Luke Richardson Leading Impressive Group of Rookie Head Coaches

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Luke Richardson Leading Impressive Group of Rookie Head Coaches

Chicago Blackhawks

At the start of the 2022-23 NHL season, nine other teams were in a similar boat as the Blackhawks. In a summer with as much turnover as we’ve ever seen in head coaching roles, this year began with ten guys in new lead roles — almost one-third of the league was starting with a fresh voice behind the bench.

Thanksgiving in the US is a benchmark for when teams really begin assessing their playoff chances, and that’s two weeks from today’s Blackhawks game against the Kings. So looking around the league today gives us some good early season perspective on how those coaches are doing in their new jobs.

And it’s really pretty impressive when you take a step back and compare this year’s records against the teams’ performances in the same number of games last season.

Here are the ten new head coaches and their team records now compared to where they were a year ago:

  • Chicago Blackhawks — Luke Richardson

2021-22 Record: 1-9-2 (4 points)
2022-23 Record: 5-5-2 (12 points) — +8 points

  • New York Islanders — Lane Lambert

2021-22 Record: 5-7-2 (12 points)
2022-23 Record: 9-5-0 (18 points) — +6 points

  • Vegas Golden Knights — Bruce Cassidy

2021-22 Record: 8-6-0 (16 points)
2022-23 Record: 12-2-0 (24 points) — +8 points

  • Philadelphia Flyers — John Tortorella

2021-22 Record: 7-3-2 (16 points)
2022-23 Record: 7-3-2 (16 points) — even

  • Dallas Stars — Peter DeBoer

2021-22 Record: 5-6-2 (12 points)
2022-23 Record: 8-4-1 (17 points) — +5 points

  • Florida Panthers — Paul Maurice

2021-22 Record: 10-2-2 (22 points)
2022-23 Record: 8-5-1 (15 points) — –7 points

  • Boston Bruins — Jim Montgomery

2021-22 Record: 8-5-0 (16 points)
2022-23 Record: 11-2-0 (22 points) — +6 points

  • Detroit Red Wings — Derek Lalonde

2021-22 Record: 6-5-2 (14 points)
2022-23 Record: 7-3-3 (17 points) — +3 points

  • Winnipeg Jets — Rick Bowness

2021-22 Record: 6-3-3 (15 points)
2022-23 Record: 8-3-1 (17 points) — +2 points

  • San Jose Sharks — David Quinn

2021-22 Record: 7-6-1 (15 points)
2022-23 Record: 3-8-3 (9 points) — -6 points

Seven of the ten teams with new head coaches have improved their team records through the same number of games played. Torts is break-even in Philly, though I submit they’ve massively exceeded expectations, while the Sharks and Panthers are worse. I will also note here that last year the Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record and were undefeated (7-0-0) when Joel Quenneville resigned as their head coach on Oct. 28.

What’s more, three of the four current division leaders — Vegas, Winnipeg and Boston — have new head coaches this season. Dallas, Detroit and the Islanders are currently in second place in their respective divisions. Florida has the same point total (17) as Detroit but the Wings have one game in-hand. So seven of the ten teams with new head coaches are in a playoff spot presently.

Of the ten teams with new head coaches, the one that has made the biggest difference in the standings has been Richardson, who has helped the Blackhawks improve by eight points in their first 12 games. Like Torts, expectations were extremely low in Chicago at the start of the season. Unlike most of the other teams on this list, Richardson has his team performing significantly better in the standings after a fire sale that removed a big part of last year’s Blackhawks’ offense from the lineup.

And yet the Blackhawks are in fourth place as they fly to LA.

So one month into the season, a salute to Luke Richardson. He came in with doubters lining up and columns being written about having absolutely no pressure to do anything all over the place and has changed the perception of this year’s Chicago Blackhawks.

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Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab