|03-07-2005, 10:01 PM||#1|
lets go partner
Join Date: Oct 2004
Waiting to see Quenneville coach is killin me
By Tom Boyd, Special to the News
March 5, 2005
VAIL - Joel Quenneville officially was named coach of the Colorado Avalanche in July, but he has yet to coach a game.
The ongoing NHL labor dispute might have sidelined his coaching season, but Quenneville said he believes there will be a team to coach and games to play later this year.
In the meantime, he said he has had plenty of time to meet with other coaches and league officials to try to figure out how the NHL, which has been crippled by the ongoing enmity between owners and players, can return with a bang.
"Over time, eventually the game is so great and it's so fun to watch, I'm optimistic that we'll have a season next year," said Quenneville, at Vail this weekend as part of a fund-raising weekend for Eagle County youth hockey programs.
When hockey does return, he said, "You've got to create more scoring."
That might come as a surprise from someone such as Quenneville.
His former team, the St. Louis Blues, was known for a defensive style when he coached it.
But the former Colorado Rockies defenseman (1979-82) is open-minded about some of the league's ideas for increased offense.
With no NHL games to watch, Quenneville has been watching the University of Denver, attending five games and watching more on television.
He said the NHL might have something to learn from the college system, which does not have a red-line offsides rule.
"Watching DU play has been interesting - it's exciting to watch," he said. "But (removing the red line) is something we haven't spent a lot of time on yet."
The red-line rule change might be somewhere on the horizon, Quenneville said, but there is one change he would like to see right away: smaller goaltender pads.
"Tightening up goalie equipment is definitely needed," he said.
More scoring might be what the NHL needs to recover from the ill effects of the canceled season.
Even when the league was playing games, it was running low on excitement.
In the 1979-80 season, nine teams scored more than 300 goals. The highest-scoring team in the 2003-04 season, the Ottawa Senators, recorded 262.
Until Feb. 16, when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman officially canceled the 2004-05 season, Quenneville and assistant Tony Granato were kept in limbo, preparing for a season that could come at any time.
Now they are focusing on the year to come.
"There's no doubt that the business side of things will be affected," said Granato, who stepped down as coach to give Quenneville the spot. "But that's not our thing. Our thing is coaching and all we can do is get ready for it when the teams come back."
With little to look forward to for many months, the coaches are spending more time with their families, contributing to local youth hockey programs, skiing and even playing hockey.
Granato, Quenneville and the Vail Mountaineers men's team faced off against the Detroit Red Wings alumni team Friday night. They play again at 7:30 tonight at Eagle.
The moments before the game Friday night presented an interesting picture: Legendary players from the NHL gathered around to catch up, get to know one another and talk hockey.
Legends Igor Larionov, who played on the Soviet Union's 1980 Olympics team, and Mike Krushelnyski, who played with Wayne Gretzky on the great Edmonton Oilers teams of the 1980s, rubbed elbows with former players, including Dennis Hextall and Craig Wolanin.