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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Ben Pope

Blackhawks notes: Luke Richardson feeling at home in Chicago

Blackhawks second-year coach Luke Richardson feels at home in Chicago. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson has only lived in Chicago a little over a year now, but he says it “absolutely” already feels like home.

He’s grateful he doesn’t get recognized very often, which allows him to enjoy many of the attractions around downtown during his scarce free time.

“Definitely the restaurants are great,” Richardson said. “I haven’t hit all of them yet, but [I’m] trying. I love just walking around along the waterfront of the lake and the river walkways. It’s been great, beautiful fall weather, so [I’ve been] trying to take advantage of that before the harsh winter comes.”

For as loquacious as Richardson can be — especially when breaking down hockey tactics or evaluating player performances — he doesn’t enjoy talking about himself nearly as much. It can sometimes be difficult to get him to do so.

Thus, even as he enters the dog days of his second season as an NHL head coach — which one would assume feels a lot different than his first season — he insists he’s going about things the exact same way. His approach did work admirably well right off the bat in Year One, to be fair.

“I haven’t really changed much about myself or how I approach the team,” he said. “We have [made] little tiny adjustments system-wise, but really it’s still the same system with little adjustments, and everybody goes through that through the course of the season.

“I like to be consistent, and I think the players respond to consistency and they get used to that. It’s just the execution part, that’s what we’re really going to start harping on.”

Dach erupts in Rockford

Hawks forward prospect Colton Dach endured a delayed start to his first pro season due to a right ankle injury suffered in training camp, but he has quickly found his stride this month in Rockford.

He made his AHL debut on Nov. 4 and had tallied two points (both assists) in five games before erupting this weekend. He scored his first pro goal Friday in an overtime loss to Milwaukee, then singlehandedly carried Rockford to a 4-3 shootout win over Iowa on Saturday, recording a hat trick plus the shootout winner.

In contrast to their defense and goaltending corps, the IceHogs don’t possess many elite prospects in their forward group, but Dach is arguably the lone exception. Down the road, the Hawks see him as a potential middle-six center with a powerful, physical edge.

Among Rockford’s other forwards, Joey Anderson (with 15 points in 12 games entering Sunday) and Cole Guttman are call-up candidates; Ryder Rolston, Jalen Luypen, Marcel Marcel and Antti Saarela are mildly intriguing prospects.

Commercials matter

Two nights before beating the Hawks last weekend, the Panthers topped the Hurricanes 5-2. In that game, due to a combination of power plays and a lack of even-strength stoppages, the third period’s “under-14” TV timeout didn’t happen until there was just 7:49 left.

Situations like that happen fairly often around the league, and when they do, the manual ice-scraping that occurs during every commercial break gets delayed. In the meantime, the ice gets rougher and covered in shavings, which the players notice.

“You’ll get guys on the bench talking to one another, being like, ‘Hey, the ice is choppy. Let’s manage the puck right now. [We] don’t do anything stupid with it,’” Hawks forward Jason Dickinson said. “Because the puck starts to bounce a lot. You start to get it stuck in snow a lot.”

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