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The Chicago Blackhawks have found their head coach to lead them into the next era of successful hockey. Yes, the road to get back there will be long and bumpy, but first-year general manager Kyle Davidson has his behind-the-bench navigator for the journey.
As first reported by Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff and later confirmed by our own Jay Zawaski, the Blackhawks will be naming Montreal Canadiens assistant Luke Richardson head coach early next week. There are still plenty of questions remaining, like what will Richardson’s coaching staff look like and what is Derek King’s role, if any, going forward? For now, our CHGO Blackhawks crew of Zawsaski, Greg Boysen, and Mario Tirabassi will give you their first reactions.
Jay: When the list of candidates for the Blackhawks head coaching job became public, Richardson’s name was the one that stood out to me the most. We know what Davidson was looking for in a head coach. Development, defense, and presence. Richardson checks all those boxes. A veteran of 1,417 NHL games (and 2,055 penalty minutes), Richardson was a rugged stay-at-home defender. His players love him and his coaching style.
“His calming influence behind the bench,” Jeff Petry told the Athletic. “Little tips he would give you, or the entire D corps, that you would normally never think about, different ways to play different situations, he helped me tremendously.”
Had he been bilingual, it’s a safe assumption that he would have been at least the interim head coach in Montreal this season, but Martin St. Louis came in and took the job. St. Louis would have been happy to welcome Richardson back had things not worked out in Chicago, but he won’t have to worry about that anymore. The more I read about Richardson, the more optimistic I get about this hire.
Greg: Right now, there aren’t many reasons to be upset with this hire. Davidson wasn’t going after a big-name coach, so he found his guy in Richardson and is signing him up. All we can do is give the young GM a chance to put his vision of a winning hockey culture into action. He has shown that he wants to be surrounded by as many different bright and trusted voices, with everyone bringing their expertise to the mission of winning Stanley Cups.
Richardson had a long and successful NHL career. He has been an American Hockey League head coach and an NHL assistant for years. He has plenty of experience and knows the league inside and out. This is a guy who has been grooming himself for this exact moment. If you want a shot of confidence that this is a good hire, read what Canadiens writers and fans are writing on social media. They are happy for Richardson but also very sad to see him go. When you can win over the press and the fans in the Montreal market, you have really accomplished something. Welcome to Chicago, coach!
Mario: When the report from Scott Powers of The Athletic came out that Richardson, Brad Shaw, and King were the likely final three head coaching candidates, Richardson stood out to me as the coach I thought would be the best fit. While I still really like King and believe he will have a role with the team moving forward, Richardson checks many boxes that the Blackhawks and I were looking for.
He had a long playing career with over 1,400+ NHL games as a defenseman and eight NHL seasons as an assistant coach to go along with his four-year stint as an AHL head coach. By all accounts from his time with the Canadiens, he is a good person and a coach that players love to play for. Chicago gets a little bit of presence, a little bit of a “players coach,” and a little bit of a guy who can grow as a head coach alongside the team as they (hopefully) grow into contenders. Nothing to not like about the move for me.
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