The Chicago Blackhawks Had No Choice but to Demote Lukas Reichel

He was sent to Rockford after recording just 10 points in 50 games.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks assigned struggling forward Lukas Reichel to the Rockford IceHogs.

It was the last card the franchise could play in its hopes of turning around the talented winger's awful first full NHL season.

Reichel was the Blackhawks' top prospect before the team drafted Connor Bedard. It seemed like that was forgotten the moment the Hawks won the NHL Draft Lottery. In turn, Reichel played like a forgotten top prospect.

He has just ten points on the season with three goals in 50 games played. His advanced numbers are even worse.

There were high hopes for Reichel coming into this season after he produced 15 points in 23 games last season. He was playing so well that the Hawks front office demoted him to the IceHogs in part because his play was starting to impact the tank. The official reason for the surprise demotion was the Blackhawks believed he was a top-six player and there was just not enough ice time.

Needless to say, the organization has mismanaged his development a little bit as instead of having him start the season on the wing with Bedard, the Hawks had him begin the year as the second-line center.

When they did not work out, he has been bouncing up and down the lines with some healthy scratches mixed in.

That is not to say Reichel does not share the majority of the responsibility for his poor play. He has been adverse to contact and not being forceful when it comes to winning a board battle.

Reichel also tends to get frustrated too easily and that leads to him disengaging from the game. The coaching staff worked extensively to turn his season around and nothing worked. Benching him also had no effect. That is why he is now in the AHL.

Demoting Reichel was the only option left to get him going.

Head coach Luke Richardson could have gone with the status quo of moving him up and down the lines and mixing in healthy scratches when he started to play even worse than usual. Then that is doing the same over and over again expecting different results. Some define that as insanity.

Richardson could have moved him to the top line to skate with the returning Connor Bedard. That attempt only yielded one good game out of Reichel. Plus, Phillip Kurashev and Nick Foligno have been producing the past two games with Bedard. You do not want to break up that line.

Also, a promotion that is not earned sends the wrong message.

Reichel is also not thriving on the bottom six and doing the dirty work does not maximize his offensive gifts. Plus, Anthony Beauvillier is probably on his way back from injured reserve and the Hawks need to see what they have in him. Plus, he can contribute better on all four lines than Reichel. Room might be eventually required soon for prospects Frank Nazar III and Landon Slaggert if they sign after their college seasons are over.

A trip to Rockford is what he needs to regain his confidence. He has 41 career regular-season goals with the IceHogs, so we know he can play well there.

Also, we are now at the point of the season where even during a rebuild season, players need to be held accountable for their poor play. 50 games is more than enough time to be patient with a struggling player. It also sends a message to the rest of the struggling forwards that they need to step up their games.

Finally, this is the right move because Reichel simply just ran out of time to prove he can turn things in the NHL. Let's face it, he is having a bad season and at some point, you just have to cut your losses. That does not mean the Hawks are giving up on him completely. He is still 21 and some players take a while to develop. He can continue to develop in Rockford and see if he can rebound next season on a one-year prove-it deal.