Getting to Know New Blackhawks Head Coach Luke Richardson
With news on Friday that the Blackhawks are hiring Luke Richardson as their new permanent head coach, we did some digging to get to know more about the man who will be calling the shots behind the bench in Chicago moving forward.
There’s a lot to like, and he clearly did a great job impressing the Blackhawks’ front office during the interview process.
As a player
One thing we immediately take away from the back of Richardson’s hockey card that will be important in his role as the Blackhawks’ new head coach is the start of his NHL career. Richardson was the seventh overall pick in the 1987 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next pick was Chicago selecting Jimmy Waite, who is currently the Hawks’ goaltending coach.
Being a high pick in a big hockey market like Toronto will help Richardson guide players like Kirby Dach, Lukas Reichel and the presumed high picks the Blackhawks will have in the next couple drafts.
Richardson was also a physical defenseman during his time in the league; he piled up 2,055 penalty minutes in 1,417 regular-season games. He’s worked with a wide range of defensemen as a coach in the league, but more than 1,400 games in the NHL is a long resume for anyone.
He also played with current Chicago associate general manager Norm Maciver for the Edmonton Oilers during the 1991-92 season.
As a coach
As we noted previously, Richardson has been an NHL assistant coach for eight years with Ottawa (three), the Islanders (one) and Montreal (the last four seasons). He was also the head coach of the Senators’ AHL affiliate from 2012-13 through 2015-16 and led Canada to the Spengler Cup in 2016-17.
Looking deeper into some of his more recent work behind the bench in Montreal, where he’s worked under three head coaches — Claude Julien, Dominique Ducharme and Martin St. Louis — we can draw some notes from comments he has made and players have said about him as a coach.
Richardson was pressed into action as the acting head coach for Game Three of the 2021 Stanley Cup semifinal against the Vegas Golden Knights when then-Canadiens head coach Dom Ducharme tested positive for COVID. After the game, the media asked Eric Staal and Nick Suzuki about his demeanor behind the bench. Montreal won that game in overtime.
Staal noted a calm approach from Richardson. “Credit to them for preparing us the right way and then being cool and calm on the bench, making sure we had the right people on at the right times.”
Suzuki was asked specifically what he (as a forward) had learned from Richardson, whose role was primarily working with defensemen on the team. He said the most work he got with Richardson was on PK, but that he learned a lot from the assistant coach.
During that postseason, Richardson spoke about his learning curve as a coach.
A couple other good videos with Richardson have him speaking about the development of a couple players as leaders on and off the ice. In the first he speaks about Suzuki.
In this second clip he talks about Brendan Gallagher.
Here, Richardson talks about young players on the Habs’ roster showing maturity during the 2021 postseason.
The most significant and important thing to know about Luke Richardson — as a player, coach or person — is that he’s dedicated. You hear it from the players he’s worked and played with, and you see it in his tireless work in support of mental health initiatives.
In 2010, Richardson’s daughter, Daron, took her own life at age 14. Brian Compton wrote a terrific story about the Richardson family in 2018 and the work Luke was doing while an assistant with the Islanders to help grow awareness of mental health issues. Please read it.
Richardson also spoke about the loss and the birth of their Do It For Daron Foundation in this powerful piece produced by the Canadiens.
Also, please follow Do It For Daron on Twitter to learn more about the great work they’re doing. Mental health is such a vital subject that we cannot take for granted.