Wednesday , September 22 2021

Colliton took over after the Blackhawks fired Quenneville

CHICAGO – Jeremy Colliton knows all about Joel Quenneville's legacy with the Chicago Blackhawks.

He thought he knew what to do too.

"I really respect Joel," Colliton said. "That's a very big shoe to fill. I will not try to fill it. I must be myself. And we are different people, so I will bring different things to the table, different ideas to the table. "

Chicago hopes Colliton's new perspective will help the team get back on track after he became head coach 38 in franchise history on Tuesday, taking over when Quenneville was sacked after a very successful run with the Blackhawks.

Colliton goes from Chicago American Hockey League affiliates in Rockford, Illinois, to NHL's youngest head coach at 33. Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz, defenseman Duncan Keith and goaltenders Corey Crawford and Cam Ward are older than Colliton, and defenseman Brent Seabrook is also 33.

"I have to get their trust with them believing that I can help them win, that I can help them get better individually, that we as staff can plan so that they can succeed," Colliton said. "So, if I can do that, there is no problem. No matter how old I am. "

Colliton and Seabrook played together when they were children. Colliton also made 57 appearances with New York Islanders for five seasons, playing in his last NHL match in 2011.

"Growing up, we sort of followed the same career path as children," said Seabrook, "playing in the Western League against each other, playing in Junior World together. When we play he has the same agent. Lots of connections there .

"So happy to see him return to North America last year and get a job at Rockford. It sounds like he did a number of things both in Europe and with Rockford last year. "

But that is far from the situation he is facing now, replacing Quenneville after he coached Chicago to three Stanley Cup titles and nine playoff matches.

The move comes after three matches without a win, extending Chicago's defeat to five in a row towards Thursday's home match against Carolina. Power play, a constant problem, ranked 27th in the NHL heading Tuesday. The Blackhawks (6-6-3) also allowed an inappropriate 3.73 goals per match.

"Decisions like this aren't made in one match, one game, or one specific thing," general manager Stan Bowman said. "It's a kind of collection of things. Of course the trip was a concern. But I think even towards that, there are some elements in our game where they are not where they should be. "

Assistant Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson were also released. Barry Smith, 66, moved from the Chicago front office to the bench as assistant coach.

60-year-old Quenneville is the longest head coach in the NHL. He has another year left on the three-year contract extension he signed in 2016 that pays $ 6 million a year, the second highest in the NHL behind Mike Babcock in Toronto.

Every time Quenneville wants to go back to work, she might have many applicants.

The former NHL defenseman has 890 wins in 22 years as head coach with St. Louis, Colorado, and Chicago. Scotty Bowman, Stan's father and senior Blackhawks advisor, are the only men with regular season wins.

Quenneville took over Chicago four games into the 2008-09 season, replacing Denis Savard after the Hall of Famer was released by former general manager Dale Tallon. What happened next was an unprecedented run for one of the Six Original NHL franchises.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Keith and Seabrook developed with Quenneville behind the bench, and Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. They also made it to the conference finals in 2009 and 2014.

"He will be an icon in Chicago for a long time, great things he did for this organization, won three Stanley Cups, so it will never be forgotten," Kane said.

Pressure on Quenneville began to increase when Chicago was swept away by Nashville in the 2017 playoff first round after the Blackhawks finished with the best record in the Western Conference. Then they missed the full playoffs last season for the first time in a decade.

The change to the coach aroused heat in Bowman, who had made some dubious steps that helped speed up the decline of the Blackhawks. He traded Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina partly because of salary problems, and every player had put up a big number with his new club.

"I believe in this list, I believe in Stan," said team leader John McDonough. "Stan is very thorough, he's very thorough and when you describe a free agent, when you break a trade, some work, some don't. You want most to go your way and from time to time, they might. But the body works very well. I want him to succeed. "


AP independent reporter, Matt Carlson contributed to this report.


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