Jeremy Colliton

PHT Morning Skate: Gudas returns to Philly; living in McDavid’s shadow

1 Comment
Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Radko Gudas wants to make a grand return to Philadelphia with his new team. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Sean Couturier‘s line has been really strong for the Flyers, but how do they compare to Boston’s top line? (Broad Street Hockey)

• Devils veteran Andy Greene‘s season has been surprising so far. (All About the Jersey)

• Who is Sebastian Aho? (Cardiac Cane)

• It’s time for the Canadiens to sign Victor Mete to a long-term contract extension. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

Jason Spezza has a soft spot for Don Cherry, but he understands Sportsnet’s decision to part ways with him. (Toronto Star)

• The next five games are really important for the Florida Panthers. (The Rat Trick)

Jared McCann has been a nice find for the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Pensburgh)

• Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton explains why his team made a certain schematic change. (NBC Sports Chicago)

• The Golden Knights are reportedly searching for a mobile defenseman. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• It’s taken some time, but Kevin Fiala is finally starting to fit in with the Wild. (Hockey Wilderness)

• What’s it like to live in Connor McDavid‘s shadow? Leon Draisaitl tells ESPN.com.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Blackhawks encouraged by strong second half under Colliton

Getty Images
6 Comments

A second straight season without playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is unacceptable for the Chicago Blackhawks of today. Having won three championships since 2010, the franchise established itself as one of the NHL’s elite teams, but not playing deep into April the last two years resulted in change.

Joel Quenneville and his three Blackhawks Cup rings were told to go after 15 games last season. Enter Jeremy Colliton, who was running the bench for the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford. It was a drastic switch for a roster that features plenty of veterans, but after some time letting the new coach’s system sink in, the results finally began to show.

The Blackhawks recorded 39 points in 31 games after the All-Star break, third-most in the Western Conference over that span. They scored 112 goals, tied for fourth-most in the NHL, and vaulted themselves into a wild card race that they would ultimately fall short in by six points.

The takeaway from that final stretch was that the players saw hope that some continuity in their play, improvements defensively, and a full training camp and regular season under Colliton will pay off.

“It’s almost like we’re restarting again,” Patrick Kane told NBC Sports during last week’s NHL Player Media Tour. “You can kind of throw those [championship] years out the window. I know we have a couple guys from those teams but a lot has changed in the NHL, a lot has changed with our team. 

“I don’t want to say we’re in a rebuild, but we’re just rebuilding the team we need to be to win a championship. With the roster turnover, with Jeremy having more experience, our veterans coming in as motivated as they’ve ever been, it bodes well for our team this year.”

[MORE: Colliton looking forward to camp with new-look Blackhawks]

While the offense was hot, the defense was not. Only three teams in the West allowed more goals than the Blackhawks did (102) post-All-Star break. The acquisitions of Robin Lehner, Olli Maatta, and Calvin de Haan aim to improve things on that side of the ice, but it will require more than the players whose main job is to keep the “Goals Allowed” column a low number.

“I think everyone’s got to buy into the system,” said Alex DeBrincat. “It took us too long to get to the point where we were pissed off and not wanting to get scored on. Last year we’d win games 7-6, but hopefully this year we can not let up that many goals and still be winning games and be in the race.”

The adjustments that Colliton implemented took time to settle in, especially the man-to-man defensive zone strategy. For Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, the changes were more than he realized at first. Playing under Quenneville for so long players were used to a certain rhythm of doing things, like the tempo of practices.

“But in games, I think our defensive system changed, all those things that just kind of came naturally with how I played defensively as a forward all changed overnight and there was definitely some adjustment where we were still playing pretty good but just couldn’t find a way to win games and get over that hump once Jeremy took over,” Toews said.

Those struggles early on under Colliton included an eight-game losing streak and three wins in their first 17 games after Quenneville’s firing. But 67 games of experience for the new coach means 67 games of knowing what buttons to push for each of his players and 67 games of identifying the weaknesses that need improvement. The Blackhawks’ veterans aren’t going to put up with another season ending without a playoff berth and the road back there begins with the buying of what the head coach is selling.

“Jeremy is so detailed. He’s thought of everything. His approach is incredible, his preparation is incredible,” Toews said. “He’s great at talking to us, letting us know what he’s thinking. We’ve got to respect that he’s the boss, he’s making those decisions and he’s taking that responsibility. As a captain you sometimes have your own opinions, but you’re not always going to see perfectly eye to eye. He’s one of those guys who’s willing to hear you out and talk to you on a daily basis. 

“But having said that, there’s no guarantees. We’ve got to come to training camp ready to work knowing that we’re going to have to work really hard to get back to where we were near the end of last season.”

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Colliton looking forward to camp with new-look Blackhawks

AP Photo/Amr Alfiky
2 Comments

CHICAGO — Jeremy Colliton has a plan, and he has time. It feels pretty good, too.

Unlike last season, when he took over after the Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Joel Quenneville in November, Colliton gets a full training camp to implement his vision for the team. He also should have more practice time to use before the heart of the schedule increases the need for rest, and he thinks it could make a difference after Chicago missed the playoffs each of the previous two years.

”No question, it’s a big deal,” Colliton said Friday on the first day of the team’s annual fan convention. ”A chance to roll things out in a systematic way with a plan, a teaching progression, and the amount of practice time and video and conversations that are needed to really nail down how we expect the team to play. That’s exciting.”

The 34-year-old Colliton was inserted into a difficult situation for his first head coaching job in the NHL, replacing the popular Quenneville with the team in the middle of an eight-game slide. Chicago struggled to adjust to Colliton’s style, dropping 16 of his first 20 games behind the bench.

But Colliton and the Blackhawks got better the longer they were together, going 26-15-6 in their last 47 games. If they can pick up where they left off, they could put an end to what qualifies as an extended postseason drought in a city that partied with the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

”I think it took us a while to grasp on last year, probably longer than it should have,” forward Alex DeBrincat said. ”It kind of hurt us in the long run, but I mean towards that second half of the season I thought we were doing really well and winning a lot of games. With a full training camp, we can be a really good team from the start and put ourselves in a good position.”

While Colliton has strengthened his relationships with the team’s biggest stars over time, he is working with a much different group than the one he had at the end of last season. Defensemen Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta came over in a pair of June trades, goaltender Robin Lehner and center Ryan Carpenter agreed to deals in free agency and pesky forward Andrew Shaw returned to Chicago via a trade with Montreal.

The biggest outstanding question is the status of restricted free agent Brendan Perlini, who had 12 goals in 46 games after he was acquired in a November trade with Arizona that also moved Dylan Strome to the Blackhawks. Perlini and general manager Stan Bowman had no update on the situation Friday.

The 28-year-old de Haan, who is coming back from right shoulder surgery and might not be ready for the start of the season, played with Colliton in the minors. Looking back, he said he isn’t surprised to see Colliton get into coaching.

”You can see why he would be a good coach,” de Haan said. ”He’s very methodical. Smart guy. He’s climbed the ranks pretty quick, and I think there’s a reason for that.”

He certainly made an impression on the Blackhawks in his first season in charge.

”He’s really a bright guy,” star forward Patrick Kane said, ”and I think the thing he brings to the table is he’s smart, but he brings a simple approach and kind of lets you play off your instincts a little bit. I think he’s going to be a good coach for a long time.”

Colliton was a second-round pick in the 2003 NHL draft and had three goals and three assist in 57 games with the New York Islanders. He also played overseas before retiring due to post-concussion issues.

The Blackhawks’ busy offseason could create some tricky questions for training camp, but Colliton said the increased competition could help the team. After all, he has time to figure it out.

”Like anything, the longer (you are in a position), the more comfortable you get with the people around you and the responsibilities and what you want to do, it just gets easier,” he said. ”So I’m very comfortable. I’m excited.”

NHL coaching news: Blackhawks add Crawford; Quenneville finalizes Panthers’ staff

Getty
1 Comment

The Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks made some noteworthy additions to their coaching staffs on Tuesday, finalizing both of their staffs for the 2019-20 season.

Let’s take a quick look at the hirings.

Blackhawks add Marc Crawford

Let’s start with the Blackhawks where the team announced that Marc Crawford was added as an assistant to serve under coach Jeremy Colliton, joining a staff that already had Sheldon Brookbank, Tomas Mitell (assistants) and Jimmy Waite (goaltending coach).

Before joining the Blackhawks, Crawford had been a part of the Ottawa Senators’ coaching staff since the 2016 season when he was hired as an associated head coach under Guy Boucher. When the Senators fired Boucher late in the 2018-19 season they made Crawford the interim coach to finish the season where he compiled a 7-10-1 record.

Marc’s son, Dylan Crawford, is an assistant video coach with the Blackhawks.

“Jeremy has an extremely bright and innovative mind and I am totally impressed by his presence and enthusiasm,” Crawford said in a statement released by the team.

“I know we will have a terrific relationship and my experience should benefit the entire coaching staff.”

Crawford definitely has plenty of experience having been a head coach for parts of 16 seasons in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles, Dallas Stars, and Senators. He has compiled a 556-431-182 record in the league and won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche during the 1995-96 season. Despite that strong record and championship his teams missed the playoffs in each of the past five full seasons he was a head coach (with Los Angeles and Dallas).

The Blackhawks hired Colliton as their head coach early in the 2018-19 season after firing Joel Quenneville. They went 30-28-9 after the change.

Speaking of Quenneville…

Panthers finalize Quenneville’s coaching staff

After making Quenneville, a three-time Stanley Cup winning coach, one of the highlights of their offseason the Panthers finalized his coaching staff on Tuesday with the hiring of Mike Kitchen, Andrew Brunnette, and Derek MacKenzie as assistants.

Robb Tallas will also return as the team’s goaltending coach.

Kitchen is a long-time NHL assistant, while Brunnette spent several years working for the Minnesota Wild organization following the conclusion of his playing career.

MacKenzie spent the past five seasons as a player for the Panthers (he was limited to just one game this past season) and served as the team’s captain during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.

“We have assembled a talented coaching staff with unique perspectives and a wealth of hockey experience,” said Quenneville in a team statement.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a proven coach and a quality person like Mike Kitchen again, as well as Andrew Brunette who is a bright, young, hockey mind who I coached as a player. It’s exciting to welcome former Panthers captain Derek MacKenzieto our staff as he enters the NHL coaching ranks following a great playing career. Together with longtime goaltending coach Robb Tallas, we are motivated by the task ahead of us. Our staff is eager to begin working towards our goal of bringing playoff hockey back to South Florida.”

The Panthers have a strong core of talent in place and are looking to rebound from a disappointing season and snap their current three-year playoff drought.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Senators claim Marek Svatos off waivers; Zherdev, others go unclaimed

In a roundabout way, the Ottawa Senators traded Alexei Kovalev for Marek Svatos, a sixth or seventh rounder in the 2011 draft and a nice chunk of change this afternoon. The Senators made a waiver claim for Svatos today after the Nashville Predators placed the marginal winger on waivers on Wednesday.

While the two contracts are prorated at this point, it’s still easy to guess that the Senators are saving some serious dough by exchanging Kovalev’s $5 million annual salary for the $800K deal Svatos signed with the Predators. My rough estimates dictate that Kovalev is owed about $1.21 million for the remainder of 2010-11 while Svatos will make about $193,500 or so for the rest of the season. (Cap figures according to CapGeek.com, but I did the math … for better or worse.)

This comprises the only waiver wire pickup of the day, as Nikolai Zherdev, Craig Rivet, Ales Kotalik and Jeremy Colliton went unclaimed.