Hawks happy Derek King is still in fold: 'We love him' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
When Luke Richardson was hired as the permanent head coach, the Blackhawks desperately wanted to keep Derek King around in some capacity. He had become a beloved figure inside and outside the locker room because of his humor and infectious personality.
It didn't take long for Richardson to see what the Blackhawks saw in King, so he added King to his coaching staff as an assistant. And while King assists Richardson with the X's and O's in the 5-on-5 game prep and pre-scouts, let's just say he's also trying to make sure everyone's keeping their head on a swivel.
"He's a lot of fun," Richardson said. "He keeps the coaches room light. You've got to keep on your toes because he's pretty sharp-witted. It's a real serious business. It's a billion-dollar business, right? We have a really big responsibility and we take it serious but I don't think you can, it's just like the players, they take it serious but you've got to have fun with it and make it a fun atmosphere and that's what we're trying to do, and Kinger's a big part of that."
The players quickly fell in love with King last season too. He took over a mentally fragile team that had won only once in its first 12 games, and immediately you could see the Blackhawks playing much looser because of King's laid-back demeanor.
The Blackhawks won their next four games after King took over, and they didn't lose back-to-back games for more than a month. He made an impact on the club.
"He's an upbeat guy and he keeps things loose around the room," Patrick Kane said. "He's pretty funny with everything, his little comments here and there. I think he did a really good job last year coming in and doing a good job in a tough position. We're all happy to have him back here."
You also need someone like King around for a full-scale rebuild. The next few years in Chicago will be tough, and there will probably be days when coming to the rink feels like a chore.
That's why having people that radiate positive energy like King in the mix is much needed.
"It's great," Sam Lafferty said. "A lot of us are excited to see him every day. He has such a good attitude and keeps things light. It's great to have positivity and Kinger's always got a smile on his face, cracking jokes. We love him."
"It's awesome having him here," Taylor Raddysh said. "He's a great guy and a great coach. Last year coming in, he made it very easy for me, just being a new guy to come in, very approachable coach. I'm very happy he's back.
"He definitely keeps it light and makes every day a good day. It's cool to have a guy around like that, it makes it a lot better for sure."
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