Blackhawks notebook: Rocky Wirtz avoids controversy at Kyle Davidson introduction

Plus, Davidson said Derek King will be a candidate for the coaching job, and Jonathan Toews led an influx of players who returned to practice.

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Rocky Wirtz (far left) avoided overshadowing Kyle Davidson (second from right) at Tuesday’s press conference.

Rocky Wirtz (far left) avoided overshadowing Kyle Davidson (second from right) at Tuesday’s press conference.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

In his first public appearance since his alarming tone-deaf rant during the Blackhawks’ now-infamous January town hall, Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz laid much lower Tuesday at general manager Kyle Davidson’s introductory news conference.

Rocky Wirtz spoke just once, joking about his input in the GM search — “They asked me for my two cents and I gave them a dollar’s worth of advice,” he said — before backing Davidson.

“I appreciate the process they went through,” Rocky Wirtz added. “It was laborious, but it was the right process. If any of you have ever gone through a process of hiring an internal candidate, the cards are generally stacked against you. But I was quite proud of how Danny [Wirtz] and everyone had gone through the process, so I was 110% supportive of Kyle. And I’m excited about today and excited about the future of the Blackhawks.”

That Rocky Wirtz’s surprising appearance didn’t overshadow Davidson or produce any new controversy is a significant victory for the Hawks, who desperately need — from a public relations standpoint — him to stay out of the news as much as possible for a while.

Candidate King

Davidson confirmed Tuesday that interim coach Derek King will be a candidate for the permanent coaching role moving forward, which is expected to be determined this offseason.

“Derek is going to be part of that process,” Davidson said, adding that King has done a “fantastic job” with “lightening the mood.”

“He’s getting a firsthand, practical interview, just like I got in my role. That’s an advantage, and he’s doing very well in that position. The one thing I’ll look for in the next coach, whether it’s Derek or someone else, is an elite communicator.”

King probably won’t enter the coaching search as a frontrunner like Davidson was entering the GM search, though.

Toews clears protocol

Jonathan Toews has officially cleared concussion protocol just over a month after suffering his concussion, King said Tuesday.

King said the “game plan” is for four players — Toews, Tyler Johnson (disc replacement surgery), Riley Stillman (shoulder injury) and Calvin de Haan (groin injury) — to all return to the Hawks’ lineup Thursday against the Oilers.

All four participated in team practice Tuesday, with Toews, Johnson and Alex DeBrincat forming a new forward line.

“It opens up everything,” King said. “The lines are better looking on paper. It’s always nice, when you’re going into a match, [when] you’re not [saying], ‘Who do I have?’ The magnets are [not] going all over the place.”

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