The Blackhawks are expected to name Luke Richardson their 40th head coach in franchise history, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Chicagowith the announcement likely early next week.
Here are some points about Richardson’s background, what kind of coach he is and his leadership style:
Richardson, 53, has been an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens for the past four seasons and also served as interim head coach for six playoff games last season after Dominique Ducharme was placed on COVID-19 protocol. He was also an assistant to the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators, head coach for AHL’s Binghamton Senators for four seasons, and head coach for the team that won Team Canada’s gold medal in the 2016 Spengler Cup.
Richardson was drafted by Toronto in 1987 as No. 7 overall and played 21 seasons in the NHL as a defenseman with six different teams (Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Columbus, Tampa Bay and Ottawa). Appearing in 1,417 regular-season and 69 post-season games, he was known as a physical, stay-at-home defender.
Fun fact: Richardson played his first NHL career game at the old Chicago Stadium, and he called it “Probably the best sports experience I think anyone could ever have.”
“It’s so loud, from the first note of the national anthem,” Richardson continued. “There were 21,000 people screaming as they played the national anthem on the organ. My ears were hissing and they were always looking at the rookies, so I just got chills. It was pretty exciting. We won that game, but because of that experience for my first NHL game – I don’t know if you could have a better one.”
Richardson is highly respected in hockey circles. He calls himself “a quiet person”, but was very serious about his preparation for the game as a player and that has been reflected in his coaching career. Sometimes his teammates called him “Luke Serious,” a nickname Jonathan Toews liked.
In an article by Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette, players and coaches raved about Richardson’s calming influence and leadership style. Below are just a few recent examples.
Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis on Richardson: “Luke is just a calm and calculated and very confident coach. The calmness of his approach allows the boys to grow and Luke’s approach allows the boys to feel confident on the ice … receptive to constructive criticism because of the way he does it It’s very important that they don’t feel stifled when there’s correction They don’t feel captivated when there’s correction and I think that’s important for their growth. “
Veteran defenseman Ben Chiarot on Richardson: “He’s pretty much identical to what I’ve been trying to emulate in my career. A guy who played for a long time, played a hard, nasty style. A leader. So he’s pretty much exactly what I’m trying to do to do with my career I couldn’t have a better man to work with every day He’s great Not only that but he’s also a great guy off the ice All the guys love him I said this before… guys went through a wall for him – especially the D’s he works with every day. He’s a character guy we all love.”
Veteran defenseman Chris Wideman on Richardson: “He’s one of the professional coaches I’ve had with whom I had a great personal relationship. I think especially early in my career, the first few years of being the pro, he was a man “He’s been in the NHL for a long time. But the way he carries himself off the ice is someone you can kind of model your life after. He’s a good man and he takes his job very seriously.”
Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said on the final pregame show of the season that he plans to keep the permanent coach here for the long haul, dismissing the possible idea that Chicago is looking for a short-term solution. The goal is for the bank boss to be around for the Reconstruction years and also when the Blackhawks are competitive again.
“We want someone to come in and grow with the team,” said Davidson. “We don’t want a stopgap solution. We’re looking for someone who will be a part of this for a long time.”
Richardson will be that guy.
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