The NHL has been overrun by speed and skill, and the Blackhawks are in the midst of a youth takeover.
Now the franchise boasts an entire coaching staff under 40.
Tomas Mitell, 38, was hired Thursday as an assistant under Jeremy Colliton, 34, joining Sheldon Brookbank, who’s also 38.
“We are [training] a whole new generation of hockey players, and I think they are a little bit different, in a good way,” Mitell told the Sun-Times. “It’s going to be exciting.”
Mitell and Colliton coached together in Sweden in 2016-17, guiding Mora to a league-best record in the Swedish second division. Mitell said they had “good chemistry with the team and off the ice.”
Colliton came to Rockford the next season, while Mitell became the coach at AIK, which he led to third- and first-place finishes in the 14-team league the last two years.
But they kept in touch, and after the Hawks parted ways with former assistant Don Granato (who, of note, is 51) last month, more serious talks began.
“We’ve been sharing ideas and things like that, so I think we have kind of the same idea about how we want to play the game and also leadership-wise,” Mitell said. “We’ve been talking a little bit back and forth, and he asked me if I would be interested [in this job], and, of course, it’s a great opportunity and a good challenge.”
It was a very Swedish Thursday for the Hawks, who officially signed winger Anton Wedin, a 26-year-old Swedish-league veteran, earlier in the day.
Wedin’s addition gives the team seven Swedes on NHL contracts — including Erik Gustafsson, Carl Dahlstrom and Gustav Forsling — with the chance to up that number to eight if Marcus Kruger is re-signed.
Now the Hawks’ Swedes have a countryman to work with.
Mitell said he and Colliton haven’t determined exactly what his role and responsibilities will be, though they already have an idea.
His overall coaching philosophy, however, isn’t likely to change.
“I try to help [players] with what they need as individuals to get better, and it’s not the same for everyone,” he said.
“Of course, on the ice, the team obviously needs to be on the same page, but how they develop as individuals will be different for each player.”