Blackhawks management introduces new Head Coach Jeremy Colliton
CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Joel Quenneville on Tuesday, ending a wildly successful run that produced three Stanley Cup titles and returned the franchise to the top of the NHL after years of heartache.
The trouble for Quenneville began when Chicago was swept by Nashville in the first round of the 2017 playoffs after the Blackhawks finished with the best record in the Western Conference. Then they missed the playoffs entirely last season for the first time in a decade.
With the Blackhawks struggling again, general manager Stan Bowman had enough. He dismissed Quenneville and assistants Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson. Jeremy Colliton was hired as the 38th head coach in franchise history and Barry Smith was added as an assistant.
"This is certainly a very difficult decision," Bowman said in a statement. "But I believe it is in the best interests of the Blackhawks organization. We need to maximize each and every opportunity with our playoff goals in mind and create continued growth and development throughout our roster at the same time.
"After much deliberation the last several days, with great respect to what Joel has meant to the Blackhawks, we knew we had to make a change."
Chicago (6-6-3) has dropped five in a row heading into Thursday's game against Carolina. The power play has been an issue for years, and the Blackhawks have struggled defensively as well.
The 60-year-old Quenneville likely will find work very soon. He took over as Blackhawks coach early in the 2008-09 season and led them to the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He went 452-249-96 during the regular season, and Chicago made the playoffs in nine of 10 full seasons with Quenneville behind the bench.
Quenneville is the second NHL coach to be fired in the past three days. The Los Angeles Kings fired John Stevens on Sunday.
Colliton, 33, had been coach of the Blackhawks' American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford, Illinois.
Read the team's full statement below:
The Chicago Blackhawks have relieved Joel Quenneville of his coaching duties and have named Jeremy Colliton the 38th head coach in franchise history. In addition, the Blackhawks have named Barry Smith an assistant coach on Colliton's staff. The Blackhawks have also parted ways with Assistant Coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson. The rest of the Blackhawks coaching staff will remain with the team.
Jeremy Colliton, 33, becomes the youngest head coach currently in the NHL. He was 12 games into his second season with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League and led the IceHogs to a record of 40-28-4-4 in 2017-18. Rockford made it to their first-ever 2018 AHL Western Conference Finals after sweeping Chicago in the Division Semifinals and sweeping Manitoba in the Division Finals before losing to Texas, four-games-to-two. Colliton was named IceHogs head coach on May 18, 2017-his first coaching job in North America.
Prior to joining the Blackhawks organization, Colliton spent four seasons as the head coach of Mora IK in Sweden (HockeyAllsvenskan). A native of Blackie, Alberta, Colliton guided his team to a league-best 35-13-4 record and 105 points during the 2016-17 season. Following the regular season, he led Mora IK to promotion to the Swedish Hockey League for the 2017-18 season after defeating Leksands IF in six games (4-2) of the best-of-seven series. Colliton joined the coaching ranks with Mora IK in an interim head coaching role during the 2013-14 season before taking over full-time the following season. In four seasons with Colliton behind the bench, Mora IK posted a 98-57-18 record.
Prior to becoming a coach, Colliton had an eight-year professional career primarily in the NHL and AHL. He appeared in 57 NHL games across five seasons (2005-09, 2010-11) with the New York Islanders, notching three goals and three assists. He was originally drafted by the Islanders in the second round (58th overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft.
He spent parts of six seasons (2005-09, 2010-12) in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, recording 203 points (77G, 126A) in 326 career games. Additionally, he had stints with Rogle Angelholm (2009-10) in the Swedish Elite League and Mora IK (2013-14). He also had experience on the international stage, earning gold and silver medals while representing Canada at the 2005 and 2004 IIHF World U20 Junior Championships, respectively. Colliton and his wife, Jen, have two sons, Ben and Jack, and a daughter, Olivia.
Barry Smith, 66, is in his ninth season as a member of the Blackhawks Hockey Operations staff and joins Colliton's coaching staff as assistant coach. He served as Director of Player Evaluation for the last three seasons with Chicago. He has previously served as an assistant coach in the NHL with Arizona (2005 - 07), was an Associate Coach on Scotty Bowman's staff with Detroit from 1994 - 2005 and served as an assistant coach with Pittsburgh from 1990 - 94. Smith has been a part of seven Stanley Cup championships including two with the Blackhawks (2013 and 2015).
Joel Quenneville departs as the second-winningest head coach in Blackhawks history, registering a record of 452-249-96 in 797 games since 2008. He owns the best playoff record in Blackhawks history, compiling a record of 76-52 including three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013 and 2015). His Blackhawks teams made the playoffs in nine of ten seasons and he stood as the longest tenured head coach in the NHL, having been officially hired by Chicago on October 16, 2008. He is the second-winningest coach in NHL history with an all-time record of 890-532-214. He coached 1,636 career games, first among active NHL coaches and second all-time. Prior to joining the Blackhawks, he served as head coach for the Colorado Avalanche (2005 - 08) and St. Louis Blues (1996 - 2004).
Kevin Dineen joined the Blackhawks coaching staff prior to the 2014-15 season and was in his fifth season with Chicago. He was a member of the Blackhawks 2015 Stanley Cup championship team in 2015. Ulf Samuelsson joined the Blackhawks coaching staff prior to the 2017-18 season and was in his second season with Chicago.
STATEMENTS FROM BLACKHAWKS OWNERSHIP AND EXECUTIVES ON COACHING CHANGES
Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz
"The Chicago Blackhawks front office has made a decision to release Joel Quenneville from his head coaching duties, doing so with my full support. As Chicago Blackhawks fans have seen over the last decade, this organization no longer shies away from making tough decisions or ones based on emotion. Those days are long behind us. Of course, Joel's was difficult, as it should have been. During his tenure as head coach to the Chicago Blackhawks, Joel brought the city of Chicago and our fans three Stanley Cups and an incredible era of hockey.
When Joel was originally hired into our 2008 season, we had great hope for his potential to take the team to new levels. He went beyond what anyone expected. As difficult as that decision in 2008 was, this one was tougher. But as we look to a future history not yet defined, we believe the change we made today, will provide the Chicago Blackhawks a critical element in achieving our goals of Championships in the future, including this season.
I wish Joel and his family well and thank him for his incredible leadership and results. Nothing will ever take away the success he brought our franchise, our fans and my family. Joel will forever be etched into the most memorable era in Chicago Blackhawk hockey. And for that, we will always be connected and always eternally grateful."
Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough
"This was an extremely difficult decision, given our respect for Joel and all that he has brought to the Chicago Blackhawks organization the last 10 years. His leadership during three Stanley Cup championships speaks for itself and there is no way to adequately express what he has meant to this organization. He will always be a significant member of the Blackhawks family. We have a deep appreciation for how he helped establish our standard and the Blackhawks culture and certainly wish he, Kevin and Ulf only the best in their future."
Blackhawks Senior Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman
"This is certainly a very difficult decision. But I believe it is in the best interests of the Blackhawks organization. We need to maximize each and every opportunity with our playoff goals in mind and create continued growth and development throughout our roster at the same time. After much deliberation the last several days, with great respect to what Joel has meant to the Blackhawks, we knew we had to make a change. Along with our appreciation for everything Joel has accomplished for our franchise, we also thank Kevin and Ulf for their many contributions and wish them success in the future.
We are extremely fortunate to have Jeremy Colliton in the Blackhawks organization and feel strongly that he is best positioned to continue leading our players here in Chicago. All of those associated with Jeremy strongly believe he possesses many of the tools that will make him a successful head coach in this league. He has been very impressive as a communicator, a leader, and coach. He knows the Blackhawks system, understands our players and our culture and we believe he gives us the best opportunity to have success and grow as a team."