Blackhawks: The Jeremy Colliton Experiment Needs to End
By Kevin Braeunle
Albeit a surprising and fun playoff appearance from the Blackhawks, the lack of quality coaching is still evident and it is time to put an end to the Jeremy Colliton experiment.
It seems there are individuals in the hockey community that believe Jeremy Colliton can and will be successful as an NHL coach. He is still only 35 years old and has plenty of time to learn throughout his coaching career; however, he is not ready to lead this Chicago Blackhawks team where it needs to be right now.
So far in his coaching career, Jeremy Colliton is 62-58-17 in 137 games behind the bench for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks mediocre play and inconsistency aligns with their points percentage of 515.%, barely over .500%. In his first season, the Blackhawks finished sixth in the central division, followed by a last-place finish this season.
I will have to give Colliton and the team credit for their play in this year’s postseason upsetting the heavily favored Oilers in four games. With that being said, we cannot let the short postseason sprint distract us from the poor regular-season outings. While the Blackhawks’ lack of success in the regular season is no secret, I am going to focus on some things from this postseason that justify Colliton’s firing.
Firstly, in both games three and five, the Blackhawks trailed by a goal late in the game. In both instances, the Blackhawks had offensive zone faceoffs within the waning 2-3 minutes of the game. Again, in both instances, Colliton fails to call a timeout. Why not draw up a play? Or prepare for a face-off loss. Get a chance to talk to your top guys, regroup and tie the game.
Maybe Colliton had confidence in his guys? I would say 9-out-of-10 coaches are calling a timeout in these situations. On top of that, Colliton, in Game four had Dylan Strome out for the draw instead of Jonathan Toews. Not only was Toews not out for the draw, but he also was not on the ice at all. There is no excuse for this as we know Toews was not injured. USE A TIMEOUT and Toews back out there.
I think a lot of fans have lashed out on Twitter about Colliton’s reluctancy to sit Alex Nylander. Despite his lack of heart and inability to produce, Colliton kept Nylander in the top nine for most of the postseason. By the time he was scratched it was too late. But let’s not forget who Nylander was scratched for; John Quenneville.
There are a lot of fans who would have liked to see Philipp Kurashev, MacKenzie Entwistle, or Dylan Sikura. Nevertheless, that is not the main issue. Its what Colliton did with Quenneville. At no point should an NHL bubble player such as Quenneville be on the ice in a one-goal must-win game with under 3 minutes left. Yet, Quenneville was out there in the final minutes. Why? At this point, the bench should be shortened significantly with a priority on the top guys and double shifting Kane.
Unlike the all-time great Joel Quenneville, Colliton is not the best with tinkering lines. Usually, it starts with a surprising change that is evident at pregame skate or warmups. For instance, in their must-win game, Brandon Saad is off the top line and demoted to the third line. While that makes for a nice third line, it doesn’t bode well for the top line. Low and behold Saad would find himself out there with Toews and Dominik Kubalik which yielded a goal for Chicago 10 minutes in. Earlier in the series, the Blackhawks’ best line was easily Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat, and Patrick Kane. I remember watching that line buzzing, yet next thing I know they were separated. Although the Dylan Strome – DeBrincat chemistry began to develop it was too late for any change. Furthermore, Colliton never seems to get the most of his guys. Rarely does he use the “line blender” when the Blackhawks are failing to get anything going; yet when he does it falls shy of working out.
It is also worth mentioning that Chicago scored only one playoff goal throughout the entirety of the series. From what I could glean, the Blackhawks made very little changes to get more from the man-advantage. Of course, the powerplay did develop some solid chances, but chances alone will not win you games or series. Failure to make changes again falls on Colliton.
One of the most invigorating things I find with Colliton is his lack of emotion on the bench. He much too often appears very nonchalant. While a calm demeanor is a good thing, I don’t see him sticking up for his players as much as I’d like. Bad calls also fail to draw much emotion from him.
Generally, coaches require a bit of time to prove themselves yet I think the time is up for Colliton. Of course, Colliton is not to blame for everything. After all, its Stan’s roster, and a lot of weight falls on his shoulders but that is for another article. Unfortunately, I believe Stan and Jeremy are somewhat of a package until things really take a drastic turn as it appears Stan isn’t going anywhere.
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