Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton has been slowly putting his imprint on the team since taking the job earlier this month, and on Friday he made one of his most controversial moves of his tenure as he scratched defenseman Henri Jokiharju from the team’s lineup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Jokiharju, who has 10 assists in 22 games with the Blackhawks this season, will be replaced in the lineup by Brandon Manning, and the move got Blackhawks fans talking in a big way on social media.
In a press conference prior to the game, Colliton said that the team wants to see “more” from Jokiharju, and that he hopes the benching can be a learning experience.
“When you’re a first year pro, there’s ebbs and flows in your game, and we want to get him back to his highest level,” he said. “I think he’s got more to give us. We really believe in him, and tonight can be a part of that.
“He had a fantastic start, and we want to get him back to that level as quickly as we can. I’m sure he’s not thrilled about coming out of the lineup and that’s fine but that goes along with getting feedback from us on how to get back to playing his best,” he added.
Andreas Martinsen and John Hayden will also be scratched for the Blackhawks in the game, and Chris Kunitz and Luke Johnson will make their way back into the lineup for the game against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
It is unclear whether Jokiharju will remain in the press box for Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers, as the Blackhawks finish off a quick three game road trip.
Puck drop between the Blackhawks and Bolts is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.