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"Joel Quenneville Is The Greatest Gambler In The History Of Coaching"--Kris Versteeg

Kris Versteeg isn't in media right now, but he should be. Very funny, honest, natural storyteller and he had some great ones about Joel Quenneville in Chicago. 

The one thing that stood out to me was that Versteeg said Joel was just greatest gambler as a coach and was able to just read his bench, ride guys, use ice time to motivate and create competition and then he just had the knack for grabbing the right guy at the right time to turn the game in the favor of the Blackhawks. He can read the game better than anyone I've ever seen and it was interesting to hear his favorite whipping boy explain how pitting guys like Versteeg, Brouwer, Byfuglien, Ladd, etc made the team that much better and got the absolute most out of them even though the guys themselves might've hated being in that group at the time. 

For the first time Jeremy Colliton has the ability on paper to play that same game. Strome, Borgstrom, Gaudette, Kurashev, Kubalik, Johnson, and Hagel are all going to be battling for ice time. There are no more excuses for Colliton. He didn't take over mid way through the year. He doesn't have a young team. He had a full training camp. He has a good team with bonafide NHL players up and down the lineup. If he can't get it done now by pulling lineup levers then the Hawks really need to evaluate what is going on here with the coaching staff because last night was NOT it. 

The Blackhawks have been the worst defensive team in the league for the three years under Colliton and last night was more of the same. There's a lot of new faces and the Hawks opened on the road against one of the better teams in the league, but they weren't ready to go last night. The transition defense continues to be a HUGE problem. Colliton at least recognized that last night

I don't know why the communication and defensive responsibility continues to be a mystery for this team. I am hoping this was just one game against a GREAT team and things will get better. I wouldn't care if the Hawks got beat by a better team on the road for opening night if 1) they looked organized defensively while getting beat and 2) Colliton had a track record of being able to get his team to play competently without the puck. It's infuriating at this point. It'll be very interesting to see what kind of leash he gets this year after ownership and management spent a gazillion dollars on accomplished veterans like Jones, McCabe, Tyler Johnson, Khaira, etc etc etc to give him more NHL tools to play with. The game on Friday in New Jersey now becomes important because that is a team the Blackhawks should be much better than on paper. If they're not then it suggests a bigger and deeper problem. 

Full episode of Redline is available here