There’s not much that we know for sure about the current GM search for the Blackhawks. We know the process is starting now ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. We know there will be a “town hall” event on February 2 to give us more details on the search and direction of the club. We know that the team will interview current interim GM Kyle Davidson, and that the search is not limited to just people within the hockey world.
What we don’t know, and maybe won’t know until the final interviews are done, is whom Chicago has on their list to interview for the position outside of Davidson. But one name the Blackhawks *should* most definitely have on their list is Mathieu Darche.
After being in the running for the open GM positions with the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks, Darche is on the verge of being a GM somewhere in the NHL. As Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic mentions, Darche should absolutely be in the running in Chicago.
It stands to reason if you’re an NHL organization interviewing GM candidates you probably want a chance to look under the hood and get a glimpse of that operation in Tampa which has won back-to-back Stanley Cups. And has a chance to three-peat.
But it also sounds like Darche is leaving an impression beyond that.
Darche was not part of Anaheim’s first group of interviews, according to sources, but I would be surprised if he didn’t get a call from Chicago now that the Blackhawks have announced they are beginning their GM search process (interim Hawks GM Kyle Davidson is a legit candidate in that process).
Darche is a former AHL All-Star in 2007 and Calder Cup Champion with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2004. He played 12 professional seasons of hockey, 11 in North America with 802 games played between the NHL and AHL in his playing career. In May of 2019, he became the Director of Hockey Operations and Assistant GM with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In his time with Tampa Bay, the Lightning have won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Not too shabby.
Although he had little to do with the build-up of the Lightning, he’s managed the club on the Hockey Operations side through two successful Stanley Cup runs under GM Julien BriseBois, which is nothing to scoff at. Clearly having been in the middle of two GM searches already this year, there is belief in Darche to be the next big GM hire somewhere in the NHL, and it’s clear to BriseBois that he may not have Darche around much longer.
If given the chance to run his own program somewhere, I’m sure he’s going to do great for the same reason I know he would do great in the role I have for him. His leadership skills, his people skills, his expertise in the game of hockey and management in general make him a really strong candidate for leadership positions in any organization, particularly the NHL.
Chicago reportedly wants to have their GM search done in the next two-to-three weeks, and their absolute target date set by CEO Danny Wirtz is the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21. Even with the idea that they want to bring the front office into a “new age” configuration and go “outside of the box” with their search, going with an outside hire but with the hockey pedigree of Darche makes a lot of sense to me for this Chicago team. Give someone like him, who has been around a lot of winning in the past two+ seasons, a chance to put his own spin on a team in desperate need for a new direction.