CHICAGO – If the Blackhawks are supposed to be tanking, someone should tell Luke Richardson.

The first-year head coach is defying expectations in what was supposed to be the beginning of a long rebuild, reeling off four straight wins after starting the season with back-to-back losses.

“There was a moment, especially throughout preseason, where we weren’t scoring and we were giving up a lot,” explained Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “I think in a lot of ways, you don’t panic, but you worry a little bit. He was just calm and he knew that if we just keep things simple, eventually everyone will be on the same page and things will start turning our way.”

In the Hawks first three victories, they trailed 2-0 before rallying in comeback fashion. No clipboards were broken. No voices were raised. Richardson stayed calm and collected win or lose.

“Not too up. Not too down. Very even-keel the whole time,” noted Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane. “If it’s a good game for us, he kind of brings us back down to earth. If it’s a bad game, he might say, ‘it’s not that bad.'”

“I think players tend to have a feel for what’s going on behind them and they take on that personality,” explained Richardson. “If you’re going bananas all game and are too emotional – whether it be on referees or on players or situations – I think the players get off their game. You’re taking them out of their concentration zone. It’s about the players. I try to give them an environment to shine the best they can.”

Richardson provides a peaceful presence now that he’s behind the bench, but during his 21 years as an NHL defenseman, his demeanor was different.

“When I was too even-keel as a player, coaches told me that wasn’t my game. Play mean. Chase Troy Murray around the ice as much as possible. I was more of a Tinordi type player, trying to be heavy and physical and simple – block shots and kill penalties.

“I know people say you can’t flip a switch, but I guess I did.”

If he keeps it up, Richardson might turn the Hawks rebuild plans upside down, too.