“We’re going to play at a high pace. That’s why I emphasize them skating in our drills,” said Richardson to the media on Thursday.
The 63 players invited to the Blackhawks training camp are split across three separate practice teams, mixing longtime veterans with some of the freshest faces in the organization. The Blackhawks over the next three weeks will decide on their final the opening day roster.
Richardson’s already made his presence known amongst the players.
“He’s got tremendous experience playing at this level,” said captain Jonathan Toews to media on Thursday. “He seems to be the kind of guy that you’re really going to want to play hard for.”
“He seems intense and pretty focused,” said forward Patrick Kane.
Video: Kane on Richardson, outlook on year
Richardson plans to split the opening few days of practice by the three zones: Thursday, the team focused on the defensive end. Under the leadership of assistant coach Kevin Dean, the Blackhawks’s will utilize a Box+1-like defensive system and Richardson prioritized clarity within the team’s defense.
“We’re looking to kill plays quick,” Richardson said. “Once we’re in there, we want to play an aggressive style of defense. It’s fast defense, it’s hard defense, and that just gives us more energy to play offense.”
“It felt simple, easy and straightforward,” said Toews. “When you know what the other four guys are doing, it makes your job a lot easier.”
“Everyone’s on the same page,” added Kane. “Then we can play fast and be able to make plays and have the freedom to do that.”
Toews and Kane hit the ice together as part of the same practice group. Also a part of the Team A practice group: 2022 draft picks Kevin Korchinski and Samuel Savoie, center Andreas Athanasiou, and both Jones brothers, Seth and Caleb.
Video: Toews on rebuild, Richardson
Notable Players On and Off the Ice
Jake McCabe made an appearance on the ice for the first time since undergoing cervical spine surgery in early September, although his injury timetable remains the same, prescribed 10-12 weeks on Sept. 13. Richardson and the training staff included him in team meetings and limited the veteran defenseman to non-contact shooting and passing drills.
“It’s easy to sit up in the stands and watch” Richardson said, “but it’s better for him to be game level [on the ice]. That’s where he’s going to be playing it.”
Having previously coached him while in Montreal, Richardson praised forward Max Domi‘s positional versatility and plans on playing him at the center to start the year.
Richardson also reiterated that top prospect Lukas Reichel will have to earn a spot through his play: “For him, there’s no point in keeping a guy like that on the fourth line in the wing. That’s not [Reichel’s] strength. We want to make sure he can make the team in a role that’s going to be his strength.”
Forwards Colton Dach and Paul Ludwinski did not practice on the opening day while in concussion protocol.
Ian Mitchell is out for approximately six weeks with a left wrist injury.
Connor Murphy did not practice today for personal reasons and will join the team for activities tomorrow.
Day One Practice Groups
Ethan Del Mastro