The Blackhawks and assistant coach, Don Granato, have mutually agreed to part ways. This coaching change doesn’t come as a surprise, after two consecutive down seasons and a historically bad penalty kill this season.
Don Granato had previously worked with former Blackhawks head coach, Joel Quenneville, in St. Louis. Granato would take over as assistant coach in 2017, after the firing of Mike Kitchen, and it’s safe to say things didn’t work out. Whether this move was a Jeremy Colliton decision, an upper management decision, or both, it needed to happen. The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs the last two seasons and it was time to go in a new direction.
The Blackhawks’ rebuild now also includes the coaching staff. With Don Granato gone, Jeremy Colliton now has the opportunity to handpick another assistant coach — this has to be music to his ears. Colliton joined the Blackhawks on November 6th, 2018 and current assistant coach, Sheldon Brookbank, wasn’t far behind. Both were part of the Rockford IceHogs coaching staff prior to getting their promotions. This leads me to believe another current IceHogs coach could be a frontrunner for the Blackhawks coaching vacancy.
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The Rockford IceHogs’ current head coach, Derek King, is likely a strong candidate for the Blackhawks’ assistant coach position. King is familiar with the young players who have passed through Rockford and he knows Colliton’s system. Colliton, Brookbank, and King had great success together in Rockford last season, as they made it to the AHL Western Conference Finals in Colliton’s first year as an AHL head coach. Unfortunately, the IceHogs would lose that series.
The offseason hasn’t even officially started yet, but things have been extremely entertaining for the Blackhawks and their fans lately. There have been some surprising moves, including moving up to 3rd overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Kris Versteeg signing, and now, the removal of Don Granato as an assistant coach. I wonder what else StanBo & Co. have in store for us — hopefully more good things!