The Blackhawks filled one of their coaching vacancies Thursday by hiring 32-year-old Jeremy Colliton to lead the Rockford IceHogs, the team's AHL affiliate.
Colliton, a second-round pick of the New York Islanders in 2003, spent the past four years enjoying enormous success as the head coach of Mora IK in Sweden. The team posted a league-best 35-4-13 record and earned a promotion to the Swedish Hockey League next season.
"The reputation of the Blackhawks is excellent and my experience so far has been nothing but first class," Colliton said in a conference call Thursday. "I'm very happy to be a part of it."
Colliton replaces Ted Dent, who was fired in April after coaching the team for six seasons.
Before becoming a coach, Colliton played eight years as a pro, including 57 games for the New York Islanders. He admitted to being a "little bit surprised" to get this opportunity so quickly, but also expressed confidence in his ability to transfer his knowledge to young players trying to reach the highest level.
Colliton takes over an IceHogs team that finished last in its division with a 25-39-9-3 mark.
While Colliton, a native of Blackie, Alberta, understands the primary goal of the minor-league team is to develop NHL-caliber players, he said he also expects to win.
"I embrace the idea that the first priority in Rockford is to help the young players develop so that they can contribute and help the Blackhawks … win Stanley Cups," Colliton said. "That's the number one job, as it should be.
"But that doesn't prohibit you from having a winning team, and I also think (it's) important (to) teach these guys how to win and what it takes to be a guy (that is) trusted to be on the ice in important situations. Because that's how they're going to become everyday NHLers and players that the Blackhawks can trust to help them win."
As a player, Colliton scored 77 goals in 326 games for the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He also won a gold medal while representing Canada at the 2005 IIHF World U20 Junior Championships.
The Hawks are still searching for an assistant coach to replace Mike Kitchen, who was fired last month.