In a surprising move, the Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Joel Quenneville on Tuesday morning. The team missed the playoffs in 2017-18 and had started this season with a 6-6-3 record. Quenneville won three Stanley Cups with the franchise and is the second-most winningest coach behind only Scotty Bowman. A pretty impressive record.
Jeremy Colliton, the franchise’s AHL coach, was named as his replacement.
It used to be that having fantasy shares of young players coming up with Chicago was a waste. Quenneville was notorious for underutilizing his younger players. Just think of names like Teuvo Teravainen and Nick Leddy. That seems to have changed recently given the heavy usage of guys like Nick Schmaltz, Alex DeBrincat, and Henri Jokiharju. We could argue whether that’s a result of the roster being depleted because of trades of younger players to rid themselves of bad contracts, but at least he’s not playing Chris Kunitz ahead of DeBrincat.
In that sense, this isn’t some miracle upgrade for those of us with younger players in the Blackhawks franchise. The noteworthy guys were already getting a lot of ice time. It’s hard to imagine guys like Schmaltz and DeBrincat getting up to 20 minutes just because Quenneville is gone.
If there is a big change that could come, it would be on the power play. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Chicago is last in goals per 60 minutes at five-on-four. If Colliton and his new assistants can turn around the power play, it could turn around the team’s fortunes.
There is nowhere to go but up for the guys on the PP. That should be good news for the top-end players on the roster, otherwise known as the guys we’d roster in fantasy leagues. It could be a tick up for names like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
We’ll see what happens at five-on-five. Quenneville’s teams of late have played with a lot of pace, which leads to a lot of shots against Corey Crawford. If Colliton slows that pace down, it would be good news for Crawford’s goals against average as he sees fewer shots.
Also, keep an eye on Dylan Sikura. He leads Rockford in points and Colliton would know what he can do. Maybe he can convince Bowman to recall him?
All told, the only real difference we should see is on the power play. It can’t get any worse. Their first game will tell us what kind of usage they will have and who will be involved.
Interesting times in Chicago.