Chicago Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson is over moral victories. So he’s asking more of his team in the early days of his second season behind the bench.
“I’m kinda at the point, I’m tired,” he said after the Blackhawks’ 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. “One year is enough of, ‘We’re a hardworking team.’ I think we want to push for more this year. I think we start off with a good intention, but I find the other teams – not outwork us work ethic-wise, I wanna say the hardness of the work. Physical one-on-one battles.”
Richardson plans address the issue with battle drills.
“They don’t like that, but if you don’t do it in game, you have to do it in practice,” he said.
Chicago hired Richardson prior to the 2022-23 season and the Blackhawks went on to finish in last place in the Central Division with a 26-49-7 record. The tank job was a success as the Windy City won the draft lottery and claimed Connor Bedard with the first overall pick.
The Blackhawks are 2-5-0 on the 2023-24 campaign, but they’ve faced some pretty stiff competition and rank second in strength of schedule at this point in the season, according to The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn. Chicago has already squared off against the Vegas Golden Knights, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche and the Bruins twice.
Richardson isn’t using that as an excuse for his team’s record, though.
“We have to learn from what we’re losing against and instill that in our game and play harder,” he said.
The Blackhawks are mired in a three-game losing streak in which they’ve been outscored 12-3. Richardson said he and his coaching staff are going to ensure doubt doesn’t “sneak” into their rebuilding team’s dressing room.
“We’re going to push them and say that we’re with them here, but tonight and last game, we’re not going to accept that,” he said. “It’s not that it’s unacceptable … We are a team that maybe isn’t there yet, but we have to find ways to make improvements and be determined, not discouraged.
“You can be discouraged tonight, the game’s over and (be) disappointed, but that should drive you and fuel you. It shouldn’t make you tense up and worried and concerned on the ice.”
The Blackhawks are staring down yet another tough matchup. They’ll take on the Golden Knights on Friday in Vegas.