Blackhawks: Chicago Signs Colliton to Two-Year Extension

The Chicago Blackhawks have signed head coach Jeremy Colliton to a two-year contract extension, the team announced Tuesday.

The deal is a vote of confidence for the young coach, who’ll turn 36 on Wednesday.

“As we continue to build on the foundation we have here with this team, we will remain committed to working with our players to put them in the best positions to succeed,” Colliton said.

Colliton is currently in his third season behind the bench for the Blackhawks, bringing him to the final year of his original contract. Chicago signed him in November of 2018, making him the 38th head coach in franchise history and the successor of Joel Quenneville.

Prior to that, Colliton posted 57 games of NHL playing experience as a centre for the New York Islanders before retiring in January of 2014. He became head coach of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in May of 2017.

And now, through 137 regular season games with the Blackhawks, Colliton boasts a 62-58-17 record in the NHL. He led Chicago to the first round of the playoffs in the bubble last season and is a key fixture in the ongoing rebuild in the Windy City.

“Jeremy has shown an innate ability to develop young talent throughout his two seasons as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “This, coupled with his vast knowledge of the game, exceptional communication skills and determination to win, makes us extremely confident Jeremy has what it takes to lead our team back to an elite level as we continue to build a roster that can compete year in and year out.”

Colliton posted a 46-31-4-7 career coaching record for Rockford, joining the Blackhawks just a dozen games into his second AHL season. He led Chicago to a 32-30-8 record in his first full NHL season and unseated the Edmonton Oilers in the best-of-five qualifiers before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the post-season.

Colliton also coached Mora IK in the Swedish Hockey League, posting a 98-57-18 record across four seasons.


Canadiens: Habs Waive Perry, Frolik

The Montreal Canadiens placed forwards Corey Perry and Michael Frolik on waivers Monday, as they settled their opening night lineup prior to Wednesday’s puck drop.

89 players were placed on waivers Monday across the NHL, with teams having to finalize rosters ahead of Tuesday evening’s deadline.

The pandemic has made for some creative adjustments, including that of a taxi squad for each team. These groups of four to six players travel and practice with their clubs but are slated as minor leaguers under the cap, which means any player who has to clear waivers to be assigned to the American Hockey League will have to pass through waivers to make the taxi squad.

Any team claiming a player cannot immediately assign them to the taxi squad, either.

The Canadiens dumped eight players on waivers Sunday in hopes of clearing up necessary cap space, but only defenceman Noah Juulsen was claimed by Florida.

That made for bigger moves on Monday, which is why Perry and Frolik hit the wire.

Both signed one-year deals with Montreal to the tune of $750,000 in December, but now the Habs have to get under the $81.5 million salary cap and currently find themselves just a hair over the line.

“Obviously, we’ll have to start under the cap and by 5 o’clock tomorrow we’ll be under the cap,” Bergevin said Monday morning on TSN 690 Radio. “And after that we’ll just manage with our daily roster and see where we’re at as we move forward. Hopefully, injuries won’t be taking a factor too much and as the season progresses we’ll add more cap space and then hopefully sooner than later we’ll be in a good spot.”

35-year-old Perry was drafted 28th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. In 1,045 career games with the Ducks and Dallas Stars, he’s amassed 377 goals and a total of 797 points. In 145 playoff games, Perry has 98 points.

Frolik was selected 10th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. In 850 regular season games for the Panthers, Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, and Buffalo Sabres, the 32-year-old has scored 159 goals for a total of 384 points. In 47 playoff games, he has 19 points.


Senators: Excitement Builds as Stuetzle Makes Camp Debut

The Ottawa Senators finally got an up-close look at the third overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft as Tim Stuetzle took the ice for camp on Sunday.

The 18-year-old is fresh from a stellar stint with Germany at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he was named the best player in the tourney. He scored 10 points in five games, averaging 25:40 of ice time a contest.

The Senators are betting big on Stuetzle as they rebuild and anticipation couldn’t be higher.

The forward arrived in Ottawa on January 2 and quarantined for seven days before joining his squad. Stuetzle was tapped by Brady Tkachuk to lead the stretch at practice and got his feet wet early.

The rookie has been fitting in well with the Senators, taking mentorship from forward Derek Stepan and living with Tkachuk and Josh Norris.

“I was nervous at the beginning,” Stuetzle said Sunday. “But the boys did all the best to get the nervousness away from me, so I felt very good and comfortable on the ice with them. It was such an exciting day.”

There’s a lot to like about the Senators this season, even if the playoffs are a long shot in the ultra-competitive North Division. Ottawa will open its season Friday at home against Toronto, the same day Stuetzle turns 19.

In camp Sunday, he was on a line with Stepan and Evgenii Dadonov. Dadonov was also making his camp debut for the Senators after spending a week in quarantine. Stepan was delayed arriving at camp after the birth of his third child.

Now, it’s down to the business of hockey and Stuetzle knows he has a lot to prove.

“I mean, it’s great for me, obviously, but first I need to prove [myself] here on that level,” he said. “And that’s my goal. I hope I’m going to have a good training camp and play a good season, and that’s my goal. So, it’s great that everybody’s so excited, but first of all I need to prove [myself] on that level and play good hockey.”


Devils: Corey Crawford Announces Retirement

Goalie Corey Crawford has retired.

The 36-year-old announced his retirement Saturday, a day after announcing he’d be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the New Jersey Devils for personal reasons.

Crawford signed a two-year deal with the Devils as a free agent in October.

The Chateauguay native was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He retires having spent his entire playing career in the National Hockey League with Chicago, amassing 260 wins in 488 regular season games.

Crawford led the Blackhawks to two Stanley Cups (2013, 2015) and owns an impressive 52 playoff wins in 96 playoff games.

“I have been fortunate to have had a long career playing professional hockey for a living,” he said in a statement. “I wanted to continue my career, but believe I’ve given all I can to the game of hockey, and I have decided that it is time to retire. I would like to thank the New Jersey Devils organization for understanding and supporting my decision. I would like to thank the Chicago Blackhawks organization for giving me the chance to live my childhood dream.”

Crawford had been absent from training camp with the Devils since January 2, though he did participate in the first two practices on December 31 and January 1. At the time, New Jersey said they were going to give him the time he needed.

“We need to give him his space,” Devils forward Travis Zajac said. “Obviously, no one knows himself better than he does, so obviously we want him to be part of this team, but I think going forward, he’s got to make that decision. I think he can take all the time he needs. We want him here.”

Now, with the decision made, former teammates like Patrick Kane have nothing but good things to say.

“Still feel that he’s playing at a really high level, going back to last year in the playoffs,” Kane said. “I guess just wish him all the best. Obviously, we’ll have conversations and talk to him, but sometimes there are bigger things than hockey.”

Crawford was a co-recipient of the William M. Jennings Trophy twice and was part of Canada’s squad at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

As for the Devils, they’ll move on out of necessity. That opens a door for goalie Scott Wedgewood, who’ll likely slot in behind MacKenzie Blackwood for the time being. There aren’t many options left in free agency, so New Jersey will raid their own cupboard.


Stars: NHL Delays Commencement of Dallas Season After Positive COVID-19 Tests

The Dallas Stars’ season has been delayed after six players and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

The team will not be able to resume play before January 19.

Dallas would have otherwise opened the regular season on January 14 and 15 with two road games against the Florida Panthers, followed by two road games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 17 and 19.

“Those individuals are self-isolating and following CDC and League protocols. As a result of the positive tests, and as an appropriate precaution, the team’s training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed for several days while further daily testing and contact tracing is conducted,” the NHL said. “The League is in the process of reviewing and revising the Stars’ regular season schedule with the expectation that the team will not open its 2020-21 season earlier than Tuesday, January 19.”

The Panthers also noted in a statement that the games were to be rescheduled.

The Panthers, Stars and Lightning are three of the teams that plan on opening the regular season with limited fans in the stands. Florida stated that tickets for the original date of each game would be honoured for whenever the rescheduled contests are.

The Stars did not open doors to media and did not hold team practice Friday, although they did hold practice Thursday.

The Columbus Blue Jackets also announced some players would miss practice due to COVID-19 protocols, holding a limited skate Friday before calling off practice in the afternoon.

It’s up to the NHL to handle COVID-19-related announcements, just as it was during the return-to-play process this past summer, and you won’t see teams releasing specific publicity regarding the pandemic. Teams aren’t allowed to publish names of players impacted by COVID-19.

The NHL is set to begin a 56-game season on January 13 and will use divisional realignment to limit travel and risk. The Stars are part of the Central Division, which includes the Panthers, Lightning, Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings, and Nashville Predators.

Pic: Dallas Morning News/Ben Torres

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