The Blackhawks have relieved head coach Jeremy Colliton of his duties after a 1-9-2 start to the 2021-22 season, the team announced Saturday. Assistant coaches Sheldon Brookbank and Tomas Mitell are also out.
Rockford IceHogs head coach Derek King has been tabbed as the interim head coach. Anders Sorensen will serve as the interim head coach for the IceHogs while King is with Chicago for the time being.
"It has been an extremely difficult couple of weeks for our organization, and we have had to come to terms with a number of necessary changes," CEO Danny Wirtz said in a statement. "As we look to move forward, we know we must earn back the trust of our fans, and we are grateful for the support of our entire community as we work to do just that.
"On the ice, Interim General Manager Kyle Davidson has our full confidence and autonomy to make hockey decisions, and we support him on this coaching change. We appreciate all that Jeremy has brought to the Blackhawks, and we look forward to working with Derek as our interim head coach while we work to rebuild our permanent hockey operations leadership.”
Colliton was named the 38th head coach in franchise history exactly three years ago today on Nov. 6, 2018 after taking over for Joel Quenneville, who's the second-winningest coach of all time. At 33 years old, Colliton became the youngest head coach in the NHL and spent four seasons with the Blackhawks, compiling a record of 87-92-26.
Colliton was hired to be the head coach of Chicago's minor-league affiliate team on May 18, 2017 and guided the Rockford IceHogs to their first-ever trip to the Western Conference Final in the Calder Cup Playoffs before the promotion.
The Blackhawks' leadership group of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and even Seth Jones recently expressed faith in Colliton despite the poor start. But something had to change, and typically the head coach is the first to fall when a team struggles this badly out of the gates.
"Our on-ice goal remains the same: to build an elite system of hockey – and we have not delivered on that," Davidson said. "The fact is our play and competitiveness must improve. Every game, every shift. Today’s coaching changes are difficult, especially given the incredible personal connections Jeremy and others have made with our players in their development. We appreciate Jeremy’s contributions to the organization over the last three seasons, and we wish him and his family the best.
"We appreciate Derek’s willingness to step in behind the bench as we embark on our search for our next permanent head coach. His NHL experience as a player and work with our younger players in Rockford over the last four years gives us great confidence in his ability to lead the Chicago Blackhawks in this interim role."