Col­li­ton takes over af­ter Blackhawks fire Quen­neville

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Sports - By Jay Co­hen

CHICAGO (AP) >> Jeremy Col­li­ton knows all about Joel Quen­neville’s le­gacy with the Chicago Blackhawks.

He thinks he knows what to do, too.

“I have a huge amount of re­spect for Joel,” Col­li­ton said. “Those are huge shoes to fill. I won’t try to fill them. I’ve got to be my­self. And we’re dif­fer­ent peo­ple, so I’ll bring dif­fer­ent things to the ta­ble, dif­fer­ent ideas to the ta­ble.”

Chicago is hop­ing Col­li­ton’s fresh per­spec­tive will help the team get back on track af­ter he be­came the 38th head coach in fran­chise his­tory on Tues­day, tak­ing over when Quen­neville was fired af­ter a wildly suc­cess­ful run with the Blackhawks.

Col­li­ton goes from Chicago’s Amer­i­can Hockey League af­fil­i­ate in Rock­ford, Illi­nois, to the NHL’s youngest head coach at 33. Blackhawks for­ward Chris Ku­nitz, de­fense­man Dun­can Keith and goal­tenders Corey Craw­ford and Cam Ward are older than Col­li­ton, and de­fense­man Brent Seabrook also is 33.

“I have to earn their trust by them be­liev­ing that I can help them win, that I can help them be bet­ter in­di­vid­u­ally, that we as a staff can put to­gether a plan so they can have suc­cess,” Col­li­ton said. “So if I can do that, there’s no prob­lem. It doesn’t mat­ter how old I am.”

Col­li­ton and Seabrook played along­side each other when they were kids. Col­li­ton also made 57 ap­pear- an­ces with the New York Is­lan­ders over five sea­sons, play­ing in his fi­nal NHL game in 2011.

“Grow­ing up, we sort of fol­lowed the same ca­reer path as kids,” Seabrook said, “played in the West­ern League against each other, played in the World Ju­niors to­gether. When we were play­ing he had the same agent. A lot of con­nec­tions there.

“So it was nice to see him come back to North Amer­ica last year and get the job in Rock­ford. Sounds like he did some good things in Europe and with Rock­ford last year.”

But that’s a far cry from the sit­u­a­tion he faces now, re­plac­ing Quen­neville af­ter he coached Chicago to three Stan­ley Cup ti­tles and nine play­off ap­pear­ances.

The move comes in the wake of a win­less three­game trip, ex­tend­ing Chicago’s los­ing streak to five in a row head­ing into Thurs­day’s home game against Carolina. The power play, a per­sis­tent prob­lem, ranked 27th in the NHL head­ing into Tues­day. The Blackhawks (6-6-3) also are al­low­ing an un­seemly 3.73 goals per game.

“A de­ci­sion like this isn’t made on one game, one play, or one spe­cific thing,” gen­eral man­ager Stan Bow­man said. “It’s sort of a col­lec­tion of things. Cer­tainly the road trip was con­cern­ing. But I think even head­ing into that, there were some el­e­ments to our game where they weren’t where they needed to be.”

As­sis­tants Kevin Di­neen and Ulf Sa­muels­son also were let go. Barry Smith, 66, moved from Chicago’s front of­fice to the bench as an as­sis­tant coach.

The 60-year-old Quen­neville was the long­est-tenured head coach in the NHL. He had an­other year left on a three-year con­tract ex­ten­sion he signed in 2016 that pays him $6 mil­lion per year, sec­ond high­est in the NHL be­hind Mike Bab­cock in Toronto.

When­ever Quen­neville wants to get back to work, he likely will have plenty of suit­ors.

The for­mer NHL de­fense­man has 890 wins in 22 years as a head coach with St. Louis, Colorado and Chicago. Scotty Bow­man, Stan’s fa­ther and a se­nior ad­viser with the Blackhawks, is the only man with more reg­u­lar-sea­son vic­to­ries.

Quen­neville took over Chicago four games into the

KAMIL KRZA­CZYN­SKI - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Chicago Blackhawks new head coach Jeremy Col­li­ton speaks dur­ing an NHL hockey press con­fer­ence Tues­day, Nov. 6, 2018, in Chicago. Col­li­ton re­places Joel Quen­neville who was fired on Tues­day.

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