Tomas Mitell has joined the Blackhawk as assistant coach, reuniting with Jeremy Colliton after coaching under the Blackhawks bench boss in Sweden. After a playing career in Europe, Mitell coached AIK Hockey from 2017-19, guiding his team to a 64-27-13 overall record.
Mitell spoke with Blackhawks.com. from Sweden to discuss coaching with Colliton, new Blackhawks signing Anton Wedin and coming to Chicago.
1. Meeting in Mora
Mitell and Colliton first coached together at Mora IK in the Swedish second division. Taking over a struggling team in a small Swedish town, the pressure was on the two young coaches from the beginning.
"It's like 15 or 20,000 people in that town and we have 5,000 at the hockey game. So if you compare it to Chicago, it would be like having 2.5 million people at the game," Mitell said.
After helping Mora IK gain promotion to the SHL, Mitell took over AIK Hockey in the Swedish second division, leading the team an impressive 64-27-13 record during his two seasons in charge.
2. Scouting the Swedes
The Blackhawks boast a strong Swedish contingent with Erik Gustafsson, Marcus Kruger, Carl Dahlström and Gustav Forsling playing important minutes for the team this year. You can add the newest member of the Blackhawks organization to that list, as Chicago inked Anton Wedin to a one-year deal on Thursday.
Mitell has coached against Wedin in Sweden and offered scouting report on the team's newest signing.
"He can play different roles on the team," Mitell said. "He can play everywhere in the lineup. You can use him as a penalty killer and he will do that, work hard and willing to sacrifice his body. I also think he has some skill and quality to play higher up in the lineup. We'll see. It's also going to be a competition with the other guys."
3. Catching up with Colliton
Despite going their seperate ways in 2017, with Colliton heading to North America as head coach of the Rockford IceHogs and Mitell staying in Sweden to take the reigns at AIK, both coaches have remained in contact over the years.
"The relationship has been the same. When he moved to Rockford, I went to AIK and since then we have spoken with each other. Sometimes it's hockey, sometimes it's family," he said. "We know we can trust each other and be honest with each other. That really makes the process, hockey-wise, so much quicker."
Mitell said he admires Colliton's ability to give players the freedom to bring new ideas into the locker room and keep them engaged throughout the season.
"If you don't have any motivation, then it's tough to sell it to the players. He's great in that way," Mitell said. "He wants to have new opinions but also has his opinion of the way we want to play."