With 15 days until the marquee event of the NHL summer, the Blackhawks find themselves among a select group without a boss behind the bench. This situation should not be concerning for Hawks fans, but the clock is ticking. The NHL has always tended to be the league of recycled coaches. It is too common to see someone fired after a poor tenure, only to be hired by another franchise soon. Thankfully it sounds like Chicago is straying from this norm.
A report from NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis confirms that Kyle Davidson is not looking to fill a position.
“They’re also planning for the permanent head coach to be a long-term fit, not just a stopgap during the rebuild.”
Suitable Candidates For The Head Coaching Position of The Blackhawks
As of June 22nd, the 2022 Jack Adams finalist is now known as the former head coach of the Florida Panthers.
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Paul Maurice is going into FLA…replacing Andrew Brunette
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 22, 2022
The former Blackhawk found himself at the helm of the Panthers team after Joel Quenneville was relieved of his duties following the Kyle Beach scandal.
Bruno grabbed the opportunity by the collar and guided his squad to a President’s Trophy while also breaking a salary cap era record for most goals in a season with 337.
The news is fresh, but expect Kyle Davidson to give Brunette a call. He is familiar with the organization and still ties to current roster players.
In the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Montreal Canadiens briefly found themselves without a head coach after Dominique Ducharme contracted Covid-19. However, with Ducharme out, Luke Richardson performed through adversity and led the Habs to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1993.
This impressive feat caught the eye of many teams last summer, including the Blackhawks.
Coaching updates, per sources:
> #Blackhawks have sought permission to intvw #GoHabsGo Luke Richardson & #Canucks Brad Shaw. Derek King still a strong candidate.
> David Quinn intvw'ing w #LGRW & #Flyers
> #Flyers intvw'd Jeff Blashill, believe Bruce Cassidy also on their list.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 9, 2022
Reports indicate the Hawks interviewed Richardson on June 14th, so it’s likely to think he is higher on their list. His revitalization of the 2021 Canadien’s defensive scheme could be exactly what the organization is looking for.
He has spent eight years as an assistant with the Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens. He also had a 4-year head coaching stint with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators.
Richardson has a phenomenal opportunity to snag his first head coaching job with a team that needs dire assistance on the defensive end.
With 17 years of coaching experience and only one of those years coming as a head, Brad Shaw is on the radar with more experience than any other candidate mentioned.
Shaw is currently an assistant with the Vancouver Canucks and is most known for his work on defense.
He served nine years as an assistant with the St. Louis Blues from 2007-2016, leading elite defensemen such as Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, and more. Former Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock provided some great insight into how Shaw runs his teams:
“Brad has a great read on the connection to proper team play, where all the players need to be in sync with each other. He has an understanding of what it takes for a team to have consistent success over the long haul.”
He fits the bill as the type of leader this organization can count on during a rebuild and beyond.
On Monday, June 20th, a tweet was sent out by current ESPN analyst Kevin Weekes saying the Hawks had hired current Flames Assistant Coach Ryan Huska.
Shortly after, Weekes corrected himself by saying that the process was fluid, and Huska was not given the position. Multiple Chicago-based reporters confirmed that Huska had not been given the job but is still interviewing.
Per my last tweet, been in touch with people close to the @NHLBlackhawks HC process, as I’m told “situation remains fluid, working towards hiring new HC.” Will keep you great @NHL Fans posted as we hear more. @espn @StanleyCup #HockeyTwitter pic.twitter.com/I543T1782u
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) June 20, 2022
Although confusing, this development hints toward Huska being among the candidates for the job.
As stated before, Huska spent the last four years as an Assistant for the Calgary Flames. Most recently serving under the 2022 Jack Adams award winner Darryl Sutter. Before that, he spent four years as a head coach in the AHL for the Stockton Heat, seven years as a head coach in the WHL with Kelowna, and four as an assistant.
Huska has the track record the Blackhawks are searching for. So it would only be fitting that the organization that drafted him back in 1993 gave him his first shot at leading a team.
Chicago’s Coaching Questions Have To Be Answered Soon
There are many more outside candidates, but Derek King still has the opportunity to elevate his interim status to full-time. He has developed relationships with players and knows the Hawks locker room better than any other candidate. He was a breath of fresh air who wore his heart on his sleeve throughout the season, proving he was a suitable leader.
Kyle Davidson is on track to know who his guy will be. We are nearing a vital part of the summer so expect a hire within the next few weeks. He needs a leader for when the draft takes place. Otherwise, there should be a cause for concern.
Like most issues facing the Blackhawks this summer, only time will give us the answer as to who it will be.