In surprise move, Blackhawks announce Reichel assigned to Rockford
The Blackhawks announced Tuesday morning that Lukas Reichel has been assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
And that was a surprise to most, seeing as Reichel could easily be considered one of the top 12 or 13 offensive players within the organization.
Last year, he put up 57 points in 56 games in Rockford.
But head coach Luke Richardson, who says he is relying on general manager Kyle Davidson to guide the decision, says Reichel isn't a top-two NHL liner yet.
"There were some signs that showed a lot of progression from last year," Richardson said. "I wasn't here last year, but that's what the message was to him. He feels more comfortable, (but) there were a couple instances that I talked to him about where he turned the puck over."
Reichel had three stints with the Hawks last season in January, February and April.
If Reichel were to be with the big-league squad, he'd be fighting for a fourth-line role -- but a fourth-line grinder isn't Reichel's game, nor is it the type of game the Hawks want Reichel to play.
Instead of Reichel battling for that spot, Richardson said, "why not go down and be the best center down there? Work on your game ... light it up down there. So when you get a chance here, you're firing on all cylinders and you'll show your best."
Old teammates, new linemates:
Richardson tried out some new lines Tuesday morning, including captain Jonathan Toews and longtime teammate Patrick Kane on the first line with Tyler Johnson. The head coach said he's just working out some things, and the preseason's the perfect time to do it.
Toews said he and Kane work together well because they've played with each other for so long and know how to support each other.
"We'll be like a grumpy old couple probably bickering at each other on the bench," Toews said. "I've just got to make sure I win all my draws out there, or else I'm going to hear it from him."
More roster moves:
In addition to Reichel, Cole Guttman, Michal Teply, Josiah Slavin and Isaak Phillips were assigned to Rockford, as were David Gust and Kale Howarth who have been released from their PTOs.
Richardson said Guttman had a "great rookie camp for his first pro camp out of college," and that Phillips is a really nice guy.
Maybe a little too nice.
"Just having a little switch coming to the rink," said Richardson about what Phillips need to work on, "and being a little bit harder, little bit meaner."