On the eve of his third season as the team’s head coach, the Blackhawks and coach Jeremy Colliton agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension that keeps Colliton in charge until the end of the 2022-23 season, according to a team statement released early Tuesday morning.
The 35-year-old Colliton, who turns 36 on Wednesday, took over for former coach Joel Quenneville on Nov. 6, 2018 after coaching the team’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. After one full season and one pandemic-shortened season, Colliton’s record stands at 62-58-17.
Colliton was behind the bench for the Blackhawks win in the qualifying round series over the Edmonton Oilers last summer before the team was eliminated in five games by the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Here’s a statement from Stan Bowman that was released by the team:
“Jeremy has shown an innate ability to develop young talent throughout his two seasons as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks,” said Stan Bowman, President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. “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.”
And here are comments from Colliton that were also released by the team:
”I’m thankful to the Wirtz Family and Stan Bowman for their continued support during my time with the organization,” said Jeremy Colliton, Chicago Blackhawks Head Coach. “As we continue to build on the foundation we have here with this team, we will remain committed to working with our players to put them in the best positions to succeed. I look forward to the challenge of developing a team our fans will be proud of and leading the Chicago Blackhawks back to a championship level.”
More comments from Colliton are available in this article at The Athletic.
While meeting with the media on Tuesday morning, Bowman offered additional insight into why the Blackhawks elected to negotiate this contract extension with Colliton:
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said Jeremy Colliton's work with Kirby Dach was a factor in extending Colliton. Now he wants to see Colliton do the same with Alex DeBrincat. "I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Alex. I think he's going to evolve his game."— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) January 12, 2021
And that’s probably the most crucial task for Colliton and the Blackhawks going forward. With a roster depleted by injuries and a focus on younger players for the 2021 NHL season, the development of Chicago’s more inexperienced players will be crucial to the long-term outlook for the team and for Colliton. If there’s progress, then this move won’t be criticized in hindsight. But if the Blackhawks next wave of talent doesn’t find its collective footing at the NHL level, there will be plenty of questions as to why Bowman and the rest of the front office deemed Colliton as the person to navigate the team through this transitional period.