Does Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton have ‘it’ or not? We’d pretend to know, but …

The two-plus years since Joel Quenneville was kicked to the curb have been more of an organizational blur than anything else. It’s hard to judge Colliton’s performance in that context.

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Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he’s got.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he’s got.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s impossible to know what thoughts and questions must have been rattling around inside Jeremy Colliton’s head on the November 2018 day when he was announced as Blackhawks coach.

“Is this really happening?”

“What planet am I on?”

“Can we pretend I’m replacing anybody other than Joel Quenneville?”

Those are only guesses. As for what the rest of us were thinking, “Jeremy who?” pretty well sums it up.

He was 33, suddenly the youngest coach in the NHL. Now, he’s a week shy of 36 and still the youngest in the league at his position. But this isn’t really about age and never was. Quenneville, one of the all-time greats, was in his 30s when he took over the Blues way back when. Some guy named Scotty Bowman once was a first-timer in his 30s, too.

No, this is about having “it” or not.

Some of us know “it” when we see it. Others wouldn’t recognize “it” if it sashayed into our living room and kissed us on the mouth. But does Colliton have “it”?

You might think you know the answer by now, as the understated Western Canadian prepares to enter his second full season and third overall.

I won’t pretend to be that smart or perceptive. From where I — and, I suspect, a lot of us — sit, the two-plus years since Quenneville was kicked to the curb have been more of an organizational blur than anything else. It’s hard to judge Colliton’s performance in that context.

“Expect the unexpected — that would’ve been good advice for me in my situation, first of all getting the opportunity but then everything that has gone with it over the last couple of years,” Colliton said Tuesday.

Colliton inherited a core of stars and team leaders who’d won Stanley Cups and had been deeply loyal to Quenneville, so the early weeks together were complicated off the ice and miserable on it. That was probably to be expected. A pandemic wasn’t. Major front-office changes weren’t. The current absences of Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach weren’t.

And all of it against the backdrop of a disorderly “remodel” that wasn’t officially acknowledged as a rebuild by Colliton’s bosses until this past October?

See: the aforementioned blur.

“I think that’s part of the job [to be] steady-as-she-goes and even-keeled,” he said. “Just try to react the best you can to any given situation. Ultimately, the job is to help these guys play at their highest level and, as many of them as possible, help the team win. So that’s what you always come back to. Any adversity or things that come up, that will [help] me develop into a better coach.”

But will Colliton — in the final year of his contract — get the chance to do that here?

When Colliton was hired, then-president John McDonough said he’d be given “everything he needs to succeed.” McDonough is gone now. The whole “everything” thing clearly hasn’t happened yet.

Hawks fans booed during Colliton’s first game at the United Center, but that was all about having Quenneville’s back and showing him love.

How do they feel about Colliton now? Unimpressed? Unsold? Hopeful?

I’m still staring into the blur and looking for “it.” Could be it’s just not there.

Just sayin’

Two guys who were around Colliton’s age when they won their first championships as head coaches: Mike Tomlin with the Steelers and — I had to read this a few times to believe it — Pat Riley with the Lakers.

In other barely relevant trivia news: Tony La Russa was 34 the first time the White Sox made him manager, in 1979. “Tony who?” everyone surely asked then. Maybe Colliton will put together a Hall of Fame career and come back for Round 2 with the Hawks in, oh, how does 2060 sound?

• My top-three Heisman Trophy votes this season went to, in order, Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith, Florida quarterback Kyle Trask and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. I’d have told you this sooner — as in, before Smith won the award going away Tuesday, but the Heisman people get their jockstraps in a bunch when voters spill the beans early.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Nobody wears a jockstrap anymore.

• The other college football individual honors for which I voted will be part of ESPN awards show Thursday. Here goes:

Davey O’Brien (top QB): (1) Trask, (2) Jones, (3) Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.

Doak Walker (running back): (1) Alabama’s Najee Harris, (2) Iowa State’s Breece Hall, (3) Clemson’s Travis Etienne.

Biletnikoff (receiver): (1) Smith, (2) Mississippi’s Elijah Moore, (3) Florida’s Kyle Pitts.

Thorpe (defensive back): (1) Alabama’s Patrick Surtain, (2) TCU’s Trevon Moehrig, (3) UCF’s Richie Grant.

• Some quarterbacks have the preternatural-confidence gene. Others are too afraid to push the ball downfield in a big game because they don’t want to screw up. Who can guess which of those Mitch Trubisky was against the Packers in the regular-season finale?

Have to figure the same Trubisky will show up Sunday against the Saints in New Orleans. Saints 34, Bears 17.

And print it.

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