Blackhawks to hire Luke Richardson as new head coach

The Blackhawks have found the coach of their rebuild.

Luke Richardson, a Canadiens assistant for the past four years, was chosen Friday as the 40th head coach in Hawks franchise history.

He’s expected to sign a contract in the coming days, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported, although an official announcement and introduction is not expected until next week.

Richardson, 53, brings extensive experience as both a player and assistant coach in the NHL. He enjoyed a long career as a defenseman, logging 1,417 career games over 22 years with the Maple Leafs, Oilers, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Lightning and Senators.

He joined the Senators’ coaching staff upon his retirement in 2009 and has logged eight years as an NHL assistant and four years as an AHL head coach since, making intermediate stops in Binghamton (the Senators’ AHL affiliate) and with the Islanders before landing in 2018 in Montreal under Claude Julien.

But Richardson doesn’t bring any previous experience as an NHL head coach, unlike many of the bigger-name coaches that spun through the league’s coaching carousel this summer. That’s partially because some of those bigger-name coaches weren’t interested in a team just starting to rebuild, and partially because the Hawks wanted a fresh face to match the general theme of their rebuild.

Richardson’s hiring means that Derek King, who went 27-33-10 as the Hawks’ interim head coach for most of the 2021-22 season after taking over for Jeremy Colliton, won’t remain in that position.

Hawks general manager Kyle Davidson — who is 20 years younger than the coach who will now report to him — had already cleared out the coaching staff beneath the head position. Assistants Marc Crawford and Rob Cookson were fired shortly after the season ended. That’ll allow Richardson to bring in his own staff in the coming months.

“We want coaches that are able to communicate, able to drive a message and create a positive culture and [able to] get players to want to come to the rink and compete every single night,” Davidson said last month.

Before settling on Richardson, the Hawks reportedly also considered Canucks assistant Brad Shaw, Flames assistant Ryan Huska and Penguins assistant Todd Reirden –likely among others — for the job.

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