Joel Quenneville fired by Chicago Blackhawks; Jeremy Colliton named new head coach

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Nicknamed "Coach Q," Joel Quenneville took the Blackhawks to the playoffs in 9 of his 10 full seasons. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

The Chicago Blackhawks fired head coach Joel Quenneville, who led the team to three Stanley Cups, and replaced him with Jeremy Colliton, the team announced Tuesday.


The Blackhawks won three Stanley Cups under Quenneville in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He took over the Blackhawks shortly into the 2008-09 season to replace the fired Denis Savard.

The Blackhawks have made the playoffs in nine of ten seasons under Quenneville, coming up short last season. This season under Quenneville, the Blackhawks have won 6, lost 6 and lost 3 in overtime.

Quenneville is the second-winningest head coach in Blackhawks history, with a record of 452-249-96 in 797 games. He is also the second-winningest coach in NHL history with an all-time record of 890-532-214.

Quenneville has been replaced by Jeremy Colliton, who at 33 years old, is now the youngest head coach in the NHL. He was serving in his second season as head coach of the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate Rockford Ice Hogs.

Colliton is younger than current Blackhawks Chris Kunitz (39), Duncan Keith (35), Cam Ward (34) and Corey Crawford, who is also 33.

Before serving as head coach of the Ice Hogs, Colliton spent four seasons as the head coach of Mora IK in Sweden. The Blackie, Alberta native played eight years in the NHL and AHL, appearing in 57 NHL games with the New York Islanders. The Blackhawks will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to introduce Colliton.

Chicago Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough said Tuesday was a tough a bittersweet day.

He said he met with Quenneville early Tuesday morning, who was "classy, respectful, dignified, and appreciative" after hearing the news. McDonough called Quenneville "the greatest coach in the history of our franchise and a sure-fire Hall of Famer."

But McDonough also said the team needs to get better.

"We are the Chicago Blackhawks. We know who we are. We know where we need to be in the landscape of Chicago," McDonough said. "There is always going to be a sense of purpose and a sense of urgency with this franchise."

McDonough said he's excited to welcome Colliton as head coach.

"He is measured. He is bright. He's got a very good hockey mind. He's an excellent communicator. That is the one thing that really, really stood out," McDonough said. "He will be given everything he needs to succeed."

Colliton thanked the Blackhawks leadership for bringing him to the organization from Sweden and for giving him this chance to lead an original six franchise in a "fantastic city with a tradition of success."

He also thanked Quenneville.

"He was a big part of why I wanted to come to the organization in the first place, and he was great to me - treated me so well. For that reason, it's bittersweet to be succeeding him," Colliton said.

WATCH: Fans saddened by Quenneville firing
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Page's restaurant in downtown Hinsdale has a wall of photos dedicated to the Chicago Blackhawks and former head coach Joel Quenneville.



Page's restaurant in downtown Hinsdale has a wall of photos dedicated to the Chicago Blackhawks and former head coach Joel Quenneville. He and his family are regulars there. Patrons were devastated to hear news of his firing.

"It was like a death in the family. My heart went to my stomach. I couldn't believe it," said Sissy Rall, of Page's Restaurant.

They're worried he may now leave town - a place they say he's grown attached to.

"Pillar of the community. The nicest guy in the world. Friends to everybody. I mean, he'll be missed. Don't make me cry," said Kathy Barbara, of Page's Restaurant.

ESPN sports radio was flooded with talk from disappointed fans and surprised hosts on Tuesday.

"Second winningest coach of all time, three Stanley Cups and he's beloved by his players. This, for me, is a shocker," said David Kaplan, ESPN 1000 host.

"Coach Quenneville is a legend. He larger than life in this city," said George Lemperis of The Palace Grill, a popular Hawks hangout down the street from the United Center.

Tuesday was also a sad day for employees at the York Tavern in west suburban Oak brook, who took pictures with Quenneville and the Stanley Cup when he brought it there.

"Super nice person. The nicest guy ever," said Michelle Corcoran of York Tavern.

The Blackhawks also announced that assistant coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelson have also been let go. Barry Smith, a member of the Blackhawks Hockey Operations staff, will join Colliton's staff as an assistant coach. All other coaches will remain in place.

In a statement, Blackhawks Senior Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman said, "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.
"

Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement, "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."
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