The Chicago Blackhawks signed head coach Jeremy Colliton to a two-year contract extension on Tuesday morning. Colliton, 35, was set to have his original contract expire at the end of this season but is now signed through 2022-23.
OFFICIAL: We're excited to announce a two-year contract extension for Head Coach Jeremy Colliton.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 12, 2021
“I’m grateful for the belief and the confidence that the Blackhawks and the Wirtz family and Stan [Bowman] and management are showing that we’re on the right path and they believe in what we’re doing,” Colliton said. “I’m excited about the challenge that we have. I think we’ve started the process and we’re moving in the right direction and just excited to be working at building something.”
“Ultimately, it’s all about winning. We want to be an elite team, we want to be a Top-10 team year after year, so, to me, it’s just exciting I have the support to continue trying to build that up.”
Blackhawks general manager and president of hockey ops Stan Bowman spoke highly of Colliton in his statement on Tuesday morning as well.
“Jeremy has shown an innate ability to develop young talent throughout his two seasons as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks,” Bowman said. “This, coupled with his vast knowledge of the game, exceptional communication skills, and determination to win, makes us extremely confident Jeremy has what it takes to lead our team back to an elite level as we continue to build a roster that can compete year in and year out.”
Before becoming a coach, Colliton was a second-round pick (No. 58 overall) of the New York Islanders and spent five seasons playing in the NHL. In 57 career games, Colliton recorded six points (three goals, three assists) and was known as a sound two-way player before being forced to retire due to concussions.
On November 6, 2018, the Blackhawks controversially fired Joel Quenneville, the second-winningest coach in NHL history, and named the 33-year-old Colliton as his successor. Quenneville went 452-249-96 in 11-plus seasons behind the Blackhawks’ bench, leading the team to three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015.
At the time of his hiring, Colliton was the youngest coach in the league. Fast forward two and a half years, and he is now the 14th-longest-tenured NHL coach.
Before replacing Quenneville, Colliton coached the Rockford IceHogs for one season, guiding the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate to a 40-28-4-4 record and their first-ever trip to the Western Conference Final. Colliton was hired by Rockford in 2017 after piloting Mora IK to a club promotion to the Swedish Hockey League.
In Colliton’s first full season with Chicago, the Blackhawks finished 32-30-8 and qualified as the 12th and final Western Conference playoff team. The Blackhawks defeated the No. 5 Edmonton Oilers in the best-of-five play-in series but went on to lose in the next round to the top-seeded Vegas Golden Knights in five games.
Colliton currently has a 62-58-17 regular-season coaching record with the Blackhawks and is 4-5 in nine postseason contests.
Good or Bad Call By The Blackhawks?
With Colliton still being under contract for another full season on his original deal, the Blackhawks may have jumped the gun a bit with the extension. After all, the team does not appear to be any closer to reopening their championship window, and the future of the organization remains a mystery.
However, Colliton’s first two years with the Blackhawks have been tough to judge. From replacing ‘Coach Q’ in the middle of the 2018-19 season, to the COVID-19 shortened campaign in 2019-20, there has not been a whole lot of consistency during his tenure. Even in 2021, the schedule has been modified to 56 games, and teams will face only divisional opponents in the regular season. Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach, and Alex Nylander also are out of the lineup indefinitely, which will make it difficult to gather how well Colliton fared once again.
As for whether this was a good or bad call by the Blackhawks, only time will tell. Clearly, Bowman and the Blackhawks front office have faith in Colliton to lead the Hawks back to the promised land. But as Colliton stated in his statement on Tuesday: “Ultimately, it’s all about winning.”