CHICAGO — Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was undergoing tests Thursday after being hospitalized with an undisclosed ailment.
Although the team provided no official update, assistant coach Mike Haviland says the coach was having tests. When they spoke after Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Minnesota, Quenneville was “very pleased and very happy” about the game and “was in really good spirits.”
“He was joking and laughing on the phone,” Haviland said after Thursday’s practice. “So it was good to hear.”
Exactly what is ailing Quenneville remains unclear. Haviland said they didn’t discuss it.
Versus analyst Kelly Chase, who once played for Quenneville, said on the network Wednesday night that the coach was hospitalized for internal bleeding and doctors were trying to determine the cause. He also said the coach hoped to be back for Friday’s game against Columbus.
Quenneville started experiencing discomfort late Tuesday at his suburban Chicago home, went to the emergency room and was admitted early Wednesday. Team physician Michael Terry said in a statement later that day he was in stable condition and the illness was not cardiac related.
With Quenneville out, Haviland has been running the team.
The news that Quenneville was hospitalized sent a shiver through a team that’s trying to claw its way into the playoffs after winning the Stanley Cup a year ago.
It didn’t stop the Blackhawks from getting a much-needed win over Minnesota to start a three-game homestand.
“It’s not a good thing that Joel’s going through what he’s going through, but we can kind of rally behind him,” Patrick Sharp said. “We can kind of come together as a team here. It’s an important time of the year. Games are running out and we need to win, so I thought the way we responded without him was a huge step forward.”
Salary-cap issues forced the Blackhawks to make some big roster changes during the off-season, and they’ve been inconsistent all season, even though they kept core players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
Chicago had dropped six of eight and was coming off back-to-back shootout losses before beating the Wild. The Blackhawks prevailed behind a strong performance by Corey Crawford and a tiebreaking goal from Troy Brouwer in which his centring pass went off a Minnesota defenceman and went into the net.
That had to make Quenneville feel a little better even if Patrick Sharp joked: “I’m sure the staff at the hospital had to go in and tell him to quit yelling at the TV.”
The Blackhawks were 11th in the compact Western Conference with 64 points, one behind Minnesota, after the win. And although the players gave Haviland good reviews, clearly they would like to have their coach back.
“You miss him, but Havy did great,” Kane said. “It’s almost like having Q’s protege.”
The 52-year-old Quenneville is 125-66-25 in three seasons with the Blackhawks. He ranks 10th in NHL history with 563 regular-season wins and is one of only two men to coach at least 1,000 games and play 800 in the league.
“It’s a little weird not having Coach behind the bench,” Kane said. “Havy did a really good job. I think a lot of guys thought he did a really good job. You want your main guy behind the bench. … We’ll get him back real soon.”
Several players, including Kane and Sharp, sent Quenneville text messages.
“Been in that position before, where you’re away from the team, and just to hear from guys in the organization is a good feeling,” Sharp said. “Hopefully it lifted his spirits. I know he was happy with how we finished the game off in the last two periods. He’s always got something to say about the game.”