It finally happened.
After an abysmal 1-9-2 start to the season, the Chicago Blackhawks fired head coach Jeremy Colliton and a pair of assistant coaches on Saturday afternoon. Derek King, who was the head coach of the Rockford IceHogs — the Blackhawks AHL affiliate — has been named Chicago’s interim head coach.
Saturday was the three-year anniversary of Colliton being named Chicago’s head coach after taking over for Joel Quenneville during the early stages of the 2018-19 season.
The Blackhawks have relieved Jeremy Colliton, Tomas Mitell and Sheldon Brookbank of their coaching duties and have named Derek King Interim Head Coach, effective immediately. https://t.co/2PggeNtIY4— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) November 6, 2021
A statement posted at the team website included comments from CEO Danny Wirtz:
“It has been an extremely difficult couple of weeks for our organization, and we have had to come to terms with a number of necessary changes. As we look to move forward, we know we must earn back the trust of our fans, and we are grateful for the support of our entire community as we work to do just that. On the ice, Interim General Manager Kyle Davidson has our full confidence and autonomy to make hockey decisions, and we support him on this coaching change. We appreciate all that Jeremy has brought to the Blackhawks, and we look forward to working with Derek as our interim head coach while we work to rebuild our permanent hockey operations leadership.”
More words from interim general manager Kyle Davidson:
“Our on-ice goal remains the same: to build an elite system of hockey - and we have not delivered on that. The fact is our play and competitiveness must improve. Every game, every shift. Today’s coaching changes are difficult, especially given the incredible personal connections Jeremy and others have made with our players in their development. We appreciate Jeremy’s contributions to the organization over the last three seasons, and we wish him and his family the best.
We appreciate Derek’s willingness to step in behind the bench as we embark on our search for our next permanent head coach. His NHL experience as a player and work with our younger players in Rockford over the last four years gives us great confidence in his ability to lead the Chicago Blackhawks in this interim role.”
And a brief statement from the new coach:
“This team has a lot of talent-talent that I am familiar with from my time in the organization-and I look forward to working with them behind the bench. I appreciate the support from Kyle Davidson and Danny Wirtz through this process and I cannot wait to get going. I understand my role and position and ready to do the work necessary to help the organization succeed.”
Colliton’s tenure ends after 205 games with an 87-92-26 record, which includes a 4-5 postseason record — all during the 2020 postseason. But the dreadful start to the ‘21-22 season proved to be his downfall.
While two assistant coaches were removed, Marc Crawford, Jimmy Waite, Matt Meacham and Dylan Crawford will remain on staff in their current positions and former Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz also stays with the team as the player development advisor. Anders Sorensen takes over behind the bench in Rockford, which plays at home against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday night.
The 54-year-old King had been Rockford’s head coach since taking over once Colliton head to Chicago. also spent several years with the Toronto Marlies — the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate. Although he’s never been an NHL head coach before, King did play 14 seasons with three different teams, tallying 612 points (261 G, 351 A) in 830 games.