CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Joel Quenneville on Tuesday, ending a wildly successful run that produced three Stanley Cup titles and returned the franchise to the top of the NHL after years of heartache.
The trouble for Quenneville began when Chicago was swept by Nashville in the first round of the 2017 playoffs after the Blackhawks finished with the best record in the Western Conference. Then they missed the playoffs entirely last season for the first time in a decade.
With the Blackhawks struggling again, general manager Stan Bowman had enough. He dismissed Quenneville and assistants Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson. Jeremy Colliton was hired as the 38th head coach in franchise history and Barry Smith was added as an assistant.
“This is certainly a very difficult decision,” Bowman said in a statement. “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.”
Chicago (6-6-3) has dropped five in a row heading into Thursday’s game against Carolina. The power play has been an issue for years, and the Blackhawks have struggled defensively as well.
The 60-year-old Quenneville likely will find work very soon. He took over as Blackhawks coach early in the 2008-09 season and led them to the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He went 452-249-96 during the regular season, and Chicago made the playoffs in nine of 10 full seasons with Quenneville behind the bench.
Quenneville is the second NHL coach to be fired in the past three days. The Los Angeles Kings fired John Stevens on Sunday.
Colliton, 33, had been coach of the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford, Illinois.
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