Blackhawks: This season will be Jeremy Colliton’s biggest test

Jeremy Colliton, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Jeremy Colliton, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks roster seems to be set, and now that it is time to sit back and wait for the start of the NHL season, one thing is on my mind. This is Jeremy Colliton’s biggest test yet with the team.

When the Chicago Blackhawks acquired Colliton, they were rebuilding. Now that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Seth Jones, Jonathan Toews, Caleb Jones, Jake McCabe, and Tyler Johnson – these are all additions to the team that did not play with Chicago last season. I included Toews because he didn’t play last season, and adding him back would be like adding a top-line center that the team desperately needs. 

There are no excuses this season. The goaltending is better with the Vezina Trophy winner on board in the Windy City. The defense looks better than it has ever been before. And the offense has Tyler Johnson as the presumed third-line center. So while I do not think Chicago is ready to say they are a Stanley Cup or bust team, I do think they believe they will be in the postseason this coming year.

So that has to be the expectation. Make the playoffs, and compete. If they get bounced in four or five games, that won’t look good, and if they win a round or two, that would be even better. Before Chicago won in 2010, they went all the way to the conference final in 2009. Winning a round in the postseason should be a goal for the team.

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But what if they don’t reach that mark with this roster? What if this is another year of sitting near the bottom in the division and failing to win games that are necessary for the team’s success? If this is another year outside of the playoffs, even with all these additions who is to blame?

One would have to imagine it would be the coach in the hot seat should the team miss the postseason again. We will have to wait and see how the team performs to start the season, but I think the expectation has to be that this is a playoff roster. All the pieces are in place, and it is the coach’s responsibility to get it going now.

Chicago has not won a playoff series since the 2015 Stanley Cup. With Chicago, Colliton is 86-83-24, not the best numbers in the entire league. His teams have finished sixth, seventh, and sixth in their division, going back the past three seasons.

I hope the Blackhawks go out this season and find their way into the postseason, and I hope Colliton finds a way to make his system work with the group. The team needs to be better defensively; otherwise, they probably won’t be in the playoffs again, and Colliton will probably be out of a job.

"Did the Blackhawks’ moves make them a contender?"

Do you think the pressure is on the coach this season to win at all costs? With the way the roster is set up, it is hard to imagine the team doesn’t expect to be in the postseason, especially after trading away the 2022 first-round pick.