I like Denis. Loved him as a player. Loved him behind the bench with Demers in 1993. I was as a happy as anyone when he was the one chosen to hoist that Cup above his head.
But, if I was a Blackhawks fan, I wouldn't be too upset. In matters of winning hockey games, I'd defer to a certain William Scott Bowman.
The hiring of Scotty Bowman was a masterstroke from Chicago after years of bobbing around the bottom of the standings. The subsequent hiring of Joel Quenneville and his 438-283-118 caching record was another move of brilliance considering they didn't even have an opening at the time.
The thinking man's analysis of this firing goes beyond a slow start and examines the complete organizational restructuring that's occurring in Chicago. Renaud Lavoie at RDS looked beyond Maxime Talbot and Jacques Demers's knee jerk reactions, and Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune gives the most proximal and telling account of the situation.
These analysts were listening when the important man off to the side of Quenneville and Tallon spoke:
"With a young team, that's [ultra-experienced coaches in the Central division] tough to deal with," Bowman said. "This was not done on a whim."
To be frank, I think the rest of the league may have something to fear in Chicago with Scotty in a greater position of control (as it clearly seems he is). I don't think he'll necessarily coach, but then again we saw that didn't matter in Detroit.
The thing to be learned from this situation, I think, is that sentimentality has no place in winning. Though it may be brutal, a certain cut-throat commitment to success must be taken with every decision. Take it from the man who is still the only heir apparent to the masters Selke and Pollock.
I've never though that Gainey lacks much. He certainly does have a ruthless streak (see Theodore, Julien, Huet, Ribeiro, etc.), but he has not shown he can distance himself from sentiment to the degree Mr. Bowman can yet (see Brisebois).
It'll be interesting to see what Scotty does next, particularly with the goalies. I hope Bob's watching...