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Coach Joel Quenneville contract extension kicks off Blackhawks convention

Friday, July 26, 2013

The annual Chicago Blackhawks convention is back.

On Friday afternoon, fans poured into the Hilton on South Michigan for opening ceremonies.

Of course, they're hoping for a repeat of last season's Stanley Cup victory. For the sixth year in a row, ticket holders to the sold out convention -- the first of its kind for a hockey club -- crowded spaces throughout the Chicago Hilton.

"We go to a lot of games, and so it's wonderful for Chicago to actually win something, so we're happy about that," said Nancy Studds, of Buffalo Grove.

With a bevy of individual awards already on display, the fans piled into the grand ballroom, awaiting the opening ceremonies and the Stanley Cup, which was in the building as part of Coach Joel Quenneville's contract extension announcement.

"We came last year and it was wonderful, and we're really thrilled that this year, after winning the Stanley Cup, it should be twice as good," said Nancy Williams, of Chicago.

The Blackhawks announced a three-year contract extension for Quenneville on Friday, kicking off their annual fan convention with a crowd-pleasing move that keeps the coach in Chicago through the 2016-17 season.

The 54-year-old Quenneville is 222-106 in five seasons in Chicago. He led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2010, ending a 49-year drought, and then coached them to another title this year.

"I think you always know what you're going to get with him and I think that's probably the biggest thing for us, why we have success," defenseman Duncan Keith said before Game 5 of this year's Stanley Cup finals. "He's level-headed, brings that even-keel attitude to the team."

Quenneville's deal was set to expire after the upcoming season, but general manager Bowman had said an extension was a priority and the coach talked all along about how much he enjoyed being part of the organization.

This is Quenneville's third stop as a head coach in the NHL. The former defenseman is 660-389-77 in 16 seasons with St. Louis, Colorado and Chicago. He won the Jack Adams Award, which is given to the head coach who has contributed most to his team's success, in 2000 with the Blues and was a nominee for the award again this year.

Quenneville led Chicago to a NHL-best 36-7-5 record this season. The Blackhawks earned at least one point in each of their first 24 games, setting an NHL record.

The Windsor, Ontario, native was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the 1978 draft and played 803 games in parts of 13 seasons in the NHL. He is one of two men in NHL history to play in 800 or more games and coach 1,000 or more games.

He has recorded at least 40 wins in nine of his 10 full seasons as a coach. His best total was 52 victories with Chicago for the 2009-10 season.

ABC7's Ravi Baichwal asks a fan, "What do you get out of it [the convention]?"

"I get family bonding with my kids to see the team in a different environment than just staring at them down the glass," said Barry Woods, of Twin Lakes, Wis.

The convention will stretch over the weekend and feature Autograph sessions, memorabilia sales (even for players no longer on the team), and panel discussions involving players and staff.

Perhaps not exactly what the littlest fans want to hear, but this is a different form of family time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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chicago blackhawks, local, ravi baichwal
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