Tuesday marked a new era for the Blackhawks.
Before practice, the Hawks announced a coaching staff overhaul, which included the firing of coach Joel Quenneville and his assistant coaches, Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson.
Rockford IceHogs coach Jeremy Colliton replaced Quenneville as the 38th head coach in Hawks’ history.
The Hawks also named Barry Smith, who most recently served as the director of player evaluation for the Hawks, as an assistant coach on Colliton’s staff. The rest of the coaching staff is expected to stay with the team.
- A winner and class act, Joel Quenneville deserved better than what he got
- Blackhawks players feel partially responsible for Joel Quenneville’s firing
There’s no doubt that Quenneville, who has a Hall of Fame resume, is one of the most successful coaches in the history of both the Hawks franchise and NHL. His three Stanley Cups in six seasons speak for themselves. But after missing the playoffs last season, which was Quenneville’s first losing campaign in his 21-year coaching career, and a slow 6-6-3 start through 15 games this season, something had to give.
General manager Stan Bowman said the decision to part with Quenneville, the second-winningest coach in franchise history (452-249-96 in 797 games since 2008), was “very difficult.” He also clarified that Quenneville’s firing wasn’t based on one specific incident, although the Hawks’ most recent road trip was “concerning.”
Bowman also shut down the idea that there was a power struggle between him and Quenneville.
“No truth to that at all,” Bowman said of the rumored friction. “We have a very good relationship. Did we agree on everything over the last years? No we didn’t.”
Chairman Rocky Wirtz echoed Bowman and said that he believes this was the best decision for the franchise moving forward.
“As Chicago Blackhawks fans have seen over the last decade, this organization no longer shies away from making tough decisions or ones based on emotion,” Wirtz said in a statement. “Those days are long behind us.
“When Joel was originally hired into our 2008 season, we had great hope for his potential to take the team to new levels. He went beyond what anyone expected. As difficult as that decision in 2008 was, this one was tougher. But as we look to a future history not yet defined, we believe the change we made today, will provide the Chicago Blackhawks a critical element in achieving our goals of Championships in the future, including this season.”
At 33, Colliton is currently the youngest head coach in the NHL. He was just 12 games into his second season with Rockford. Last season, he led Rockford, who went 40-28-4 last season, to its first-ever AHL Western Conference Finals.
“[Colliton is an] excellent communicator,” McDonough said. “That is one of the things that really, really sticks out.”
McDonough also said he’ll make sure the Colliton gets “everything he needs to succeed.”