news world

What I’m hearing about the Blackhawks’ coaching search, Toews and Kane and more

(Editor’s note: This story was published before the news that the Blackhawks will hire Luke Richardson as their next head coach. Read more on Richardson here.)

All has been pretty quiet for the Blackhawks for some time.

That will soon change.

The Blackhawks are expected to hire their new NHL head coach in the next week. That will lead into the draft, where the Blackhawks could actively move roster players and acquire more draft picks and prospects. Free agency comes after that.

So, yeah, it should be much more interesting in the coming weeks.

The Blackhawks did share some news this week by announcing Meghan Hunter was promoted to assistant general manager of hockey operations, Brian Campbell will remain in hockey operations as an advisor, Karilyn Pilch was promoted to director of player personnel and Mark Eaton will remain in his position as assistant general manager of development.

Hunter and Campbell were expected to have larger roles under general manager Kyle Davidson because Davidson leaned on both while he was the interim general manager. Hunter is the fourth woman to become an assistant general manager in NHL history and follows Chicago-area native Cammi Granato, who was hired by the Vancouver Canucks in February. Hunter’s role will include overseeing budgeting, team services, contract execution, team security and player services. Although Campbell’s title may not seem grand, he is expected to still play a key role in Davidson’s inner circle.

The news release announcing the staff changes also included that the pro and amateur scouting departments will report to associate general manager Norm Maciver, and associate general manager Jeff Greenberg will oversee “the development of strategic systems and processes that will fuel the entire Hockey Operations group.”

It’ll be interesting to see what the Blackhawks do for hockey analytics going forward. They parted ways this past season with independent contractor Richard Coleman, whom Stan Bowman had used for many years to run analytics. That’s something that could fall under Greenberg’s role.

• We should know the Blackhawks’ new head coach sometime very soon. It’s expected to come down to Derek King, Luke Richardson and Brad Shaw.

• Richardson and Shaw’s backgrounds are somewhat like King’s. Richardson, who is 53, had a long NHL playing career, jumped into coaching quickly after playing and has been coaching ever since. He spent eight seasons with the Ottawa Senators. He was first an assistant NHL coach and then became their head AHL coach. He spent one season as an assistant with the New York Islanders and has been an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens for the past four seasons.

“Coaching-wise, he’s a teacher and a great human,” a league source said. “I love the guy.”

• Shaw, who is 58, also had a long NHL career before immediately jumping into coaching. He’s been an AHL head coach and a long-time assistant coach. He was an assistant for the Vancouver Canucks last season and previously was with the Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues for long stretches.

• One common attribute among the Blackhawks’ coaching candidates is they’re all very well-liked around the league. In talking to numerous people who know Richardson and Brad Shaw, who was also considered for the position, everyone just raved about them as people. That was how people described King, too.

That’s not surprising considering how rough the upcoming years, especially next season, could be and how the Blackhawks probably need to bring someone in with the right temperament for that.

• The Blackhawks weren’t believed to pursue any of the major names that hit the coaching market in recent months. That was expected considering the goal is to largely lose next season and they didn’t see any point in bringing in a proven NHL head coach to potentially slightly improve that trajectory. It is also believed the Blackhawks’ next head coach will be on the lower end of the league’s coaching salaries.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews aren’t expected to be traded anytime soon. Of course, that can all change if they begin feeling differently after some more rebuilding-type moves, but as of now, Kane and Toews are expected to be on the Blackhawks’ season-opening roster.

The other part of that is if Kane and Toews want out, they’re likely going to have to be the ones who approach Davidson for a trade. It won’t be the other way around.

“The Blackhawks are going to treat them with class,” a source familiar with the situation said. “They’re not going to kick them out.”

• The Blackhawks re-signing Kane and Toews hasn’t been ruled out either. Just don’t expect it to happen this summer when they can begin negotiating a new contract. All sides will be waiting to see how things go this season.

• Even if Kane and Toews are still Blackhawks after this summer, it’s possible a number of other current players won’t be.

As one Western Conference executive recently said, “The Blackhawks are open to trading anyone except for Kane and Toews.”

Kane, Toews and Seth Jones are believed to be the players the Blackhawks aren’t looking to move. All three do happen to have no-movement clauses, too.

• There’s no absolute the Blackhawks will trade Alex DeBrincat this summer, but it remains a possibility.

The Seattle Kraken could be one potential destination. The Kraken have the fourth overall pick in the 2022 draft.

“They definitely want to get better soon,” a league source said of the Kraken.

• The injury Caleb Jones suffered at the World Championship wasn’t serious and he is expected to re-sign with the Blackhawks this offseason. He’s a restricted free agent.

• It’d be surprising if the Blackhawks didn’t bring back Anders Sorensen as the Rockford IceHogs head coach. It sounds as if the Blackhawks were really pleased with how he developed players this season and got more than expected out of the entire group.

(Photo: Chase Agnello-Dean / NHLI via Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button