Why Richardson might be the right man to lead the Blackhawks back to the top

  • Luke Richardson was named Monday the 40th coach in Blackhawks history. "My philosophy is to be better today than we were yesterday and, to achieve that, we will need commitment and consistency," he said.

    Luke Richardson was named Monday the 40th coach in Blackhawks history. "My philosophy is to be better today than we were yesterday and, to achieve that, we will need commitment and consistency," he said. Associated Press

Updated 6/27/2022 11:08 AM

It's been a wild ride for the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans the past 15 years.

A franchise left for dead in 2007 came roaring back to life, took the city by storm and doubled its Stanley Cup trophy case in just six seasons.


Patrick Kane got the party started in Philadelphia in 2010; Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland kept it rolling during 17 incredible seconds in 2013; and Duncan Keith, Kane and Corey Crawford rubber-stamped a night nobody will forget during Game 6 of the 2015 Cup Final at the United Center.

Whether those days are a distant memory or not that long ago depends on your perspective, but one thing's for sure: The recent past has been awfully tough to stomach for many.

Between the bickering behind the scenes about how to move forward; to a sexual abuse scandal that rocked the organization and ruined careers; to a captain that took a season off due to illness; to all the awful trades and constant losing; to chaos in the broadcasting booths, one has to wonder how much goodwill remains.

Well, on Monday, a new era officially dawned with the Hawks naming Luke Richardson as their 40th head coach.

"Luke shares our vision and goals for the future, and he will have an opportunity to build an environment and culture of high-performance, hard work and high accountability," GM Kyle Davidson said in a statement. "Throughout the interview process, it became evident that he not only had every quality we were looking for in a head coach, but also is a high-character individual that was perfect to lead this next era of the Chicago Blackhawks."

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No details of Davidson's contract were included in Monday's release. A news conference to introduce Richardson is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday.

"I plan to create an environment of trust with our team," Richardson said. "With trust, relationships will form and grow, thus allowing everyone to blossom and execute their role. My philosophy is to be better today than we were yesterday and, to achieve that, we will need commitment and consistency."

So, is this the beginning of a glorious resurgence? Or are the Hawks destined to remain among the bottom-feeders of teams like Arizona, Buffalo and New Jersey?

Only time will tell, but hiring the right coach during a massive rebuild is obviously of utmost importance. Richardson, a defenseman who played 1,417 games in the NHL over 21 seasons, spent the last 12 years earning his stripes in various coaching roles. He was hired as an assistant in Montreal in 2018 and spent six games of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs as head coach when Dominique Ducharme was in COVID protocol.


Anaheim Ducks coach Dallas Eakins -- who is good friends with Richardson as well as the departed Derek King -- believes the Hawks made a solid choice.

"He was put into an interesting spot in Montreal that he handled incredibly well," Eakins said. "He's been a head coach at the American League level. He's got a lot of experience.

"He's gonna have a very high level of patience. There's gonna be a lot of inspiration, mixed in with accountability. ... That's going to bode very well for the Blackhawks' organization."

Eakins and Richardson were teammates and defense partners for the OHL's Peterborough Petes from 1985-87. Eakins was also part of Richardson's wedding party in the summer of 1989.

While Eakins' "heart breaks" for King -- whom he hired as a Toronto Marlies assistant in 2009 -- he's also "so excited" for Richardson.

Eakins said the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Richardson was an excellent skater and "a devastating hitter." He's also a workout fiend.

"These guys that played 20 years -- you don't do that by accident," Eakins said. "You've got to be basically one of two things: You've either got to be a highly skilled, gifted player -- or you've got to be a totally committed workaholic, detail-oriented player. That's what Luke was."

Richardson was drafted seventh overall by Toronto in 1987 and played four seasons for the Maple Leafs. He went on to play for Edmonton (1991-97), Philadelphia (1997-2002), Columbus (2002-06), Toronto again (2006) and Ottawa (2007-08). He got his start behind the bench with the Senators in 2009 as an assistant, then was hired to lead the AHL's Binghamton Senators in 2012.

Now, he's coming in on the ground floor of a rebuild -- not a bad spot for a first-year guy with an impressive playing and coaching resume.

"He had to get everything done by hard work and commitment and by being accountable to himself," Eakins said. "When you've gone through that as a person and as a coach, it just becomes part of your self culture.

"Team cultures have a lot to do with a whole bunch of people coming together, but a manager is a driver and the coach is the driver.

"Luke's own personal culture is one that's going to be very easy to be inspired by."

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