The Chicago Blackhawks announced Thursday they have hired Jeremy Colliton to serve as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.
"Jeremy’s experience as a player and a coach will allow him to be a great leader and mentor for our young prospects in Rockford," said General Manager Stan Bowman. "He is coming off a great start to his coaching career with four successful seasons in Sweden and fits very well into our plan of continuing to develop our younger players."
"The main thing is there’s a lot of talented young players coming through the organization," Colliton said in a conference call with the media, discussing Stan Bowman's pitch to join the organization. "The goal is to get as many ready for the NHL as possible and help the Blackhawks win. That’s the plan. Our conversations were about how would you do that. What the vision of the Blackhawks was as far as what they want from those guys and how they'll fit in. I think I can offer something there. Put those young guys in situations to continue to improve," said Colliton.
Colliton spent the last four seasons as the head coach of Mora IK in Sweden. Colliton guided his team to a league-best 35-4-13 record and 105 points during the 2016-17 season. Following the regular season, he led Mora IK to a promotion to the Swedish Hockey League for the 2017-18 season after defeating Leksands IF in six games of the best-of-seven series. Colliton joined the coaching ranks with Mora IK in an interim head coaching role during the 2013-14 season before taking over full-time the following season. In four seasons with Colliton behind the bench, Mora IK posted a 98-18-57 record.
Prior to becoming a coach, Colliton had an eight-year professional career primarily in the National Hockey League and AHL. He appeared in 57 NHL games across five seasons with the New York Islanders. He was originally drafted by the Islanders in the second round of the 2003 NHL Draft.
The 32-year-old also spent parts of six seasons in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, recording 203 points (77G, 126A) in 326 career games.
"I’ve been in these guys’ shoes. I know what it’s like to play in the American League," Colliton said in his conference call. "Hopefully I can use that experience as a way to help communicate the message these guys need to reach their dreams. I’m sure there are some generational things that are easier, but as a coach, it’s really important you can connect with these guys and build a relationship and trust.”
Colliton is the fourth Head Coach in Rockford’s AHL history, and 10th overall as the team enters its 19th season. Other coaches in the team’s AHL era include Ted Dent (11-17), Bill Peters (08-11), and Mike Haviland (07-08). Colliton is just the third Head Coach in the history of the IceHogs to bring NHL playing experience behind the bench, and first in the team’s AHL era.