Luke Richardson is the new coach of Chicago’s NHL team, stepping into a tricky rebuilding process for one of the league’s marquee franchises.
General manager Kyle Davidson announced the move on Monday. Richardson replaces Derek King, who finished the season as the interim coach after Jeremy Colliton was fired on Nov. 6.
“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,” Davidson said in a news release.
Richardson, 53, played for six teams during 21 years in the NHL, finishing with 35 goals and 201 points in 1,417 regular-season games. The defenceman was selected by Toronto with the No. 7 overall pick in the 1987 draft.
Richardson’s first NHL game was at Chicago Stadium on Oct. 8, 1987, a 7-5 Maple Leafs victory.
“I am honoured to be trusted with this opportunity to coach an Original Six franchise like the Chicago Blackhawks,” Richardson said in the team announcement.
“I plan to create an environment of trust with our team. With trust, relationships will form and grow, thus allowing everyone to blossom and execute their role. My philosophy is to be better today than we were yesterday and, to achieve that, we will need commitment and consistency.”
Helped guide Canadiens to 2021 Cup final
Richardson retired during the 2008-09 season and joined Ottawa’s coaching staff. He was the head coach for the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate from 2012 to 2016.
The Ottawa native was an assistant on Montreal’s coaching staff for the previous four seasons. When Dominique Ducharme was diagnosed with COVID-19 during the 2021 playoffs, Richardson took over as coach for six games and helped lead the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup final since 1993.
“I want to wish Luke all the best in his next professional chapter in Chicago,” Canadiens GM Kent Hughes said in a statement. “Luke was wholeheartedly committed to helping our group achieve success, and he played a significant role in recent years. We thank him for his work and dedication.”
Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, but it has fallen on hard times in recent years. It began this past season with playoff aspirations but stumbled to a 1-9-2 start on its way to a 28-42-12 record and seventh-place finish in the Central Division.
Longtime GM Stan Bowman resigned in October in the wake of a report by an outside law firm that found the organization mishandled allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010.
Davidson was elevated to the interim job before officially taking over on March 1. Norm Maciver joined the front office as an associate GM in March, and Jeff Greenberg was hired for the same role in April.
Richardson’s first team in Chicago could have a dramatic new look compared to the one that finished last season. There are major questions at goaltender and along the lines, which could lose as many as three high-profile stars if the team decides to trade Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews for more long-term assets.
But first up for Richardson likely will be his coaching staff. King, who coached the Blackhawks to a 27-33-10 record, is well-regarded within the organization and could stay on as an assistant.
Maple Leafs extend Liljegren’s deal
The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed defenceman Timothy Liljegren to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value of $1.4 million US.
The 23-year-old Swede had five goals and 23 points in 61 regular-season games this past season and appeared in two playoff games.
Drafted 17 overall in 2017, he has 24 points in 74 regular-season contests with the Maple Leafs.
Liljegren has made 148 regular-season appearances with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, putting up 73 points on 11 goals and 62 assists.