The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t wait long after the 2022 Stanley Cup was awarded to celebrate news of their own. In fact, they began to roll some pretty significant communications as the Final was still underway. Whether those that the franchise has welcomed into new roles will help this team propel to greater heights next season is yet to be seen, but it has to at least provide some sense of relief to this fanbase that management is influencing important moves.
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In this edition of Blackhawks News & Rumours, a new bench boss encourages a much-needed confidence boost as those that will oversee his efforts are more effectively aligned.
Richardson Named New Blackhawks Coach
After a news cycle that included more potential coaches than most would have anticipated were up for the position in Chicago, the Blackhawks have officially announced their newest hire — Luke Richardson.
Richardson had been with the Montreal Canadiens organization in an assistant role since 2018-19. He made the most of an opportunity to steer their ship, during Montreal’s surprise run through the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Midway through the Conference Final, Richardson took over and the Canadiens went on to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights to earn their first Final appearance since 1993.
Unfortunately for the Canadiens, their ride came to an end at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. But that doesn’t overshadow the impact that Richardson was able to influence, nor does it negate his over 10 years of professional coaching experience.
Having held roles in both the NHL and American Hockey League (AHL), let alone given his 22 years of playing experience in the NHL, Richardson appears to be the perfect fit for instilling the type of work ethic, attention to detail, and commitment to development that Chicago’s rebuilding efforts will require.
Shaw Expresses Excitement for Richardson
Who better to provide such a passionate vote of confidence for Chicago’s new coach, than one of the franchise’s feistiest former players. Following the hire, Andrew Shaw was excited to point out the important balance that Richardson’s presence can elicit, as he reflected back on their time together with the Canadiens.
“From what I saw, our PK got better and I thought our defenseman, they played that strong, hard-nosed, hard-to-play-against style of hockey,” Shaw said. “He taught the young kids coming in how to how to defend and I thought that was huge for some of the younger defenseman coming in to be able to have a coach who’s played 1,400 plus games in the NHL, coached a bunch as well… Honestly, he was great to have. He was not quiet, but he just had that presence of, you know, people respected him. But he had fun with the guys too. He would joke around, which made the room a little lighter.”
As critical as it will be for the coaching staff to stay focused on progress in Chicago, being genuine and heartfelt in their approach will go a long way when it comes to fostering an environment that encourages more confident development.
Hearing a fan favourite and Stanley Cup winner proclaim how effective Richard’s leadership was, should be all that those who will now get to play under him need when it comes to fuelling their motivation in advance of next season.
Hunter & Eaton Round Out Davidson’s Team
With months of offseason work ahead of the organization, Kyle Davidson has already filled out the Hockey Operations team in Chicago. Mark Eaton remains in the same role, as Assistant General Manager, Development. While Meghan Hunter has been promoted to Assistant General Manager, Hockey Operations.
Eaton joined the Blackhawks in 2014 in a development role, after spending the 13 seasons playing in the NHL. He will oversee the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, as well as assess both amateur and professional player performances.
Following an extensive resume of experience from her playing days, which includes having been a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award finalist in 2001, Meaghan Hunter went on to work with both Hockey Canada and the London Knights before joining the Blackhawks organization in 2016.
Originally focused on operations and scouting, Hunter’s new role will now include overseeing budgeting, contracts, security, and team services. As only the fourth female to hold the role, Hunter continues to be a trailblazer that deserves the respect of hockey fans at large.
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Safe to say, the Blackhawks are doing all they can to put the right pieces in place in an effort to affect a more successful result in 2022-23. Although onlookers will have to wait to see how progressive it turns out to be, reflecting on the accolades of those now involved should allow for some much-needed enthusiasm in the meantime.