New Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson spoke to the media after the final day of Development Camp wrapped up with a scrimmage between the prospects. It was a perfect ending for Richardson, who said he was just happy to get back to hockey this week after a whirlwind last month that included him landing his first NHL head-coaching gig in Chicago.
“It’s been lots of going for me in the last few weeks. This is great. This is what we live for, hockey. It was great to see the young players putting in a great effort this week, for me to get here and start meeting staff in the organization and diving right into the hockey feel, instead of just the ‘Hello’s and ‘Welcome’s.”
Among those ‘Hello’s and Welcome’s” since Richardson took the job were conversations with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, whom Richardson said today he has spoken to plenty in the recent weeks and days. With no trades seeming imminent, Kane and Toews will be sticking around for the start of the season. And Richardson said they sound ready to go based on his conversations with them.
“They seemed good to go and really excited about having an open communication. But also they’re driven, they said they’re driven to get their game and the team’s game on course to where we can have some success as much as possible this year.”
Kane has made it clear that he wants to compete sooner than later, and while the Blackhawks don’t exactly fit that description after their draft night trades. Still, Richardson believes the rebuilding Blackhawks can have some success with the help of Kane and Toews this season.
As far as who else will be on the ice with Kane and Toews to open the season, Richardson has his work cut out for him even after the Blackhawks made a handful of signings during the first 24 hours of free agency.
“I think free agency definitely helped,” Davidson said regarding filling out the Blackhawks’ opening night roster. “Adding some speed up front is really huge. Obviously, I’m just excited to get going, but I think we’re going to have to sit down and see where the direction of some of the young guys are and the direction of the summer. Things might change by training camp. People might surprise you, or there are always injuries you have to be aware of and be ready to plug holes there, too, to make some adjustments on that.”
Max Domi is one of the additions to the roster that Richardson talked about today. The Blackhawks signed Domi on Wednesday to a one-year, $3 million deal. Domi, 27, has spent eight seasons in the NHL with Arizona, Montreal, Columbus, and most recently, Carolina.
“You know, Max has got some great speed and good vision and sees the ice well. You know, I definitely want him to bring that speed here. I would definitely like to see him shoot the puck a little more. Sometimes he doesn’t shoot that puck, he’s almost too unselfish, and he wants to make plays for other people, where sometimes you’ve got to shoot that puck to make people honor you, so then that opens up other people to make those plays That’s something that we will talk about.
“But Max is an energetic guy. He’ll feed off the exciting electricity of the crowd here in Chicago and the city. Like, that’s where he flourishes. You saw him in junior. He did it in London and the world juniors. He was probably one of the best players in the tournament, if not. And his first year in Montreal, the exciting Saturday nights on Hockey Night in Canada in Montreal, you know, he lives for that. So, he’s not afraid of having any kind of spotlight or expectations because he’s growing up in a pro lifestyle with his dad [Ty Domi] obviously playing, and I think that’s going to help him come to a market like this and do really well.”
Domi, who has logged 20 or more assists in all but two of his NHL campaigns is a candidate to center Patrick Kane’s top line come opening night.
While it’s nice that Richardson has established a line of communication with Kane and Toews, and they sound ready to contribute to the Blackhawks this season, the ultimate success for the Blackhawks is finishing so poorly that they have a chance to draft a franchise-altering talent like Connor Bedard next summer. That means that no matter how peachy things are right now, the desire for success on the part of Kane and Toews still leaves a giant cloud of uncertainty hanging over their tenures here in Chicago.