Blackhawks fire head coach Jeremy Colliton
Jeremy Colliton is out as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks following a dismal start to the 2021-22 regular season that has seen the team win just one of its first 12 games.
Assistant coaches Tomas Mitell and Sheldon Brookbank were also let go.
Derek King will take over as the Blackhawks’ interim head coach.
The team also announced that Marc Crawford, Jimmy Waite, Matt Meacham and Dylan Crawford will maintain their current assistant coaching duties.
The Blackhawks made the announcement on Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after another embarrassing loss (5-1 to the Winnipeg Jets) on Friday night that saw them give up two early goals and offer no push back in the second and third periods.
“Our on-ice goal remains the same: to build an elite system of hockey - and we have not delivered on that,” Blackhawks interim general manager Kyle Davidson said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
[Related: Stunning numbers from first month of 2021-22 NHL season]
Colliton has been the Blackhawks’ head coach since replacing Joel Quenneville early in the 2018-19 season. They compiled an 87-92-26 record during his tenure. They qualified for the playoffs just one time, but even that comes with an asterisk as it was during the 2019-20 bubble season when they were included in the league’s Return To Play as the 23rd ranked team in the league. In a normal season and normal playoff format they would not have been close to a playoff team in the Western Conference.
During Colliton’s time behind the Chicago bench the team was consistently one of the worst defensive teams in hockey and showed little to no improvement from year to year.
That had to be especially frustrating this season given all of the changes the Blackhawks made to the roster in the offseason.
These early struggles are not the result of a team that was going through a teardown or a rebuild. They got their captain and No. 1 center, Jonathan Toews, back in the lineup after he missed all of the 2020-21 season, and then spent major money by adding defensemen Seth Jones, Caleb Jones, and Jake McCabe, forward Tyler Johnson, and most significantly of all, reigning Vezina Trophy goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
This is a team trying to win, making the results even more staggering.
Not only has Chicago managed just four out of a possible 24 points in the standings so far, the manner in which it has gotten there has been especially concerning. The Blackhawks never seem ready to play, giving up an early goal on an almost nightly basis and almost never playing with the lead. They have given up the first goal within the first six minutes of a game six times this season, including three times within the first minute. They have trailed by at least two goals within the first six minutes on three different occasions.
All of that is just too much for the team to overcome.