Blackhawks

The Jeremy Colliton era set to begin in Chicago

The Jeremy Colliton era set to begin in Chicago

For the first time since Oct. 15, 2008, the Blackhawks will have a new voice behind the bench when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday at the United Center.

It will be the NHL head coaching debut for Jeremy Colliton, who was promoted after the firing of Joel Quenneville earlier in the week. He didn't have any nerves on Wednesday after practice, but that's likely to change as it gets closer to game time.

"Nerves aren’t a bad thing," Colliton said. "It’s energy you’re looking for. That’ll be present, so let’s go and play. ... It's gonna be special. Great arena and fans and special to be here to help the Hawks win. I'm excited for the opportunity."

In a classy move by a first-class coach and person, Colliton said Quenneville reached out via text message the day of the coaching change to congratulate Colliton on being named the new Blackhawks head coach.

"It means a lot," Colliton said. "He's a Hall of Fame coach and I'm succeeding him, and he took the time to send me a text message. He's a great man."

With the Colliton era set to begin, the 33-year-old rookie head coach is looking to simplify things and will slowly integrate parts of his system as the season goes along. What will he be looking for in Game 1?

"I want the guys to skate, I want them to work away from the puck, pressure on the puck," he said. "That’s going to allow us to play in their end of the ice and it’ll be easier to defend. That’s the big thing. Make sure we’re skating, flying and I think a lot of the other things will take care of themselves."

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

The Blackhawks recalled No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach from his AHL conditioning stint on Friday night after he appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs. He missed the first week of training camp with a concussion and the organization wanted him to get a taste of the pro action and back up to speed after not playing in any preseason games, either.

"I enjoyed the experience there," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."

Whether Dach makes his NHL debut on Sunday against the Washington Capitals won't be revealed by head coach Jeremy Colliton until after morning skate on Sunday. But where does he fit into the lineup going forward?

The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 in their past three games and aren't necessarily looking to shake up their rotation, even though they're still searching for consistency on all four lines.

The easy answer is for Dach to slide into a third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, but the trio of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad has undoubtedly been the most consistent for the Blackhawks this season. And we saw in the home opener what happened when they were separated. 

The Blackhawks held an optional practice on Saturday morning and didn't run through line rushes, but before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he took several spins on the first line with Toews and alternated with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat. It's possible Dach starts on the wing, where he can play top-six minutes and not have as much responsibility as a center would.

"I've played wing in previous years, so it's not something that's new to me," Dach said. "At the same time I'm open-minded to just getting into the lineup and helping the team win."

The Blackhawks can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

"As a kid you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach said. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis welcome Nick Gismondi into the fold before discussing Friday's win over Columbus. Robin Lehner played stellar and is forming quite a tandem in net with Corey Crawford (4:10), while the DeBrincat/Kane connection is alive and well (6:10), and the Blackhawks' struggles at even strength continued (12:10). Then, the guys react to the breaking news of Kirby Dach's recall from Rockford and discuss where he might fit into this lineup (15:10).

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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