CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks are nearing a deal with Luke Richardson to become their next coach, turning to the former NHL defenseman to help lead their already painful rebuilding process.

Richardson and the Blackhawks are working on a contract, according to a person familiar with the talks, and the move could be finalized as soon as next week. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been completed.

Richardson, 53, played for six teams during 21 years in the league, finishing with 35 goals and 166 assists in 1,417 games. He was selected by Toronto with the No. 7 overall pick in the 1987 draft.

Richardson retired during the 2008-09 season and joined Ottawa’s coaching staff. He was the head coach for the Senators’ AHL affiliate from 2012 to 2016.

Richardson, a native of Ottawa, Ontario, was an assistant on Montreal’s coaching staff for the previous four seasons. When Dominique Ducharme was diagnosed with COVID-19 during the 2021 playoffs, Richardson took over as coach for six games and helped lead the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993.

“He’s a tremendous person. He did a heck of a job coming in when Dom went out with COVID,” said Tampa Bay forward Corey Perry, who played for Montreal last season. “Guys are going to respect him. He’s been around the game a long time. He knows the game really well.”

Advertising

Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, but it has fallen on hard times in recent years. It began this past season with playoff aspirations, but stumbled to a 1-9-2 start on its way to a 28-42-12 record and a seventh-place finish in the Central Division.

Longtime general manager Stan Bowman resigned in October in the wake of a report by an outside law firm that found the organization mishandled allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010.

Kyle Davidson was elevated to the interim job before officially taking over on March 1. Norm Maciver joined the front office as an associate GM in March, and Jeff Greenberg was hired for the same role in April.

Richardson would replace Derek King, who finished the season as the interim coach after Jeremy Colliton was fired on Nov. 6. King was in the mix for the job after leading the Blackhawks to a 27-33-10 record.

There are major questions at goaltender and along the lines, which could have a dramatically different look next season if the team decides to trade stars Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews for more long-term assets.

___

AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this report.

___

Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports