CHICAGO — Ten years ago, they gave a veteran coach the keys to a young team with a lot of talent that was ready to break out. Now in 2018, the Blackhawks are giving a young coach a shot to make a name for himself while keeping a dynasty going for a few more seasons.
It’s a big break for 33-year old Jeremy Colliton, who becomes the 38th head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, and the youngest head coach in the National Hockey League.
For those getting to know Colliton, there is only a year and a handful of games to evaluate in North America. He was hired as head coach of the Rockford IceHogs before the start of the 2017-2018 season after spending four seasons in Sweden at the start of his coaching career.
But if you look at his success, you’ll understand why the Blackhawks think they’ve got someone special to replace a legend.
Following the end of his eight-year hockey career which included stints in the NHL (New York Islanders) and the AHL (Bridgeport Sound Tigers), Colliton joined Mora IK in Sweden. He was first an interim head coach during the 2013-2014 season and then oversaw the building of a team that was in Tier 2 HockeyAllsvenskan when he got the job full-time.
A 35-4-13 league-best record in the 2016-2017 season with Mora IK earned the team a promotion to the Tier 1 Swedish Hockey league the following year, thanks to a seven-game playoff series win over Leksands IF. During his time in Sweden, Colliton’s teams went 98-18-57. That earned him his first North American job when the Rockford IceHogs offered him a head coaching position for the 2017-2018 season.
Colliton once again had quick success, making franchise history during his first season. He posted a 40-28-4-4 record during his only full season in Rockford, which landed the IceHogs in the playoffs. There, they swept away the Chicago Wolves, then Manitoba. to advance to the IceHogs’ first Western Conference Finals.
Even though they lost to Texas in six games, the coaching performance — along with the play of those players called up to the NHL from Rockford — earned the Blackhawks’ attention. It was good enough that they’ve tapped this young, yet talented, coach to replace a legend.