Hockey

Should the Blackhawks Fire Jeremy Colliton?

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Is it time for the Chicago Blackhawks to move on from Jeremy Colliton? If you asked the fans on Tuesday night when he was booed out of the United Center, the answer would be yes. The question is, will Stan Bowman, who has pushed hard for Colliton, pull the trigger and find a new head coach?

Looking at the talent on the Blackhawks’ roster, how are they zero three and one? Disregard their record for a second, they’ve scored just one goal in the first period. This season, Chicago has been outscored 17 to seven by their opponents. Look at their roster, they have the 2020-21 Vezina Trophy Winner in net, that shouldn’t be happening. Let alone that, they were supposed to have improved on defense, not regressed.

Something has to change and these things fall on the head coach. There isn’t enough urgency from this team. Head coach Jeremy Colliton has not lost the locker room and has been backed by his star players. Patrick Kane, for example, has gone out and publically supported his head coach.

“We’ll find a way to turn it around,” Kane referring to the slow start against the Penguins, “I have a lot of confidence in the team we have and the coaching staff.”

Does the confidence dwindle with each loss? Now, at zero three and one, and being embarrassed on home ice, is this the right time to switch coaches?

Will Stan Bowman fire Jeremy Colliton?

Stan Bowman firing Jeremy Colliton could reflect poorly on himself, as he re-signed Colliton to a two-year extension during the offseason. That contract runs through the 2022-23 NHL season. It would take Bowman admitting to himself and the hockey world that he was wrong.

Colliton has been the head coach of the Blackhawks since November of 2018 when he replaced Joel Quenneville. This decision has been somewhat successful, but mostly it’s been false hope. In 2018-19, the team went down to the last few weeks of the season, only to miss the playoffs by a few points. In 2019-20, they made the playoffs because of COVID-19. If that shutdown didn’t happen and the playoffs weren’t expanded, it would be three straight years of no playoffs for the Blackhawks.

In 2020-21, the Blackhawks started off slow and finished slow. They had some moments during the middle of the season where they might have had a chance to be a playoff team, but they squandered that chance late in the year. That’s the story of Colliton’s coaching career in Chicago – missed opportunities.

Who could replace Jeremy Colliton?

If Jeremy Colliton were to be fired, who would replace him? Marc Crawford would likely be the favorite to take Colliton’s job if they hired within the organization. Crawford has the most complete resume of any of the coaches on the team. Hiring inside the team doesn’t fully change the voice though. The players are used to Crawford, it’s not a new voice.

If they went outside of the organization, there are a few key names out there. John Tortorella is an option for the Blackhawks. He’s a veteran coach who has won a Stanley Cup. Tortorella has a different style and different voice that would add to the locker room. He could be the guy to spark this team into playoff form.

Other options include Claude Julien, Bruce Boudreau, or Rick Tocchet.

If the Blackhawks hire outside the organization, they have to go with a veteran coach. This team is getting close to winning now and the Kane/Toews era is closing in. Additionally, they won’t have Marc-Andre Fleury for long. He is likely in Chicago for just the 2021-22 NHL season. They have to make a switch sooner before another season is lost.

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Ryan Fedrau has been a Chicago Sportswriter for over two years, now covering the Chicago Blackhawks for Overtime Heroics.