The Blackhawks are expected to name Luke Richardson their 40th head coach in franchise history, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago, with the announcement likely coming early next week.
Here are some bullet points on Richardson's background, what type 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 their interim head coach for six playoff games last season after Dominique Ducharme was placed in COVID-19 protocol. He's also been an assistant for the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators, head coach for AHL's Binghamton Senators for four seasons and head coach for Team Canada's gold-medal winning team in the 2016 Spengler Cup.
- Richardson was drafted No. 7 overall by Toronto in 1987 and played 21 seasons in the NHL as a defenseman with six different teams (Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Columbus, Tampa Bay and Ottawa). He appeared in 1,417 regular-season games and 69 postseason contests, and was known to be a physical, stay-at-home defenseman.
- Fun fact: Richardson played his first career NHL game at the old Chicago Stadium, and he called it "probably the best sports experience I think anybody could ever have."
"It’s so loud, from the first note of the National Anthem," Richardson continued. "There were 21,000 people there screaming when they played the National Anthem with the organ. My ears were ringing, and they always watched the rookies, so I just got chills. It was pretty exciting. We won that game but to have that experience for my first NHL game — I don’t know if you could have a better one."
- Richardson is very well-respected within hockey circles. He calls himself "a quiet person" but was very serious about his pre-game preparation as a player and that's carried into his coaching career. Sometimes his teammates would call him "Luke Serious," which is a nickname Jonathan Toews could appreciate.
- 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 guys to grow and Luke’s approach allows the guys to feel confident on the ice ... receptive to constructive criticism because the way he does it. It’s very important they don’t feel suffocated if there’s correction. They don’t feel handcuffed if there’s correction and I think that’s important in their growth."
Veteran defenseman Ben Chiarot on Richardson: "He’s pretty much identical to what I’m trying to mimic in my career. A guy who played a long time, played a hard, nasty style. A leader. So he’s pretty much exactly what I’m trying to do with my career. I couldn’t have a better guy to work with every single day. He’s great. Not only that, but he’s a great guy off the ice. All the guys love him. I’ve said this before ... guys would go through a wall for him — especially the Ds who he works with every single day. He’s a character guy that we all love."
Veteran defenseman Chris Wideman on Richardson: "He’s one of the pro coaches that I’ve had that I had a great personal relationship with. I think especially early in my career, first couple of years of pro, he’s a guy that played a long time in the NHL. But the way he carries himself off the ice is someone that you can kind of model your life after. He’s a good man and he takes his work very seriously."
Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said on the final pregame show of the season that he's planning for the permanent coach to be here for the long haul, which dismissed the potential idea that Chicago is looking for a short-term solution. The goal is for the bench boss to be around for the rebuilding years and also when the Blackhawks are competitive again.
"We want someone that's going to come in and grow with the team," Davidson said. "We don't want any stopgap options. We're looking to bring someone in that's going to come and be a part of this for a long time."
Richardson will be that guy.