10 takeaways as Blackhawks' Kyle Davidson, Derek King address media

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10 takeaways as Davidson, King address media originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After a 1-9-2 start to the 2021-22 season, the Blackhawks made significant coaching changes on Saturday, relieving head coach Jeremy Colliton of his duties, along with assistant coaches Sheldon Brookbank and Tomas Mitell.

The Blackhawks named Rockford IceHogs head coach Derek King the interim coach for the NHL club while the team conducts its search for its permanent bench boss.

On Sunday after morning skate, the Blackhawks held a press conference with King and interim GM Kyle Davidson.

Here are 10 thoughts and takeaways from the media availability:

1. This was the first time we've ever heard from Davidson, who took over as interim general manager more than a week and a half ago. And you could see why he's moved up the ranks quickly within the organization. Bright hockey mind, deep thinker, exudes confidence and clearly not afraid to make tough decisions.

2. In Saturday's press release, CEO Danny Wirtz said Davidson has "full autonomy" to make hockey decisions moving forward. It was Davidson's call to make the coaching change.

Why did he feel the need to do so? "The losses aren’t necessarily the issue," Davidson said. "I think it’s sometimes the way you lose that shows a change needs to be made. It was just an accumulation and a general feel for how the response was being shown once the puck dropped."

3. It was a little bit of a surprise to see King named the interim head coach instead of Marc Crawford, who has decades of NHL coaching experience. Davidson explained why he made the call to bring up King from Rockford rather than Crawford.

"This wasn't a Derek vs. Marc decision," Davidson said. "Marc was entrenched in the coaching staff and I thought the person at the top of the pyramid should be from the outside. Derek's not far away in Rockford, but still an outside perspective and outside voice at the top of the pyramid. So that was the thought process behind that."

4. King is likely to serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Blackhawks are expected to name a permanent head coach in the offseason.

"That’s something we will undertake after the season," Davidson confirmed. "Midseason, you’re not able to explore maybe the number of candidates that you’d like. That’s something we’ll explore after the season. We’ve got a lot of time to get there. In the meantime, we’re going to focus on getting some wins and playing the right way and getting back to a brand of hockey our fans can be proud of."

5. Davidson, too, is holding an interim title. It doesn't seem like the Blackhawks are in any rush to make a permanent hire in the GM spot either, but perhaps it's because the organization could look to hire a new president of hockey operations first. Davidson obviously couldn't speak to the leadership search, but said it's going to be "an ongoing process."

"I’m willing to assist and help in any way possible, and if that way possible in helping Danny and Rocky is to make it easy on them to select myself, then that’s what I’ll do, too," Davidson said. "I love the Chicago Blackhawks, I love being here and all I want is to do what’s right by the fans, what’s right by the organization and get us back to where we want to go."

6. The Blackhawks have only one assistant coach on the staff right now in Crawford. Davidson said the intention is to add a second at some point. 

"Given the expedience which we moved yesterday, there just wasn't any in-house candidate we wanted to move into that role at this time," Davidson said. "So that's maybe a constant discussion, but my preference would be to add to the staff."

7. King understands that the Blackhawks are a vulnerable group right now. Don't expect him to come in here and be the loudest voice in the room. He just wants his players to relax. King's personality should work well with this team. He's a players' coach.

"I try to keep things light," King said. "I don’t take it too serious. Even as a player, I tried not to get myself worked up too much. Maybe that was a bad thing once in a while, but I want these guys to feel relaxed. They’re tight. My personality is going to come in and just let them just take a deep breath and get your shoulders dropped and go have some fun and get back to the game we love to play.

"We’ve played it since we were 5-6 years old, and it hasn’t changed. You might be making a little more money now, but it’s just time to go back to playing some good, solid, hard hockey and have some fun with it."

8. King doesn't plan on making any dramatic schematic changes as he takes over behind the bench. He's going to make any necessary adjustments on the fly as the games are played.

"For now, we’re not changing anything," King said. "We’re going to get those guys up there to play. The biggest thing for me is the accountability. Go out there, work hard, play the game right, don’t cheat it, and we’ll be fine. If you don’t do that, then the accountability is going to kick in — you’re going to hear from me."

 

9. Establishing trust with the veterans in the locker room is going to be crucial for King as he tries to get a pulse of the team. He said he's already talked to Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the leadership group and plans to do so on a deeper level in the future.

"I just wanted to let them know this is an open-door policy here," King said. "If they have concerns or they want to sit and chat and have a cup of coffee that my door is open. I’ll just build a relationship like that, talking to them a lot. Always communicating.

"Letting them have a voice, I think, is key. And to go over situations, whether it’s stuff on the ice or stuff as an entire team, we’ll make sure we’re always communicating. And that goes for all the players. Obviously those guys are key members, but that goes for all the players. And just building relationships like that."

10. Davidson, who started as an intern in 2010, had previously worked under Stan Bowman throughout his entire tenure with the Blackhawks. But that doesn't exactly mean they saw eye to eye on everything. Davidson is his own man with his own ideas.

"I think what I will say is I’m not Stan," Davidson said. "I’m a different person. And with that comes different opinions, different philosophies, for sure. As I continue to evaluate and get exposed to the different aspects of the organization, there’s definitely going to be some changes. There’s definitely going to be some changes because I have strong opinions on how certain things should run, how certain things should operate. So we’ll get into making those changes over time."

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