When that opportunity came with the offseason departure of longtime alternate captain Patrick Sharp, Quenneville quickly awarded the position — and accompanying "A" for his sweater — to veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook in what the coach called "a no-brainer decision."
"First one I've handed out, so it was special," said Quenneville, who inherited alternates Sharp and Duncan Keith and captain Jonathan Toews when he took over in 2008. "(When) we talk about the locker room, the voice that's probably heard the loudest and most noticeable is 'Seabs.' That's the way he carries himself. He's been here for a lot of years and he's been a big part of the success that we've had."
Despite it being the obvious choice for his coach and teammates, Seabrook was still a bit taken aback when Quenneville approached him at a recent charity golf outing and delivered the news.
"It was pretty cool to have him pull me aside and tell me," Seabrook said. "It is a huge honor and something you don't know how it's going to happen or if it's going to happen. We've got so many great leaders in this room and so many deserving guys."
To his teammates, there was no player more deserving than Seabrook, especially considering the 30-year-old was already providing leadership without a letter.
One of the best examples came during the 2013 Western Conference semifinals when the usually unflappable Toews came unhinged in Game 4 against the Red Wings and took three consecutive penalties. As Toews sat fuming in the penalty box, it was Seabrook who skated over, put his gloved hand on Toews' head and calmed the frustrated captain. The Hawks went on to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the series — winning it on Seabrook's overtime goal in Game 7 — en route to capturing the Stanley Cup.
"Since I've been a Blackhawk, he's been one of those guys I've looked up to and learned from," Toews said. "Regardless of what's going on with his own game, he's always bringing positive energy and everything we need to hear and feel in the locker room and on the bench. He's been a huge part of our championship runs.
"He's the type of guy everyone loves being around," Toews continued. "He brings a lot of great things aside from what he brings on the ice. It's just in his personality. It's inherent in who he is as a guy and as a player."
During his 10 seasons with the Hawks, there has not been a more vocal member of the team. After victories, Seabrook's voice can sometimes be heard through closed dressing room doors with shouts of "How about them Hawks!" That enthusiasm has been a trademark of Seabrook's.
"I've always been a rah-rah type of guy," Seabrook said. "I like to have fun; I like to get guys laughing. Sometimes it's a little bit more serious than you'd like it to be, but it's all part of it, and for the most part we've had a lot of fun here."
Now that he's officially a part of the leadership group, Seabrook doesn't plan to change a thing.
"I'm not going to change my game or do anything different vocally," Seabrook said. "You wear the letter because of the guy you are, the player you are and the things you kind of do, right? When Toews was given the 'C' I don't think he changed one bit. ... And (Keith) is the same way."
Seabrook received a congratulatory text from longtime teammate Sharp, who was traded to the Stars in the summer.
"He's always been a leader in that locker room," Sharp said. "He's one of the best teammates I've had in my career. It was probably a no-brainer to put the 'A' on his chest."
With that letter, Seabrook can now talk to referees during the game in an official capacity.
"I don't know if that's a perk or not," Seabrook said with a grin. "I've always had good relationship with the referees. They've always been great to me. We have a lot of mutual respect."
Building respect with officials, coaches and fellow players is what landed Seabrook a coveted letter for one of the NHL's Original Six teams.
"It's such a storied franchise with a lot of history and a lot of great players that have been through here," Seabrook said. "I'm very honored to be able to wear it and be part of the group."