Covering the Land of Lincoln

The Rink – It’s Time: Collin Delia for Free

Rockford IceHogs goalkeeper Collin Delia celebrates after a win. (Courtesy photo of the Rockford IceHogs)

When the Chicago Blackhawks signed Collin Delia for a three-year contract extension in 2019, it was thought he was a development goalkeeper for the future. Now his future with the Hawks seems to be over.

Promising start

After Delia was a perpetual free agent, Delia signed a two-year deal with the Blackhawks in 2017. This season Delia started 10 games with the Indy Fuel, 17 games with the Rockford IceHogs and two games with the Blackhawks. Delia became the first player since Fuel’s inception in 2014 as a Blackhawks partner to make the NHL list after playing at Indy.

His two starts with Blackhawks this season weren’t great, but it warranted a return to Rockford in 2018-19. At Rockford, he set a 7-5-4 record with 2.34 goals against average and 0.933 percentages in 17 AHL games before being recalled by the Blackhawks. He would win his first three starts that season with a save percentage of .972 against Colorado, .958 against Minnesota, and .938 against Colorado. He’d go 6-4-3 with a .909 save percentage before being sent down when longtime Hawks big net keeper Corey Crawford returned from a concussion. Delia finished at Rockford with a save percentage of 0.922 and 2.48 goals against the average.

Former head coach Jeremy Colliton was quoted in an article in the Jimmy Greenfield Chicago Tribune saying that Delia played well and deserved to be in the picture in the future.

“He’s had another really successful season so far and it’s not over yet,” said coach Jeremy Colliton. “He’s earned a contract and everyone knows and feels that he’s going to be a big part of our future here.

Goalkeeping competition

At the start of the 2019/20 season, the Blackhawks had an open competition on the net between Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban.

Delia drew for the first time on the net against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He gave up five goals in 37 shots behind a lazy defense against the eventual Stanley Cup winner.

In Delia’s next start, the Blackhawks’ second game of the season, he again gave up five goals in 36 shots behind another weak defensive performance. The Panthers finished seventh in the season with 118 goals and a GF% of 54.03.

Subban was the next goalkeeper to be brought out by the Blackhawks, and he didn’t do much better than Delia. In his first start against Tampa Bay, Subban scored five goals in 33 shots for a Blackhawks loss. Subban would do better in his second start, allowing only three goals in 39 shots in a loss to Nashville in overtime. Nashville finished 20th in the goals category with 104 and a GF% of 53.61.

The third man in the goalkeeping competition was Lankinen. On his first use, he allowed Florida five goals in 30 shots. On his next start, he faced the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings finished last in the NHL with 87 goals for and from GF% of 43.72. He allowed a goal on 31 shots.

After two starts against two top offenses behind the miserable defensive performance of his team in front of him, Delia had to sit on the bench for an indefinite period of time despite similar numbers as the other goalkeepers in the three-way battle. Lankien would become the Blackhawks’ starting goalkeeper with Subban as a backup. Delia was relegated to the team’s taxi roster and did not appear in a game until he was sent to Rockford on February 26 for a stamina assignment. Apparently his AHL numbers were skewed as he had played in almost no game action that season. Delia appeared in four more games this season, one substitute and three starts at the end of the year. In his last start to the season, he recorded 45 saves from 50 shots in an overtime loss to Dallas.

The Colliton Effect

With Delia faring the same as Subban and Lankinen against Florida and Tampa, one might suspect that his lack of playing time was due to a coaching preference. As Chicago SunTimes’ Ben Pope recently revealed, when Colliton didn’t like a player, he stopped communicating with them and didn’t play them. One might guess that two starts are not enough to judge a player, especially a player who had received such ardent remarks from the same coach a year earlier. However, this was an issue for the former head coach: he was quick to judge a player and once his judgment was made there was no change. Another example of this was Colliton’s dealings with Dylan Strome that season before he was released from his duties.

Season 2021-22

When the Blackhawks acquired Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights for literally free (okay, technically Mikael Hakkarainen, but Vegas reassigned him to the Hawks organization after the deal) the assumption was that both Delia and Subban were down would be sent to Rockford or traded while Lankinen would serve as Fleury’s backup. In fact, both Delia and Subban were picked up at the end of training camp and assigned to the IceHogs.

With the IceHogs’ focus on the development of Arvid Soderblom, Delia seems to be the weird man again. He has only seen one start in the first nine IceHogs competitions this season.

Ironically, the IceHogs are hosting the Collin Delia Designer Hat Night this Friday. It will be interesting to see if the organization actually has the guts not to play Delia for the game, or if he will rightly play the last hurray on his own night, so to speak.

It is evident that the once promising goalkeeper in the Blackhawks organization no longer has a place with them. It is time for the Delia organization to do a favor and part with him. It is time for both sides to move on and for Delia to have a fair chance to establish herself as an NHL goalkeeper as that opportunity clearly won’t present itself in Chicago.

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