Creating cohesion: How new coach Luke Richardson and the Blackhawks plan to move forward together

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Luke Richardson is stepping into his new role as Blackhawks coach with an awareness of where the team is at and how to jumpstart it.

    Luke Richardson is stepping into his new role as Blackhawks coach with an awareness of where the team is at and how to jumpstart it. Associated Press

  • Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson watches the team play against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period of Wednesday's preseason game. Richardson plans to be hands on with his team.

    Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson watches the team play against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period of Wednesday's preseason game. Richardson plans to be hands on with his team. Associated Press

 
Kyle Leverone
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/29/2022 6:56 PM

On Monday, a day before the Blackhawks opened up the preseason against the St. Louis Blues, head coach Luke Richardson walked into the media room with a giant metal bucket.

He reached in and pulled out cans of the new Goose Island Blackhawks Pale Ale and passed them out to writers.

 

It could be an invitation to drink the season away, forgetting about a possible impending dud.

But really it feels like just another attempt by Richardson to achieve a main goal of his this season: creating cohesion.

Be it with the media, front office, fans, or his own players, creating cohesion this year is essential within an organization that is going through a serious rebuilding process.

General manager Kyle Davidson is new, and is tasked with attempting to restore this team to its early 2010s glory. The two stars on the team, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, are still here, but may not be by the trade deadline.

The story of this year's Blackhawks team has already been told. It's a year of conflict between winning and the bigger picture. It's a year of calamity after possessing a possible playoff roster in the beginning of last season.

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But in order for cohesion to seep through the organization's bloodstream, Richardson believes that it starts with him.

And that's why he does conditioning drills with the team on the ice.

"I mean it's just part of leading by example," Richardson said after participating in a crossover conditioning drill last Friday. "I think it just shows that the coaches are with them and we're together in this journey doing the same thing."

Every time Richardson has spoken since the beginning of training camp, he has made some sort of note about just that -- being there with his guys.

"I think myself and all the coaches," Richardson said. "We have a personality that we want to get into the dressing room and walk through and not just sit in our coaches' offices and create those relationships. Even skating around before and after practice, talking to guys about certain drills, plays in games from the night before, etc. I think that's huge. I think we have to spend time."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Richardson was asked about the coaches and players he had encountered in his career that were good at keeping morale high even when things were untoward.

He mentioned a couple of former teammates.

He talked about Wendel Clark, who was one of those lead-by-example guys. "He didn't say a lot in the dressing room," Richardson said. "But you knew by the heart that he played with, you'd look like a fool if you didn't play as hard as him."

He mentioned Kevin Lowe, who was apparently quiet and levelheaded. But when necessary, he'd light the proverbial fire under your butt. Richardson remembered losing to San Jose in their first year in the league, and Lowe let it rip. Literally.

"He tore the whole roof out of the hallway," Richardson said. "(There) was a light hanging, and there was dust, and I didn't know where I was going."

He also mentioned the late Bryan Murray whom Richardson played under. "(Murray) went in and talked to the players, and he didn't yell and scream," Richardson said, "but he made good points, and he made you realize, we're not here very long. It's a special place to be as a professional athlete or to be involved in professional sports, and your life span isn't very long."

Somewhere in the middle lies Luke Richardson. Somewhere between quiet, lead-by-example, players' coach, and light hanging from the ceiling.

He is well aware of what's going on this season, and he knows that this team may struggle, and it's all for the greater good.

And with this recognition, he is able to see this year for what it actually is: one step in the right direction -- all together.

"The success for this team might be a different meaning for us and fans and you guys," Richardson said to the media on that last Wednesday before camp. "But I think as long as it's trickling upward, an upward trend, and the downward trends are really nipped in the bud early and turned around quickly, I think those are the signs of a team growing."

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