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Colliton becomes coach of Blackhawks, youngest in NHL

33-year-old replaces Quenneville, will make debut against Hurricanes

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Jeremy Colliton, named coach of the Chicago Blackhawks after Joel Quenneville was fired Tuesday, has gotten successful results quickly with his previous teams.

But taking over the Blackhawks (6-6-5), who have lost five straight and are sixth in the Central Division, Colliton has to adapt much faster.

"The challenge is to hit the ground running," Colliton said. "... It's just communication with everyone, as early as possible, with as many as possible, so that everyone is on the same page and we know what the plan is. We plan to win. That's the priority right now."

 

[RELATED: Quenneville turned Blackhawks into Stanley Cup champions]

 

Colliton, at 33 the youngest coach in the NHL, takes over for Quenneville, 60, who is second in NHL wins with 890 (Scotty Bowman, 1,244). Quenneville was 452-249-96 in 11 seasons with the Blackhawks and won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

Assistants Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson were also fired Tuesday. Goaltending coach Jimmy Waite and assistant Don Granato will remain on Colliton's staff, and Barry Smith, formerly the Blackhawks director of player evaluation, will be an assistant.

Colliton in his first season coached Rockford of the American Hockey League to its first Western Conference Finals, where it lost to Texas. The Blackhawks believe Colliton can have the same impact in the NHL.

"Watching the way his teams play and watching the way that he handles the team and his strengths as a coach are things which I think are going to help our group get to the next level," Chicago general manager Stan Bowman said. "... Jeremy [has] had a lot of success for a guy who doesn't have a long number of years as a coach, not only last year with our Rockford team, but previous to that."

Video: King on Colliton being named Blackhawks head coach

Colliton coached Mora IK in Sweden for four seasons, was 98-57-18, and helped it get promoted to the Swedish Hockey League in his final season (2016-17). He was hired by Chicago to replace Ted Dent in Rockford.

"It was similar to what we were asking him to do in Rockford: Take a young group, walk a fine line and get wins in Rockford, but most important make sure these guys are developing to move up to Chicago," Rockford general manager Mark Bernard said.

"The one thing I loved about Jeremy is the positivity he brings to the rink. Win or lose the night before, the players came into the rink next morning knowing it was going to be a positive environment. We're going to move forward, we're going to learn from it, grow and get better. Sometimes players walk into a room not knowing what to expect. This is a guy who wants to succeed and wants them to get better and is willing to work with them."

Blackhawks forward John Hayden played 24 games for Colliton last season with Rockford, plus 13 in the playoffs.

"I just remember the locker room having the right vibes all the time," Hayden said. "The most recent memory for me was our success in the playoffs, how he managed our team, players individually and the team overall. And he's not that far removed from playing pro hockey himself, so I think he can use that to his advantage."

Colliton had six points (three goals, three assists) in 57 games during five seasons as a center with the New York Islanders from 2005-11, and will make his NHL coaching debut Thursday when Chicago plays the Carolina Hurricanes at United Center (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, FS-CR, NHL.TV).

"Jeremy's a very calm individual," Bernard said. "I really never saw him upset. He handles things well and takes everything in stride. He's calculated. I think he'll take a deep breath tonight and enter his real, full workday [Wednesday]. He's vibrant, full of energy and ready to make this team his own."

 

Main photo courtesy: Chase Agnello-Dean/Chicago Blackhawks

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