The Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Jeremy Colliton on Saturday, terminating the contract of the former NHL forward after a rough start in his fourth season with the team. The 36-year-old was only in the first year of a two-year contract extension.

Along with Colliton, assistant coaches Tomas Mitell and Sheldon Brookbank also were let go. Derek King, promoted from the AHL’s Rockford, will replace Colliton on an interim basis. Chicago lost 5-1 at Winnipeg on Friday night, dropping 1-9-2 after beginning the season with playoff aspirations.

Colliton’s dismissal is the latest chapter in a rough stretch for what was once regarded as one of the NHL’s marquee franchises.

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On Oct. 26, the Blackhawks released a study showing that senior executives in the organisation mostly disregarded charges that assistant coach Brad Aldrich sexually harassed former first-round pick Kyle Beach during the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup season. The encounter, according to Aldrich, was consenting.

Following the investigation, Chicago’s general manager and president of hockey operations, Stan Bowman, and team executive Al MacIsaac resigned, and the NHL penalised the team $2 million. Joel Quenneville, the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks at the time of the alleged assault, has resigned as the head coach of the Florida Panthers.

Colliton’s termination, on the other hand, was driven by the team’s on-ice performance.

When Colliton took over for Quenneville in November 2018, he inherited a difficult position. He was the franchise’s 38th coach. Then COVID-19 ruined his second and third seasons with the Blackhawks.

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In 2020, he led Chicago to the playoffs, winning a four-game series against Edmonton before falling to Vegas. Last season, the Blackhawks were without captain Jonathan Toews but remained in playoff contention before finishing with a 24-25-7 record.

Colliton, on the other hand, was let go following a slow start that included offensive and defensive problems. When the coach was unveiled before the team’s first home game, he was booed, and fans screamed “Fire Colliton!” during a 6-3 loss to Detroit on Oct. 24, which also marked the end of the franchise’s 535-game sellout run.

WIth inputs from the Associated Press