It may seem silly now, but there was a time when the chorus calling for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to lose his job was getting as loud as the United Center during the national anthem.
This wasn't just the typical "Fire Q" tweets or message board posts you might see after a Hawks' playoff loss that amounts to nothing more than frustrated fans letting off steam.
It was February 2012 and the Hawks were in the midst of losing nine consecutive games, eight of them on the road.
The noise got so loud that general manager Stan Bowman felt he had to issue a vote of confidence in Quenneville.
"I'm very confident in Joel's ability, our coaching staff's ability …" Bowman said at the time. "These players are on board with us. They believe in this (coaching staff). We need to get this turned around, but we're not far from making it work."
They might have been even closer than Bowman thought.
The Hawks kept perspective of the big picture despite a two-week lull in the middle of the regular season that year and kept faith in Quenneville. It resulted in two more Stanley Cups. Now, after his third Cup triumph, hockey fans are debating Quenneville's place in history and Chicago sports enthusiasts are figuring where he might rate alongside Phil Jackson and George Halas.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Quenneville said after winning the Cup. "Once you do it once, you can't wait to do it again."
It goes to show that sometimes it pays not to overreact.
Quenneville said Monday when he took the job in 2008 that he walked into a team that was "ready to go." But ready doesn't always equate with results. It takes someone pushing the right buttons and despite what some think of his line combinations and his use of defensemen, three Cups in six seasons suggests Quenneville has been the right guy in the right job at the right time.
Since Quenneville took over from Denis Savard early in that season, the Bulls fired Vinny del Negro and Tom Thibodeau, the Cubs saw Lou Piniella retire and then fired Mike Quade, Dale Sveum and Rick Renteria, the Bears bid adieu to Lovie Smith and Marc Trestman while the White Sox parted with Ozzie Guillen, the last Chicago manager or coach to win a championship before Quenneville.
Meanwhile, Quenneville still is winning in a city and a sport that gives you almost no credit in the present for past success.
It’s hard to pick which of Quenneville’s coaching jobs was his best. Fans can make a case for each. Perhaps you prefer 2010, when he took a young core that didn’t know it could be that good and guided it to the Hawks’ first title since 1961. Or maybe 2013, when the Hawks went wire to wire as the best team in hockey during a lockout-shortened season when they captured the Presidents’ Trophy and the Cup.
Or maybe it was this season, when the team had to get through the final months of the regular season without Patrick Kane while Quenneville figured out a way to incorporate three deadline acquisitions in Antoine Vermette, Andrew Desjardins and Kimmo Timonen in time to make a serious playoff run.
Quenneville usually passes credit off to others when asked to reflect on his success.
"I got lucky when I came here," Quenneville said.
Despite their occasional frustration, Hawks fans are glad he's still here.