Luke Richardson is going to be the new head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The 53-year-old Richardson becomes the 40th coach in franchise history. It is his first NHL head coaching job as he replaces Derek King, who completed the 2021-22 season as interim head coach. King took over after Jeremy Colliton was fired in November following a 1-9-2 start to the season where the was not even remotely competitive and never looked ready to play at the start of games.
“We are excited having a seasoned coach like Luke join the organization as head coach,” said Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson. “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. 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.”
Richardson has been an assistant coach for the Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens in recent seasons, and served one game as head coach for the Canadiens during the 2020-21 Stanley Cup Final when Dominque Ducharme was sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols.
He also worked for four seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Binghamton Senators between the 2012-13 and 2015-16 seasons.
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Prior to his coaching career Richardson played more than 1,400 games in the NHL as a defenseman with the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, and Tampa Bay Lighting, scoring 35 career goals, 166 assists, and 201 points. He also appeared in 69 career playoff games with the Flyers, Maple Leafs, and Oilers.
As for the task at hand, this is going to be a challenge in the short-term for Richardson and the Blackhawks.
The team is not only coming off a brutal 2021-22 performance that was among the worst in the league, but the team is clearly diving head first into a massive rebuilding phase that is probably going to strip the roster even further. There is a possibility that Alex DeBrincat could be traded this summer, while the futures of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews remain in doubt as both players enter the final year of their contracts.
Even if all three are back for this season the roster is so thin elsewhere that competing seems like nothing more than a dream. If one, two, or even all three are traded at some point there is not going to be anything resembling an impact player on the roster. It is not exactly an ideal situation for a new coach, especially a first-time coach. A lot of patience is going to be required here now. Not only from Blackhawks fans, but from Richardson himself.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.