With so much of the NHL’s offseason activity justifiably centred around the athletes, it’s easy to miss some of the storylines that involve an organization’s off-ice personalities. Yet, the Chicago Blackhawks are certainly doing their part to maintain a newsworthy position in that regard.
This edition of Blackhawks News & Rumours will get you caught up on all the most recent personnel updates that will impact the franchise heading into and throughout their 2022-23 campaign.
Bowman Departs From Blackhawks
Although Stan Bowman had stepped down from his position with the Blackhawks early on in 2021-22, Scotty Bowman remained their senior advisor of hockey operations throughout last season. A role he held since 2008, with a tenure that he chose to quietly expire on July 1, 2022.
“It was time to move on,” Bowman said Tuesday from his summertime home in East Amherst, New York. “I called (Blackhawks) owner Rocky Wirtz first, then (general manager) Kyle Davidson a few days before my contract was to end. Kyle asked whether I’d reconsider, but I called him back and told him it was a family decision.”
Bowman initially entered the record books from the success achieved during his time behind the bench, having accumulated 1,244 regular season wins and adding nine Stanley Cup victories to his resume. Both of which hold up as the all-time best in each respect.
It should come as no surprise that his pedigree followed him into the various front office positions he held following his coaching career, as he went on to add five more Cup rings to his collection — one with the Pittsburgh Penguins, one with the Detroit Red Wings, and three with the Blackhawks.
His departure from the game appears temporary, as the 88-year-old has not ruled out the possibility of a return in some capacity. What we do know with more certainty, though, is that it’s less likely he’ll find his next challenge in Chicago.
Richardson Reaches for Success
Since the hiring of Luke Richardson, every endorsement of Chicago’s new bench boss has been glowing. Past players have been quick to highlight just how impactful Richardson was for their careers, offering a welcomed outlook for this rebuilding roster.
Surely, Richardson’s hockey sense and strategy factored into Chicago’s decision to hire him. But it may have been his passion that helped solidify his new role. After all, the Blackhawks will need to have someone with unwavering optimism at the helm as they navigate some rough waters ahead.
However, while confidence will always elicit benefits to some degree, maintaining a realistic approach is equally as important.
While there’s no denying that Richardson will instil a valuable work ethic, propelling this lineups progress, it’s not as though they should be expecting him to set records along the way. That’s simply unrealistic, with the current cast of characters he now has in front of him.
That said, before Chicago can even think about achieving in historic fashion, they have to start winning more often than they have been. If Richardson can make good on influencing development in the way that he’s become known to, that will be success enough for this franchise.
Then, from there, those who remain can collectively shift their focus to attempting to contend in the years ahead. Don’t hold your breath in the meantime.
King’s Back Behind the Bench
Following the firing of Jeremy Colliton back in November 2021, Derek King was swiftly named Chicago’s interim head coach.
Having spent the prior six seasons with the Rockford Ice Hogs of the American Hockey League (AHL), King seemed like a frictionless fit to takeover their struggling NHL affiliate. It’s not as though expectations were high for the 2021-22 Blackhawks, so there really was only upside to be had.
Unfortunately, despite beginning his new gig with a hot streak of four wins in a row, Chicago’s cumulative results landed them right where most expected by season’s end. Near the bottom of the league and outside of the playoff picture.
Not that it should be looked at as being King’s fault, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make the game more playful, but his seemingly casual approach could have confused onlookers at the best of times. The Blackahwks obviously felt they needed a more dominant voice to lead the charge, which is why Richardson was brought in instead.
However, King clearly still made his mark as the franchise found a way to keep him onboard in an assistant role. An opportunity that will offer the type of foundation more conducive to building a coaching career in the NHL, with room to grow alongside the roster he’s hoping to help do the same.
Olczyk Leaves Broadcast Booth
Eddie Olczyk being an entertaining and effective colour commentator wasn’t the only reason that his time calling games for Chicago was so special. The former third-overall pick was also drafted by the organization back in 1984.
He not only spent the first three years of his playing career with the club, but he also capped it off by retiring as a Blackhawk. Obviously, he and the organization were destined for more. Their collaboration continued when he took on a role as part of their television broadcast team.
Having played over 1,000 games in his career, Olczyk brought a level of unmatched credibility into the booth. One that the Blackhawks enjoyed for 16 seasons. Regardless of the recent news seemingly shocking most, it was inevitable that the two would eventually part ways.
This is a reality that supporters should come to terms with quickly, as to avoid confusion the next time they hear Olczyk call a game since it will be for a different franchise. Reports indicate that he’ll be working with the Seattle Kraken in 2022-23.
As has become a theme with the Blackhawks of late, another familiar face and fan favourite has left the building. Their teardown perseveres.
Freelance thinker, paying too much attention to digital aesthetic. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Sports fan, with two favourite hockey teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.