Blackhawks Fire Joel Quenneville, Name Jeremy Colliton New Head Coach

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2018

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville stands in the bench in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-1. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The Chicago Blackhawks fired head coach Joel Quenneville on Tuesday and named Jeremy Colliton his replacement.

Chicago also parted ways with assistant coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson. The team added Barry Smith as an assistant under Colliton.

Quenneville spent 10 full seasons as Chicago's head coach, but the Blackhawks are off to a 6-6-3 start in 2018-19. They are two points out of a top-eight playoff spot in the Western Conference and in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman issued a statement on the heels of Quenneville's dismissal:

"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."

Chairman Rocky Wirtz also commented on Quenneville's departure:

"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."

During his tenure in Chicago, the 60-year-old Quenneville went 452-249-96 for a .627 winning percentage.

He led the Hawks to nine playoff appearances in his 10 full campaigns with the team, including Stanley Cup wins in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

The Blackhawks fell short of the playoffs last season, as they went just 33-39-10 and finished with 76 points, their lowest total since 2006-07.

Prior to joining the Blackhawks in 2008, Quenneville was the head coach of the St. Louis Blues from 1996-97 through 2003-04. He then had a three-year stint as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

During his 22-year career as an NHL head coach, Quenneville is 890-532-77-137. His 890 wins rank second in NHL history behind only Scotty Bowman, who has 1,244.

Quenneville has missed the playoffs just three times as a head coach, and his three Stanley Cups are tied for the ninth-most in NHL history.

While the Blackhawks have fallen off over the past two seasons, many who cover the team questioned the decision to part ways with Quenneville.

Mark Lazerus and Chris Kuc of The Athletic were among them:

Mark Lazerus @MarkLazerus

Clearly, the Blackhawks have been just looking for a reason to fire Joel Quenneville. What, if Duncan Keith doesn't get ejected Saturday night and Corey Crawford staves off the Flames barrage, he's still employed today? What madness this is.

Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc

Joel Quenneville deserved better.

The 33-year-old Colliton is the youngest head coach in the NHL after spending parts of two seasons as head coach of the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. The Illinois-based team is Chicago's top minor league affiliate. 

Colliton appeared in 57 NHL games over five seasons with the New York Islanders, registering three goals and three assists.

Although he lacks experience, Colliton will have no shortage of talent at his disposal in Chicago, as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and goalie Corey Crawford all have multiple Stanley Cup rings.

As for Quenneville, TSN's Darren Dreger noted that he may be a top candidate to take over as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings when they assess their coaching situation at the end of the season after firing John Stevens on Sunday.