In the first half of the new millennium Jeremy Colliton played for the Prince Albert Raiders and was studying at Carlton Comprehensive Public High School.
Thirteen years later, the Alberta native now has one of the biggest jobs in the NHL. Colliton was named new head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday, making him the youngest head coach currently in the league at the age of 33. The former Raider centreman takes over the helm from Joel Quenneville who was fired by the club.
There was high praise and a sense of pride from a local teacher and coach with news that a former Raider had just moved up to the big time.
“He was a real student of the game and he was a professional,” skills coach with the Raiders and teacher at Carlton High, Mark Odnokon told paNOW. “He carried himself very well on and off the ice, so to see him in that position you’re obviously very proud of him, but we think he’s earned it and he’s ready for that.”
Colliton’s immediate coaching position before taking the Chicago job was with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League. From 2005 he played various stints in the AHL for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, as well as 57 games in the NHL with the New York Islanders over a nine-year pro career that ended in 2014 with a season in the Swedish First Division. He stayed there to coach.
As a P.A. Raider, Colliton played 229 games in his four-year WHL career between 2001 and 2005. He scored 176 points, with 71 goals.
Asked about Colliton’s rise to the very top at such a young age, Odnokon said it was clear the player had special qualities.
“Jeremy’s also been over to Europe so he’s been exposed to that game with the hybrid type of game that we play now,” he said. He added it was nice that some of the early coaching Colliton received in P.A. probably had some bearing on where he was headed.
“We had Dave Manson at that time and Peter Anholt, and both those guys were very passionate so Jeremy fitted in very well with them, and he had great qualities even as a 16-year-old.”
Odnokon said the corridors at Carlton High would be abuzz with the news of a former Raiders’ big success.
"Definitely. I have a hockey class here that I teach and we always tell the students there’s a lot of jobs in hockey if you can’t keep playing: broadcasting, training, coaching,” he said. “To see this guy come through here and come through Prince Albert and make it, it’s a great example. Just following your dreams and have the passion for it, and it’ll come.”
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