Kirby Dach is in the process of finding an enviable place with the Canadiens and in the NHL. His former coach with the Chicago Blackhawks believes the best is yet to come for the forward.
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Jeremy Colliton managed Dach for more than two seasons with the Hawks. It was not the talent of the athlete that was lacking in his case, but his lack of consistency.
“I can’t say it didn’t work for him,” Colliton said during his visit to Laval this week. He was so young.
“At this age, it is difficult to find your bearings and show consistency. He had several good times under my command. In the bubble in Edmonton, he was one of our best players before suffering an injury.
“Afterwards, he needed a lot of time to find the same rhythm again.”
Colliton doesn’t want to speculate on why the Hawks decided to trade Dach to the Canadiens in the last draft.
Photo archives, AFP
Jeremy Colliton thinks Kirby Dach (number 77 center) has a bright future in the NHL.
“It was not a question of success in his case. They (the Hawks) simply decided to move on, underlined the one who is now the coach of the Abbotsford Canucks in the American League.
“Kirby is putting a lot of pressure on himself to become an elite player in the NHL. His standards are high. He wants to be a top player. However, it can take time.”
According to Colliton, Dach has all the qualities to have a great career in the NHL.
“He’s a good skater and you can see his skills when he carries the puck on the ice,” added the former player. He is capable of creating good scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
“He is able to play in all situations. In the past, it was used in all sauces. I don’t know if we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in his case.
“On the other hand, I know that he puts all the efforts to become a good player.”
Able to handle pressure
Dach had some pressure on his shoulders when he was part of the Blackhawks organization. He was a first-round pick, third overall, in the 2019 draft.
Despite his excellent junior career, the 6-foot-3, 211-pound colossus had some difficulty making the transition to the NHL.
“He was a teenager when he came to Chicago,” Colliton said. When he made the jump, he had a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
“However, no one put more pressure on themselves than him. It’s a good thing because in Montreal, the pressure is very present.
During his early years in the NHL, Dach learned many hard lessons. These could serve him with the Canadian.
“He already has a lot of experience that will help him in his development. Now he has his destiny in his hands.”
Life after a layoff
This time last year, Jeremy Colliton was home with his family. He was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this month.
A pill that was hard to swallow. His first dismissal since the start of his coaching career.
“We all end up getting fired,” Colliton said with a smile. I am a competitive person who wants to be successful.
“When you are a coach, you always think you can make a difference. And no matter the situation, you want to make it work. With the Hawks, it didn’t work out.”
In the following weeks, he reflected on his first stint in the NHL.
“You think about your lived experiences and how you want to use them in the future. It allowed me to recharge my batteries.”
More mature trainer
During this period, Colliton participated in the Beijing Games as an assistant coach for the Canadian team. A golden opportunity to learn from a seasoned coach like Claude Julien.
“It made me realize that I always had to be on the lookout for new ideas and new solutions. And not to be afraid to take stock with the people I work with.
“Every situation I’ve been through with the Hawks is going to make me a better coach.”
A call from Alvin
Colliton decided to take a step back in his career by accepting the position of head coach of the Abbotsford Canucks in the AHL.
“Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin contacted me. I felt appreciated and wanted. I felt they believed in me.
“I can bring something to this organization and I want to prove that they were right to hire me.”
During the conversation, he avoided talking about a return to the NHL. He has to get back on his feet after a rock’n’roll experience in Chicago.
“I love this league and it’s rewarding to work with young players to help them achieve their dreams. We try to prepare them to play a role in Vancouver and we want to do it in a winning environment.
“In my view, winning is an integral part of development.”