CHICAGO (CBS) — Joel Quenneville led the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup championships, and is the second winningest coach in NHL history, but even those accomplishments couldn’t save him after three disappointing seasons in a row, and a frustrating start in 2018, following five consecutive losses.
The Blackhawks fired Quenneville on Tuesday, amid a 6-6-3 start, and have promoted Rockford IceHogs head coach Jeremy Colliton to take over behind the bench.
“When Joel was originally hired into our 2008 season, we had great hope for his potential to take the team to new levels. He went beyond what anyone expected. As difficult as that decision in 2008 was, this one was tougher. But as we look to a future history not yet defined, we believe the change we made today, will provide the Chicago Blackhawks a critical element in achieving our goals of Championships in the future, including this season,” Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. “Nothing will ever take away the success he brought our franchise, our fans and my family. Joel will forever be etched into the most memorable era in Chicago Blackhawk hockey. And for that, we will always be connected and always eternally grateful.”
Quenneville was hired as head coach early in the 2008-09 season, and the team won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015 with him at the helm. He was 452-249-96 during the regular season, and Chicago made the playoffs in nine of his 10 full seasons on the bench.
However, the team had not made it past the first round of the playoffs since their last title in 2015, and missed the playoffs last year for the first time in a decade. With the five consecutive losses, the team has fallen to 6th place in the Central Division.
In addition to firing Quenneville, the Blackhawks also parted ways with assistant coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson. The team’s other assistant coaches will remain on staff, and director of player evaluation Barry Smith has been named as an assistant on Colliton’s staff.
Colliton has been head coach of the IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, since May 2017. At 33 years old, he becomes the youngest head coach in the NHL.
In his first season with Rockford, Colliton led the IceHogs to a 40-28-4-4 record last year, and took them to the Western Conference finals in the Calder Cup playoffs, after sweeping the Chicago Wolves and the Manitoba Moose in the first two rounds. The IceHogs lost the Western Conference Finals to the Texas Stars, 4 games to 2.
Colliton coached four seasons in Sweden before he was hired to coach the IceHogs. He also played parts of eight seasons in the NHL and AHL, playing in 57 games for the New York Islanders.
STATEMENTS FROM BLACKHAWKS MANAGEMENT:
Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz
“The Chicago Blackhawks front office has made a decision to release Joel Quenneville from his head coaching duties, doing so with my full support. As Chicago Blackhawks fans have seen over the last decade, this organization no longer shies away from making tough decisions or ones based on emotion. Those days are long behind us. Of course, Joel’s was difficult, as it should have been. During his tenure as head coach to the Chicago Blackhawks, Joel brought the city of Chicago and our fans three Stanley Cups and an incredible era of hockey.
When Joel was originally hired into our 2008 season, we had great hope for his potential to take the team to new levels. He went beyond what anyone expected. As difficult as that decision in 2008 was, this one was tougher. But as we look to a future history not yet defined, we believe the change we made today, will provide the Chicago Blackhawks a critical element in achieving our goals of Championships in the future, including this season.
I wish Joel and his family well and thank him for his incredible leadership and results. Nothing will ever take away the success he brought our franchise, our fans and my family. Joel will forever be etched into the most memorable era in Chicago Blackhawk hockey. And for that, we will always be connected and always eternally grateful.”
Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough
“This was an extremely difficult decision, given our respect for Joel and all that he has brought to the Chicago Blackhawks organization the last 10 years. His leadership during three Stanley Cup championships speaks for itself and there is no way to adequately express what he has meant to this organization. He will always be a significant member of the Blackhawks family. We have a deep appreciation for how he helped establish our standard and the Blackhawks culture and certainly wish he, Kevin and Ulf only the best in their future.”
Blackhawks Senior Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman
“This is certainly a very difficult decision. But I believe it is in the best interests of the Blackhawks organization. We need to maximize each and every opportunity with our playoff goals in mind and create continued growth and development throughout our roster at the same time. After much deliberation the last several days, with great respect to what Joel has meant to the Blackhawks, we knew we had to make a change. Along with our appreciation for everything Joel has accomplished for our franchise, we also thank Kevin and Ulf for their many contributions and wish them success in the future.
We are extremely fortunate to have Jeremy Colliton in the Blackhawks organization and feel strongly that he is best positioned to continue leading our players here in Chicago. All of those associated with Jeremy strongly believe he possesses many of the tools that will make him a successful head coach in this league. He has been very impressive as a communicator, a leader, and coach. He knows the Blackhawks system, understands our players and our culture and we believe he gives us the best opportunity to have success and grow as a team.”