon can keep that trend alive with three championships for the Cubs.