CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks were one of the NHL’s worst teams last season, and their general manager is talking about a potentially long rebuilding process. They are listening to trade offers for their top goal scorer, and the situation at goaltender is murky at best.

Enter Luke Richardson.

“I like a challenge and I’m ready for it,” Richardson said.

The Blackhawks think so, too, and that’s why they hired Richardson as the 40th coach in franchise history. The former NHL defenseman takes over a team in transition under GM Kyle Davidson, one that has fallen on hard times since it won the franchise’s sixth Stanley Cup championship in 2015.

Davidson has made no secret of his plan to remake the roster, and Richardson acknowledged the difficult road ahead when he was formally introduced Wednesday at the team store in downtown Chicago. But he also showed off the competitive nature that helped fuel a 21-year NHL playing career.

“I just feel that playing experiences, coaching experiences, I’m totally comfortable with developing players, having patience with players,” he said, “but I think I said right from the start, I am an optimist and I feel like I want to go win every game, and I’m going to approach every game like that.”


Richardson, 53, played for six NHL teams, finishing with 35 goals and 166 assists in 1,417 games – including his debut with Toronto at Chicago Stadium on Oct. 8, 1987. He retired during the 2008-09 season and joined Ottawa’s coaching staff. He was the head coach for the Senators’ AHL affiliate from 2012 to 2016.

Richardson, who is from Ottawa, Ontario, was an assistant on Montreal’s coaching staff for the previous four seasons. When Dominique Ducharme was diagnosed with COVID-19 during the 2021 playoffs, Richardson took over as coach for six games and helped lead the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993.

Richardson flew into Chicago for his first interview a few weeks ago and then was brought back for a second session. Richardson went into more depth on some of the areas they covered during his first interview, and the discussions continued when they went to dinner and watched a Stanley Cup Final game.

While Chicago isn’t expected to contend next season, it will be one of the league’s most closely watched teams this summer. Captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each have one year left on their contracts after the Blackhawks went 28-42-12 this year.

Toews and Kane – still one of the league’s most dynamic players at age 33 – have no-movement clauses, making a trade unlikely unless one of the longtime stars asks for a change in scenery. But the 24-year-old DeBrincat, who scored a team-high 41 goals last season, could be on the move, and the departure of the winger could prompt Kane or Toews to seek a new home.

KINGS-WILD: The Los Angeles Kings have acquired high-scoring forward Kevin Fiala from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for their first-round pick in the upcoming draft and prospect Brock Faber.


Fiala was one of the most attractive potential acquisitions in the NHL this summer after putting up career highs of 33 goals and 52 assists for the Wild last season. The left wing seems to be a perfect fit on the top line for the Kings, who ended their three-year playoff drought last spring despite scoring fewer goals than every postseason team except Dallas.

The Wild get the 19th overall pick in the draft along with Faber, the Kings’ second-round pick in 2020 and a star defenseman at the University of Minnesota.

AVS: Nazem Kadri will be jubilantly waving to the fans at the parade Thursday through the streets of Denver.

Possibly waving goodbye, too.

Some tough decisions loom for the Colorado Avalanche after dethroning the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final.

As the players party and mingle with the fans in the Mile High City to celebrate the franchise’s third Stanley Cup title, there’s this difficult reality: Quite a few of them may not get the opportunity to return and defend the crown. This could be their farewell.

The list of unrestricted free-agent players includes big-time contributors such as Kadri, Darcy Kuemper, Andrew Cogliano, Andre Burakovsky, Josh Manson and Valeri Nichushkin. There are also several restricted free agents like Artturi Lehkonen and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

It will be a tall task for GM Joe Sakic to bring back everyone.

So they’ll soak up the good times on the parade route – one final memory in what’s been an epic season.

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