Hawks hire Jeremy Colliton to replace Ted Dent as Rockford coach

If Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was looking to hire a coach in Rockford he will see eye-to-eye with, it looks like he found him in 32-year-old Jeremy Colliton.

“I embrace the idea that the first priority in Rockford is to help the young players develop so they can contribute and help the Blackhawks win … and hopefully win Stanley Cups,” said Colliton, who was hired Thursday to replace Ted Dent as coach of the IceHogs, the Hawks’ AHL affiliate. “That’s the
No. 1 job, as it should be [for] the head coach in Rockford.

“But that doesn’t prohibit you from having a winning team. I also think that’s important — teaching these guys how to win and what it takes to be a guy that [is] trusted to be on the ice in important situations.”

Considering Bowman’s anger after the Hawks’ sudden first-round series loss to the Predators, it probably wasn’t a big surprise that he went outside the box to hire Colliton.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said new Rockford IceHogs coach Jeremy Colliton fits very well into our plan of continuing to develop our younger players." | Jonatan Svedgard/DT

The Blackie, Alberta, native has been coaching for just four seasons — all with Mora IK in Sweden —  after his professional career ended with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL in 2012.

A second-round draft pick of the Islanders in 2003 — selected six picks after the Hawks took goalie Corey Crawford — Colliton played 57 games in five seasons with New York.

Mora IK was 98-18-57 in four seasons under Colliton, including 35-4-13 last season, when Mora IK earned a promotion to the Swedish Hockey League after beating Leksands IF in six games in a playoff series.

“Jeremy’s experience as a player and a coach will allow him to be a great leader and mentor for our young prospects in Rockford,” Bowman said in a statement. “He is coming off a great start to his coaching career with four successful seasons in Sweden and fits very well into our plan of continuing to develop our younger players.”

Bowman knows that with an aging core, player development will be key for the Hawks to remain Stanley Cup contenders.

“I think I can offer something there and put those young guys in good situations to continue to improve and help the Blackhawks win,” Colliton said. “Honesty and clarity is something I really pride myself on, and it’s important to build the relationship with players so that they believe you’re -doing everything you can
to help them get better. If they believe that, it’s a lot easier to help them take those next steps. I think that’s my strength.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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