Blackhawks

How Jeremy Colliton plans to implement coaching system on the fly

How Jeremy Colliton plans to implement coaching system on the fly

Tuesday was a whirlwind of a day in Chicago. It was a somber atmosphere around MB Ice Arena after the firing of Joel Quenneville.

Wednesday was a different feeling. There was a little bit more normalcy and even some optimism too after things settled down.

"Today was a little bit better for sure, for everybody," Patrick Kane said. "It seemed like we had a little bit more life in practice and start getting excited for the game tomorrow."

It may take time for the Blackhawks to completely buy in to what their new 33-year-old head coach Jeremy Colliton is selling, but it's apparent that he's well-prepared and is confident in what he brings to the table.

"Very smart guy," Kane said. "He's got a bright hockey mind and I think he can bring a lot to our team. I think he's going to help us out a lot. Not from changing too much, but just from the way he coaches, his personality and what he knows about the game. I'm looking forward to working with him."

There's not much time for Colliton to implement his system all at once and there are a few key areas that need to be addressed, including the power play which he took full control of during Wednesday's practice. Another is the way the Blackhawks play in their own zone, something they sprinkled in to practice on Day 2 as well.

But in the grand scheme of theme of things, Colliton doesn't plan on changing a whole lot.

"The way I want to play isn't so different from how they were playing here," he said. "I just think there are differences in details that I will push. I think it's important that we don't try and wipe the slate clean here. There's no time for that, first of all, but I don't think we need to. There's a few, one or two or three things that we'll focus on going into tomorrow. As the year goes on, we may adjust things depending how things go. For now, we're going to keep it simple."

In regards to the power play, Colliton is keeping the 1-3-1 setup in place for now, aside from a couple tweaks to the personnel. That department has been a question mark for years and fixing it is high on his priority list.

"That’s a big question," Colliton said. "What we’re doing is we’re getting together as groups and we’re discussing it, throwing ideas around. I have some ideas, the staff as a group, we have ideas, watching clips of some teams that are successful. They need reps. Today you saw that. They got a lot of reps, a lot of time together. I think that’ll help and we’ll go from there. As a group, you’ve got to feel confident in your options. You've got to feel like, 'Hey this is going to work.' That’s what we’re trying to build."

It's not so much the scheme Colliton is fixated on as much as getting a positive feeling when having a man advantage and that's a good start.

As Colliton slowly starts to integrate his system into practices and games, the players know it's ultimately on them to adjust to these changes on the fly as the Blackhawks look to climb back into the playoff picture. But for now, it's taking it one day at a time.

"For myself and for the players, it doesn't matter who's behind the bench," Duncan Keith said. "We put pressure on ourselves to perform at our best and do what we have to do. And that's little habits out on the ice. Jeremy's a bright guy. We always have respect for the coach and you try to do what he tells you to do and what he wants. It's up to the players in the room. We're the ones out on the ice, so it's us guys that have to go out and execute. You can have a game plan but if you don't execute and play to what the coach wants nothing's going to work."

'Big opportunity for us': Blackhawks know importance of what's at stake this weekend

'Big opportunity for us': Blackhawks know importance of what's at stake this weekend

Every game is crucial at this time of year. But there's no downplaying the importance of this weekend for the Blackhawks.

It starts Friday night at the United Center, where the Blackhawks will take on the Colorado Avalanche. And the winner will move into the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. No biggie.

"Absolutely," Jonathan Toews said on whether there's extra motivation. "I think we knew earlier in the season that games are important start to finish throughout the regular season because you're going to find yourself in a tight spot at some point. And here we are with 20 games or so left and we're going head-to-head with division teams that are basically in the same place trying to make the playoffs. So we know it's definitely a big one."

It's even more important for the Blackhawks because the Avalanche have a game in hand. So if the Blackhawks are on the losing end of a potential four-point swing, it changes the landscape in a fairly significant way and they're back to being a couple games back.

"Oh yeah, they’re big,' coach Jeremy Colliton said. "It’s fun. Been working for a couple of months here to be in games like this. Going to enjoy it, enjoy the battle, should be a fun atmosphere."

After Friday, the Blackhawks have to get right back to work and prepare for the Dallas Stars on Sunday because there's added meaning in that game, too.

The Stars currently own the first spot in the West, and the Blackhawks could pull within two points of them by Sunday — although the Stars have two games in hand, and host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. That's a pair of consecutive four-point games on the line, which could help propel the Blackhawks above the playoff line.

"Every game is big," Patrick Kane said. "When you get a chance to play a team that you're chasing and make sure they're not putting up anything as far as points-wise in the standings, that's a big opportunity for us. We know how big these games are this weekend but I think that's just going to be the way it is down the stretch. Pretty much every game is going to be huge for us. Be nice to have a big weekend here and see where we're at."

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: Blackhawks are now tied for the final playoff spot in the West

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Blackhawks are now tied for the final playoff spot in the West

Mark Carman and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Duke and the worst teams in the NBA breathe a big sigh of relief after Zion Williamson suffers just a Grade 1 knee sprain. After dodging this bullet, should Zion shut it down and prepare for the draft?

7:00- After seeing what happened to Zion, there have been more calls for the NCAA to pay players more than just tuition. Will it ever happen?

10:00- The Blackhawks are now tied for the final playoff spot in the West. Does Stan Bowman need to make a big trade before Monday's deadline?

12:30- Manny Machado is a San Diego Padres. Patrick Finley is huge Padres fan. He gives his reaction to the big free agent signing.

16:00- WGCI's Leon Rogers joins the guys on the panel to talk about Zion's injury, the Bears offseason plans. They also discuss the controversial finish in the Georgia-Mississippi State game when a stuffed animal decided the outcome.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

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