Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson explains the decision to re-hire Lukas Reichel

The Blackhawks brought Lucas Richell back to Rockford on Friday, and let’s just say a portion of their fanbase wasn’t crazy about the move. He had an impressive three games in the NHL and looked like a different player.

Before Saturday’s game against Seattle, Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson explained the organization’s decision to rehire Rachel after praising the 20-year-old prospect and the steps he’s taken in developing him.

“He was excellent and it’s a testament to the hard work he’s done, it’s a testament to the work our coaches have done with him,” said Davidson. “He did everything we asked of him and worked hard in the areas we wanted him to work in.

“Going forward, I think it pays for him to come down and play center, and be a leader on a team that is going to play meaningful hockey down the stretch. That doesn’t mean he won’t get opportunities here, because I think that’s valuable and injuries happen and he won’t. We deprive him of it.

“There are also other players in Rockford that we’d love to show the NHL with as well because, just like Lukas and others, they’ve taken some really positive steps in their development and we want to reward that. But it’s all about the experience of being a favorite on a good team in a good league. The AHL is second to none. Our best league in hockey and to be able to put some of our prospects in leadership roles, in key roles on this team and in this league is very valuable and that’s something we really want to do again going forward.”

You can definitely prove that Reichel is one of the best options for the Blackhawks right now. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. You could also say it’s worth a longer look, even if it’s not a permanent place to be, and I tend to agree.

The Blackhawks, more than anything, want Reichel to play meaningful hockey and experience better positions in the AHL with the IceHogs, who are already one of the best teams and could make a deep run into the Calder Cup Playoffs.

“Let’s call a spade a spade, we’re hunting most game here,” Davidson said. “And I don’t necessarily think that makes for a very positive development. There are great situations at Rockford where our young players have to go out and defend their lead and defend close games, get opportunities to play and score and come back from tight games against other teams that are really good. It’s different situations. Right now, so we have to keep that in mind as well.”

The Blackhawks have said from day one that they will be patient with their prospects, considering they have rushed many of them to the NHL over the past few years. That means using the AHL to their full advantage and working with them hands on.

The Blackhawks don’t seem too concerned about Reichel’s confidence, and whether his ups and downs might affect him in the bigger picture.

“It’s always a consideration,” Davidson said. “That’s why we make sure they understand the big picture and that there’s a roadmap there and there since the beginning of the year and we make sure they understand it when making decisions.

“As we’ve talked in the past with players, it’s not their job to see the big picture but your job is to help them understand why you’re doing things and guide them to why you think it’s the best in the long run, and that’s something we’ve done not only with Lukas but with a lot of potential clients, you know.” They’re knocking on the door.

“Some of them, could they play in the NHL? Maybe they could. But the question of what’s best for their long-term development and being in situations that we can offer them at Rockford on a very good team in a very good league, I think is something we really appreciate.”

“And then you get them exposed to our coaches every day, it’s not something you get a lot of in developing hockey when they have their own coaches, if they’re in junior high or in Europe or college, and you only get to see them so often. The AHL is really the only time they develop. All the way to the NHL where you have practical development opportunities every day, and that’s something we’re trying to take advantage of.”

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