Top 10 NHL coaches in all-time wins: Quenneville takes over at No. 2

Joel Quenneville talks about taking sole possession of 2nd all-time in NHL wins with 783 and his team’s latest win.

When the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 Tuesday night, Joel Quenneville earned his 782nd career win behind an NHL bench, tying him with legendary New York Islanders bench boss Al Arbour as the second most winningest coach in NHL history.

Two nights later, he passed Arbour.

Quenneville’s milestone win to move him into sole possession of second place on the all-time coaching wins list in the NHL came against the Montreal Canadiens in a 2-1 decision at the Bell Centre.

Here are the top 10 coaches on the NHL’s all-time wins list:

1. Scotty Bowman, 1,244 wins
No surprise here. Bowman started his NHL coaching career with the St. Louis Blues, where he spent four seasons. Bowman reached the Stanley Cup final four times with the ’67 expansion franchise, but was swept three times (twice by Montreal, once by Boston).

After St. Louis, Bowman went to the Montreal Canadiens, where he coached for eight seasons, and teamed with Sam Pollock to create a dynasty that won five Stanley Cups, including four straight from 1976-1979. In 1979-80, Bowman went to the Buffalo Sabres, which is the only team he coached that did not reach a Cup final. He failed to reach the playoffs in 1985-86 and was relieved of his duties early the following season after a 3-7-2 start.

After spending some time as an analyst on Hockey Night in Canada, Bowman joined the Pittsburgh Penguins as coach in 1991-92. He won the Cup in his first year behind the bench and after losing in the second round in 1993, he left to join the Detroit Red Wings. In Detroit, Bowman created a base for a modern NHL dynasty. In nine years behind Detroit’s bench, he won three more Stanley Cups, retiring after his last championship in 2002.

2. Joel Quenneville, 783 wins
The current coach of the Blackhawks, Quenneville also got his start as an NHL head coach with the Blues in 1996-97. He made the playoffs in each of the seven full seasons he spent there, including winning a Presidents’ Trophy and reaching one conference final. But playoff disappointments caught up to him and as the team was fighting for a post-season berth in 2003-04, Quenneville was fired.

In 2005-06, he rejoined the Colorado Avalanche, with whom he won a Stanley Cup as an assistant in 1996. As a head coach with the Avs, Quenneville lasted three seasons of 43, 44 and 44 wins before he was let go. He joined the Blackhawks in 2008-09 and, after losing in the conference final in his first season, won his first Stanley Cup and Chicago’s first since 1961. Quenneville won two more Cups in 2013 and 2015 and is widely considered one of, if not the best coach in the game today.

3. Al Arbour, 782 wins
Arbour’s first job was also with the Blues, as he replaced Bowman early in the 1970-71 season. Arbour didn’t have the same kind of playoff success Bowman did in St. Louis and was dismissed just 13 games into the 1972-73 season.

It was with the Islanders that Arbour established himself as an all-time great. In his first season, New York missed the playoffs with a 19-41-18 record, but that would be the last time they’d miss the post-season until 1989. Arbour led one of the greatest NHL dynasties of all-time, as the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 before they passed the torch to the Edmonton Oilers.

Arbour’s first tour of duty with New York finished after the 1985-86 season, but he returned in 1988-89 and coached six more seasons, making the playoffs three times.

Arbour passed away in August at age 82.

4. Ken Hitchcock, 733 wins
Currently the head coach of the Blues, Hitchcock’s first head coaching job in the NHL came with the Dallas Stars in 1995-96. He’d miss the playoffs his first year with the team, but never again. Hitchcock turned the Stars into a Western Conference powerhouse that challenged for the Cup nearly every year he was there. He lost in the conference final once, the Cup final once and won the Stanley Cup in 1999 on the infamous Brett Hull foot-in-crease goal.

In 2002-03, Hitchcock joined the Flyers, with whom he reached a conference final, but he was fired just eight games into his fourth season with the team. Hitchcock then took over the Columbus Blue Jackets and led them to their first-ever playoff appearance in 2009.

He joined the Blues in 2011 and has made them a tough defensive team that has morphed into a consistent playoff contender. Hitchcock has made a career on stingy defensive systems and transforming teams overnight.

5. Dick Irvin, 692 wins
To look at Irvin’s record you have to go way, way back. The father of Dick Irvin Jr., senior Irvin spent parts of three seasons with the Chicago Black Hawks as a player before being hired as coach for the 1930-31 season. He lost in the Stanley Cup final in his first full season and was let go. The Toronto Maple Leafs hired him five games into the 1931-32 season and he’d lead the team to the Stanley Cup in its first year playing in Maple Leaf Gardens. Irvin remained with the Leafs through the rest of the 1930s, but couldn’t win another championship. In 1940-41, he was hired by the Canadiens.

With the Habs, Irvin enjoyed his greatest success. He’d win his first Stanley Cup with the team in 1944 and won two more in 1946 and 1953. Despite making it to the Stanley Cup final in 1954-55, Irvin was let go after the season. He rejoined the Black Hawks once more in 1955-56, a terrible team that had only made the playoffs once in 10 years. They finished last in 1955-56 and though Irvin was supposed to coach them again the following year, he was forced to retire due to bone cancer. He died in May of 1957 at age 64.

6. Pat Quinn, 684 wins
Quinn played 606 NHL games as a player, but became better known as a coach. Starting behind the Philadelphia Flyers’ bench in 1978-79, Quinn reached the Cup final once there and later coached the Los Angeles Kings for three years.

In 1987-88, Quinn joined the Vancouver Canucks, a franchise that he would turn into a Stanley Cup contender first as a general manager and then as coach, a job he took over in 1990-91. With players such as Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden and Geoff Courtnall, Quinn led the Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup final, but lost to the New York Rangers in seven games. After that season, Quinn left the bench and focused on managerial duties and was let go from his position in 1997.

Quinn joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as head coach in 1998-99, turning another troubled team into a contender. Quinn reached two conference finals with the Leafs and only missed the playoffs once in seven seasons – unfortunately, that’s what cost him his job. He would later join the Edmonton Oilers in 2009-10 and lasted just one year with a 27-47-8 record.

Quinn passed away in Nov. 2014 at age 71.

7. Lindy Ruff, 681 wins
Ruff spent an amazing 14 seasons with the Sabres before he was fired nearly a quarter of the way through his 15th year with the team. He reached one Stanley Cup final in 1999 and made the playoffs eight times. He was knocked out in the conference final three times.

Ruff was hired by the Dallas Stars for the 2013-14 season and led them back to the playoffs, where they lost in Round 1. He has since coached them into an offensive powerhouse, and although the Stars failed to make the post-season in 2014-15, they are considered a Stanley Cup contender this season.

8. Mike Keenan, 672 wins
“Iron Mike” made it to the Stanley Cup final in his very first season behind an NHL bench with the Flyers in 1985. He’d do it again in 1987, but after losing in the first round in 1988, Keenan was let go by the team. His temper and inability to maintain good relationships with those he worked with followed him his whole career.

He’d join the Blackhawks in 1988 and coached the team for four seasons, making the Cup final once in 1992. In 1993-94, he joined the Rangers and won the Stanley Cup, but resigned after the season because he couldn’t co-exist with GM Neil Smith. Keenan coached the Blues for parts of three seasons, the Canucks for two, Boston Bruins for one, Florida Panthers for three and Calgary Flames for two. If there ever was a journeyman coach, Keenan is it.

In 2013 he took the head job of the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk and won the Gagarin Cup.

Watch Sportsnet’s Iron Mike: The Mike Keenan Story here.

9. Ron Wilson, 648 wins
In 1993-94, Wilson got his first head coaching job with the expansion Anaheim Mighty Ducks, a team that stuck with him through three playoff-less seasons before he reached the second round with them in 1997. Unfortunately, the team fired him after that defeat.

Wilson joined the Washington Capitals in 1997-98 and made the Stanley Cup final right out of the gate. He wouldn’t win another playoff round with the team in the next four seasons and was let go after the 2001-02 season. The San Jose Sharks came calling in 2002-03 and Wilson had good success there. He made the playoffs four times and made it past the first round in each appearance. In 2006-07, Wilson enjoyed his only 50-win season and he won 49 games the following year, but was fired after being knocked out in the second round.

Wilson’s last NHL job to date was with the Maple Leafs. He missed the playoffs three years in a row under GM Brian Burke and was fired in 2011-12 with a 29-28-7 record.

10. Barry Trotz, 634 wins
Trotz made his way into the top ten in Dec. 2015 when he passed Ottawa’s Bryan Murray with his 621st career win.

Prior to joining the Capitals in May 2014, Trotz spent 15 seasons with the Predators as the team’s first-ever coach, leading them to the post-season seven times. His time with Nashville was also his first head coaching job in the NHL, and he would go on to establish himself as the longest-tenured coach before departing amicably with the club following the 2013-14 season.

The discipline-preaching bench boss led the high-powered Capitals to a 45–26–11 record in his first year with the club before being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. Trotz and the Capitals have come back stronger than ever this season, leading the league at the halfway point of the season and are considered a top contender to win the Stanley Cup.

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