Luke Richardson will need to strike a delicate balance while training the Blackhawks through rebuilding

Kyle Davidson – the Blackhawks general manager he will conduct through the rebuild – will not have an easy job, but he will have a straightforward one. He will simply take steps that he believes will help the Hawks fight again in the future.

In contrast, Luke Richardson – as the Blackhawks’ soon named coach Through rebuilding – would be neither an easy nor straightforward task.

When the former Canadian assistant officially assumes his new duties in Chicago next week, he will address reporters and fans for the first time during the years to come. When training camp begins in September, he will address the possibility of players being ragtag teams for the first time even more.

Each time, Richardson would need to find and maintain a delicate balance between realism and optimism, between accountability and flexibility, and between transparency and subtlety.

To be fair, every NHL coach should do this occasionally—after a loss, a coach must balance honest criticism of his team’s mistakes with the loyal support of his players—but this kind of drastic rebuilding. The challenge will be especially difficult during

That’s because the organization’s on-ice objective, at least for 2022-23 and potentially 2023-24, will be tanking (to maximize their draft picks). Davidson obviously can’t tell, but he’s not the type to completely lie about it. As the person in charge, he doesn’t need it.

Behind the scenes, Richardson is of course informed of Davidson’s plans, and may continue to be part of the decision-making process. In the locker room and behind press-conference lectures, however, Richardson will be required to operate with significantly more care and nuance than Davidson.

He would spend every night trying to help the losing team win – and he would fail to do so most of the time.

He has to accept that losing is inevitable—but he will need to avoid losing or maintaining a culture that is lost.

And he will need to apply the same mindset without hurting the morale of his players or hindering their development, two things that are most important in the short term.

Really, it’s going to be complicated.

The well-worn hockey trope that “we have the people we need to be successful” won’t be usable. No one will talk about preseason playoff aspirations, no one talking about midseason being “one winning streak away”. Those clichés that often happened over the years would be laughable now.

Avoiding them would require real practicality about the position of the Hawks roster and just about every other tier they face in terms of talent, depth, experience, serious goalscoring deficiencies and the league’s true contenders.

But that pragmatism will need to prevent cursing or undermining the team or undermining the confidence of the players who make it up.

Eventually, it would defeat half the purpose of the reconstruction. Lukas Reichl, Taylor Radisch, and Philip Kurashev’s second line – or whatever – won’t be so good this coming year, but it could be good in a few years If Even though temporarily struggling, those moving forward continue to improve.

Derek King, this past season as interim coach, did an overall admirable job battling job contradictions and trying to strike the required balance. Yet he made some mistakes, such as describing his players as “dry” (April 12) and calling out more experienced additions (April 27), showing just how difficult the task is.

Richardson would be asked to do even better than King, for an even longer period of time, with an even worse team. Sure, she can benefit from a lack of pressure and expectations. But this task will not be easy.

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