Joel Quenneville has an opportunity to do what two other former Blues head coaches have accomplished.
Quenneville, who will lead his Chicago Blackhawks into the Western Conference finals tonight against Los Angeles, could join Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour as coaches who were let go by the Blues and went on to win multiple Stanley Cups.

Bowman and the Blues agreed to part ways in 1971, and in an illustrious career that spanned five decades he won nine Cups – in Montreal (5), Detroit (3) and Pittsburgh (1). Arbour, who left St. Louis in 1973, won four consecutive Cups with the New York Islanders.

In NHL history, Bowman ranks No. 1 in regular-season coaching victories with 1,244, followed by No. 2 Arbour with 782. Likewise, Bowman (223) and Arbour (123) are Nos. 1-2 in playoffs wins.

“I remember when they had a ceremony for Al in New York and Scotty was there,” Claire Arbour, Al’s wife, said recently. “Dan Kelly came to emcee it and I still remember Dan saying, ‘I come from St. Louis, where we had Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour and we fired them both. How smart are we?’”

Bowman replaced the Blues’ original coach, Lynn Patrick, in the middle of the franchise’s inaugural season in 1967-68. He led the Blues to three straight appearances in the Cup finals but left after his fourth season.

“They came to me one day, and Mr. Salomon said, ‘Red Berenson is not going to be here when we win the Stanley Cup,’” Bowman recalled. “He said there’s a goalie in Philadelphia, Bernie Parent, and they asked about trading for Berenson. I said, ‘Oh, they’re not going to trade Bernie Parent, impossible.’ So I called (Flyers’ GM) Keith Allen, and he laughed at me. He said, ‘He’s our franchise.’

“Mr. Salomon was insistent. He said, ‘You know, Detroit’s got a young centerman, Garry Unger, he’s 22, he’s really going to be great. Berenson is 31, on the down side ... blah, blah, blah.’ So we made the trade, but I was reluctant.

“Then later, for whatever reason, they didn’t like Al Arbour as the coach. I had put Al in as coach my fourth year to concentrate on being the manager alone. They made me come back and coach the last part of the season because they felt we were short on defense. I said only if Al Arbour comes back and plays (defense), then he gets the job next year as coach. They said ‘OK’ and then they reneged.’

“I said, ‘Well, that’s not fair.’ They wanted Cliff Fletcher out of there, Tommy Woodcock, Glenn Hall. There were ... things that I didn’t agree with, and I got mad at a year-end meeting. I said, ‘If those guys go, I’m going.’ They tried to say that was a resignation. That was the beginning of it. I just couldn’t operate with those people.”

Asked if the Blues could have a Stanley Cup today had he stayed, Bowman replied, “Kind of hard to say. You can’t look back. You’ve got to look ahead. It turned out good for me.”

Arbour was back on the Blues’ bench for a second stint after the team tried Sid Abel and Bill McCreary. But he was replaced early in the 1972-73 season, with the Salomons saying that Arbour was a “dutiful sergeant but would never be a general.”

Blues fans, who know how that turned out, still today say that the club is cursed by those decisions — and more since then.

Quenneville was hired in 1997 and, despite a first-round playoff exit after leading the Blues to the Presidents’ Trophy in 1999-2000, he led the club to only its second conference final appearance since the Bowman years in 2001.