Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2010, 20

Joel Quenneville brought the Stanley Cup to Charly's Brew Pub
Joel Quenneville brought the Stanley Cup to Charly's Brew Pub in Windsor, ON. (Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Windsor, Ontario is a bit of a hockey paradox. Half the city lives and dies with the Red Wings, just a mile across the river in Detroit, but the other half are dyed in the wool Toronto Maple Leaf fans. And neither half will give an inch to the other half's team. Never the twain shall meet.

And yet, through last May and June, both sides were united in cheering for another team — the Chicago Blackhawks — as it would mean that a local boy would achieve his dreams of bringing the Stanley Cup back to celebrate with his hometown. And the wishes became reality when the Hawks dumped the Flyers, and as a result, Joel Quenneville was able to return to Windsor with the Stanley Cup.

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Nearing the end of a 13-season NHL career that saw him evolve from a high-scoring junior defenceman, captaining the hometown Windsor Spitfires, to a steady and trustworthy defensive NHL defenceman, Joel began to think about what was around the corner. He had an NHL resume that boasted of 803 games played, beginning with the Toronto Maple Leafs, on to the Colorado Rockies, the New Jersey Devils, then the Hartford Whalers and concluding with the Washington Capitals in 1990-91. During the last several seasons, he had spent his summers working at a brokerage house in Hartford, and it was reasonable to believe that Joel would move into that area as a second career. But destiny has a way of arranging the path ahead of us.

Joel Quenneville and the Stanley Cup stopped by the Riverside Recreation and Memorial Centre
Joel Quenneville and the Stanley Cup stopped by the Riverside Recreation and Memorial Centre.
(Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Quenneville served as an assistant coach while playing with the AHL's St. John's Maple Leafs in 1991-92, then took a head coaching position with the Springfield Indians in that same league. Graduating to the NHL, Joel was hired as an assistant coach with the Quebec Nordiques, and moved with the franchise to Colorado, where the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 1996.

During the 1996-97 season, the St. Louis Blues fired Mike Keenan and hired the best coach available — Joel Quenneville. He enjoyed great success and in 1999-2000, was recipient of the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year.

During his eighth season in Missouri, Joel was relieved of his duties. He caught on as head coach of the Avalanche in June 2004, just before the NHL lock-out, and stayed with Colorado until the end of the 2007-08 season.

He was hired as a pro scout by the Chicago Blackhawks just prior to the 2008-09 season. Astonishingly, Quenneville was back behind the bench mere weeks later when the club said goodbye to Denis Savard and instituted Joel as the new coach. That season, with a young, eager squad, the Hawks went to the Western Conference final. In 2009-10, he reached the Promised Land with his hardworking roster.

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Joel Quenneville brought the Stanley Cup to the Windsor Regional Hospital
Joel Quenneville brought the Stanley Cup to the Windsor Regional Hospital.
(Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Joel Quenneville is a hero in Chicago; the first coach since Rudy Pilous in 1961 to bring the Stanley Cup home to roost in the Windy City, but he also returned to a hero's welcome in Windsor on Monday, August 2.

The east end of Windsor is an area known as Riverside, and it was in this part of town that Joel started playing hockey as a 5-year-old, walking from his home to the nearby Riverside Arena. The family lived in the area for years; in fact, his Mom welcomed Joel and the Stanley Cup back to the family home, which is across the street and down three houses from where she grew up in.

Back in his childhood home on a treed suburban street, Joel had pictures taken with his family and the Stanley Cup. Then, it was time for a tour of the neighbourhood, visiting places he had frequented prior to his hockey career.

While attending Brennan High School, where he starred on the Cardinals' defence, Joel became a frequent visitor to Riverside Tavern. That afternoon, he swept by to meet his wife, Elizabeth, who was eating there. Elizabeth was chuckling because her waitress had been talking about the Stanley Cup coming to Windsor, not realizing she was chatting with the coach's wife. She almost dropped her tray when Joel walked in and kissed Elizabeth, the Stanley Cup arriving right behind him.

Joel Quenneville and the Stanley Cup stopped by the University of Windsor
Joel Quenneville and the Stanley Cup stopped by the University of Windsor. (Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The last stop of the evening was at Charly's Brew Pub, a bar owned by Joel's brother-in-law, Dave Cooper. This three-hour visit was fairly low-key, a special perq for the regular patrons of this popular establishment. Cooper was grinning like the butcher's dog, as not only was the incomparable Stanley Cup in his pub, but his Tecumseh Thunder baseball team had just won the provincial championship in Sarnia.

The morning of Tuesday, August 3 began with Mrs. Quenneville preparing peameal bacon sandwiches for breakfast. A few neighbours came over to say hello to Joel and see his championship prize.

Outside the Quenneville home, some City of Windsor employees were doing work on the sewers, and they were gobsmacked to see the Stanley Cup. Joel was great to let the boys have a picture with the Cup (as long as they didn't touch it, I'm sure!).

Quenneville's tour of the neighbourhood began, with Joel visiting his public school (St. Rose), Georges Vanier School and his high school, then over to venerable Riverside Arena, now closed, which initiated the careers of a surprising number of NHLers — Russ Adam, Pat Boutette, Ted Bulley, Mike and Murray Eaves, Daren Elliot, Ron Friest, Bill McKenzie, Bob Parent and Mark Renaud as well as, of course, Joel. Just behind the rink full of memories are the ball diamonds where Quenneville played baseball as a youngster.

Joel Quenneville and his family celebrating with the Stanley Cup
Joel Quenneville and his family celebrating with the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
With Stanley Cup in tow, Joel visited Windsor Regional Hospital, known to locals until recently as Metropolitan Hospital. There, he spent an hour in the Pediatric Facility, visiting the children. "It gives me a great deal of pleasure in seeing the joy in the kids," he said, bending down to let the youngsters see and touch the Stanley Cup. "I hope it helps them feel better and gets them home with their family sooner." Local business owner Noah Tepperman took the opportunity to have his newborn daughter, Lily, placed gingerly in the bowl of the Cup, and pictures were snapped in rapid succession of the precious photo opportunity.

Joel packed up the Cup and headed across town to the University of Windsor, where he spent two years before heading off to turn pro with the Maple Leafs. An excellent student, friends remember him also excelling at playing cards in the student pub, but Joel just shrugged and said, "It's the same thing. You try not to get euchred." Clearly through the playoffs, he was holding all trump cards!

Some photos were taken with the Ambassador Bridge in the background. The bridge, the longest suspended central span in the world when it was built in 1929, spans the Detroit River, joining Windsor and Detroit. Nearby, some guys were fishing in the river, and their heads almost spun 360 degrees like Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist.' "Dude," they shouted over to Joel, "You got the best catch of the day!"

Quenneville took the Cup back to his mother's home and had a quick pre-party nap. Revitalized, at 3:30, Joel grabbed the Stanley Cup and made his way to Russell Woods, located on Lake St. Clair just outside Windsor. The party was held at the home of his sister Jen and her husband Dave, proprietor of the afore-mentioned Charly's Pub. Guests were coming from all over the world, including Denver, St. Louis and Germany. Almost 100 attendees were expected to arrive from Connecticut, Elizabeth's home state, including many family members and longtime friends.

Joel Quenneville and his wife Elizabeth posing for a photo with the Stanley Cup and Lake St. Clair in the background. (Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
A large tent was set up on the property, and guests, numbering more than 400, enjoyed refreshments and snacks while listening to Bigg Wiggle, one of Windsor's preferred party bands. Drummer Mike Cooper is the brother of Dave Cooper, the party's host. There was a number of guests from the hockey world. Noted were Kevin Dineen, Joel's teammate in Hartford, Mike Kitchen, a teammate in Colorado, Jimmy Roberts, a colleague from St. Louis and several NHL alumni who are Windsor natives, like Windsor Spitfire owners Bob Boughner and Warren Rychel, former Blackhawk Ted Bulley as well as Ron Friest and Brad 'Motor City Smitty' Smith, who played junior with Joel on the Spitfires. A few pests crashed the party — literally. The mosquitoes were out in full force, all anxious to be around the Stanley Cup.

Attendees watched a highlight reel of the Stanley Cup season and the ultimate victory, and then Joel walked through the tent carrying the Stanley Cup over his head, greeted by a resounding cheer. He then deposited the Cup on a stand and gave a wonderful speech, mentioning learning his hockey skills and loving the game while playing in the Riverside Minor Hockey Association, and the thrill of later playing and captaining the hometown Windsor Spitfires. A sensitive guy in spite of his often tough façade while behind the bench, Joel was brought to tears at one point, absolutely humbled by his team's accomplishment and the warmth of those at his party.

One by one, everyone in attendance got to have his/her picture taken with Quenneville and the Stanley Cup, a thrill for family and friends.

It was a nostalgic day of celebration for Joel and the second time he had graced Windsor with the Stanley Cup this summer (he had earlier brought the Cup for a Canada Day parade in his hometown). But party over, it's back to work for Coach Q. With the Stanley Cup packed and about to head off to Europe, Joel, Elizabeth and children Dylan, Lily and Anna return to Chicago, where the coach will get back to preparing to defend Chicago's Stanley Cup championship.

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Make sure you bookmark this site, because on Friday, the Stanley Cup Journal spends the day with Tomas Kopecky in Slovakia.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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