Chicago’s love for former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was on full display at the United Center on Tuesday night, as the capacity crowd gave Quenneville a rousing ovation during the Hawks’ game against the Florida Panthers.
It was Quenneville’s first return to the UC since he was abruptly fired by the Hawks in November of 2018.
Early November of 2018 was a tough time for Joel Quenneville. Few people know he was dealing with a much bigger issue at the time, after his nephew Connor Zieky was found unresponsive in a near-north side Chicago apartment.
Connor's death was ruled an accidental drug overdose. He was just 27 years old.
Connor was the second of four boys. His family describes him as wild, funny, adventurous and magnetic. To his Uncle Joel, he was special, and his sudden death was devastating.
“Losing Connor was one of the hardest things that my family and I have ever gone through and are still going through,” Quenneville tells NBC 5 Chicago.
In the year since his death, Connor’s family established the Connor Scott Zieky Fund. Its goal – “to empower young adults struggling with substance abuse and mental health to live a healthy lifestyle, make positive decisions and build a higher level of self-concept.”
The Quenneville family wanted to support the foundation by doing something special for Connor. The idea they came up with: gathering Joel’s best pictures from his three Stanley Cup championships with the Blackhawks, and making them into a jersey personally signed by the coach.
For a limited time, that one-of-a-kind jersey is up for auction, with the proceeds going to the Connor Scott Zieky Fund.
“Fourteen months ago we lost a very special person in our life," Quenneville said. "Going forward we hope to bring awareness, support and education to substance abuse and mental health through the Connor Scott Zieky Fund. We appreciate your support.”