I'm continuing the article series I started yesterday (4/27) of my five keys to a successful season for the Blackhawks. Here is key number 2:
Hire Their Long-Term Coach
If the goal is to refocus the efforts of the team toward the on-ice product, establishing the long-term head coach would be the next logical move. Will Derek King be the guy? I certainly wouldn’t count him out. God bless him though. The man basically entered into a last-minute role and an utterly thankless job during one of the darkest seasons of the team’s history. What King has been able to do with the team considering all of that is notable. On those factors alone, King should, at the very least, be considered, if not a favorite for the head coaching position.
He seems to have been largely successful with the young players on the team by getting the most out of inexperienced, mostly replacement level guys. His rapport with young players stretches back to his days coaching the Rockford Icehogs, and he is clearly fit for the “development” type coaching position. The question that the Hawks’ brass must consider is that the type of coach they are looking for? There is certainly value in a developmental coach, but if they want to maximize what years are left with Patrick Kane, maybe they pursue a coach of a little more repute and championship pedigree. Coaches that are realistic for the Blackhawks that fit that description include Claude Julien (easily the most successful option here), Lane Lambert, Rick Tocchet, and Jim Montgomery.
I’m not entirely sold on the organization going in that direction. In general, I think Kyle Davidson and Danny Wirtz have accepted the fate of a rebuild. With that being said, I think I would stick with Derek King, giving him a full offseason, preseason, and regular season to have under his belt. He has already built a lot of respect among the current lineup of players, and it would be advantageous to keep that continuity into next season.