Blackhawks’ coach hiring checks off first box of long offseason to-do list

Luke Richardson was officially announced as the Hawks’ new coach Monday, allowing general manager Kyle Davidson to turn his attention toward trades, contract negotiations and the NHL Draft next week.

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Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson.

Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson can turn toward trades, contract negotiations and the draft after hiring Luke Richardson as the Hawks’ new coach Monday.

Chicago Blackhawks

Three days after his hiring was widely reported, Luke Richardson was officially named the Blackhawks’ new head coach Monday.

“I am honored to be trusted with this opportunity to coach an Original Six franchise like the Chicago Blackhawks,” Richardson said in a statement. “Together, we will work to direct the team on a journey that we believe will achieve success. Clear communication, a plan, hard work and execution will lead us to that success.

“I plan to create an environment of trust with our team. With trust, relationships will form and grow, thus allowing everyone to blossom and execute their role. My philosophy is to be better today than we were yesterday, and to achieve that, we will need commitment and consistency.”

General manager Kyle Davidson wrote in an email to fans that the Hawks’ coaching search sought a person with several specific characteristics: high character, a strong understanding of the modern game and experience both developing young players and working with veteran players.

“We feel we have found all of that and more with Luke,” Davidson wrote in the email. “He shares our vision; he knows the way we want to play and the type of players we want on our team. We look forward to him building an environment and culture within our team that will help develop talent within our system to win consistently.”

Richardson, who comes to Chicago after four years as a Canadiens assistant, and Davidson hopefully will deliver less canned comments and updates at an introductory news conference Wednesday. Richardson then will make his first on-ice appearances during development camp from July 11 to 15 at Fifth Third Arena, which more than 35 Hawks prospects are expected to attend.

Davidson now can check off the first box of his lengthy offseason to-do list — hire a coach — and turn toward the lengthy list of items beneath it.

After all, very little has yet been set in stone when it comes to the actual team Richardson will coach next season.

The Hawks still have five notable restricted free agents — Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, Kirby Dach, Philipp Kurashev and Caleb Jones — to, first, decide if they want to bring back and, second, negotiate new contracts with.

They still have zero NHL goalies under contract, with both Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia being pending unrestricted free agents. They still don’t know what Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews want their futures to look like. And they still haven’t made any trades, despite rampant rumors regarding Alex DeBrincat and several defensemen (Connor Murphy, Jake McCabe, even Riley Stillman) who also conceivably couldbe shopped this summer.

Draft week in Montreal next week could be an explosive period for trades all around the league, with GMs and executives gathered in-person for the draft for the first time since 2019. It’ll be a big test for Davidson, as a rookie GM, to extract the most value possible for his trade bait — while also overseeing the Hawks’ actual drafting.

The following week will be just as eventful, too, with free agency opening July 13 (during development camp) and more trade negotiations inevitable also during that period. Richardson’s hiring realistically marks just the beginning of a busy and crucial stretch for the Hawks’ organization.

NOTES: No Hawks players received any votes for any of the NHL’s major awards for 2021-22, but Patrick Kane did finish fourth among right wings in end-of-year All-Star Team voting. Maple Leafs right wing Mitch Marner and Flames right wing Matthew Tkachuk finished first and second, respectively.

• The Avalanche’s Stanley Cup title Sunday made Northbrook native J.T. Compher and Hinsdale native Josh Manson the seventh and eighth Illinoisans to ever win the Cup, joining Chris Chelios, Eddie Olczyk, Lee Fogolin, Harry Mummery, Blake Sloan and Brett Lebda.

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