Monday afternoon Jeremy Colliton was focused on making the Rockford IceHogs better and he was focused on their next game Wednesday morning against Iowa. 24 hours later he was in Chicago being introduced as the new head coach of the Blackhawks.
"It's an honor to join the Blackhawks' an original six franchise, a fantastic city, a tradition of success," said Colliton.
A sluggish start to this season by the Blackhawks on the heels of missing out on the playoffs last season signaled to the front office that it was time for a change, so Joel Quenneville was fired.
"We need to get better. We need to get better and we are all accountable," said Blackhawks' President John McDonough.
"We do need to turn the page and we need to move forward. I'm excited with the direction we're headed," said Blackhawks' General Manager Stan Bowman.
At 33 years old Colliton is the youngest head coach in the National Hockey League. He's even younger than four players on this Blackhawks' roster including the two goaltenders Cam Ward and Corey Crawford, but Colliton doesn't see his age being much of a hurdle and if it is for some players he expects to win them over in time.
"I have to earn their trust by them believing that I can help them win," says Colliton. "That I can help them be better individually. That we as a staff can put together a plan so they can have success."
Colliton spent only one full season in Rockford but the job he did guiding the team to the AHL's Western Conference finals last spring convinced the Blackhawks that he is NHL coaching material.
"Being around Jeremy watching the way his teams play and watching the way that he handles the team and his strengths as a coach are things which I think are going to help our group get to the next level," said Bowman.
"I have a huge amount of respect for Joel (Quenneville)," said Colliton. "Those are huge shoes to fill. I won't try to fill them. I've got to be myself."
McDonough made it clear that the Blackhawks are still trying to win now despite exchanging a veteran coach with three Cup Championships for a very young coach.
"I wouldn't label it as a rebuilding. I've referenced that we're still remodeling," said McDonough. "We still have Hall Of Fame players. My expectations are that this is a playoff team."
"The challenge is to hit the ground running," said Colliton. "I want every guy in the room to play for the team."
Colliton's first game as the Blackhawks' coach will be Thursday night when they host Carolina.
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