DENVER -- Joel Quenneville was hired Wednesday to coach the Colorado Avalanche, replacing Tony Granato, who will become his assistant.
Quenneville was the coach of the St. Louis Blues from January 1997 until this February, when he was fired during a 4-12 slump.
Quenneville said he had been in contact about openings with several teams this summer -- just not the one that hired him.
"This came about so quickly yesterday -- I'm cutting the grass in the back yard and here I am sitting in front of everybody when Colorado wasn't even an idea," Quenneville said. "It came about so quickly, and I'm thrilled about the opportunity. I love the challenge."
Granato was an Avalanche assistant when he was promoted to head coach in December 2002, replacing Bob Hartley, who was fired. Granato previously had only three months of coaching experience, all as an assistant, and was two years removed from his playing days.
Granato said he had no problem handing over the reins to someone like Quenneville. He said he brought the idea to general manager Pierre Lacroix.
In five of his six full seasons at St. Louis, Quenneville led the Blues to at least 40 regular-season wins. They won 307 regular-season games but went 34-34 in the postseason.
Quenneville was an Avalanche assistant under coach Marc Crawford in 1995-96 and played a role in the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship.