Derek Plante leaving Bulldogs staff to become Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach
A resident of Hermantown and native of Cloquet, Derek Plante was a development coach for the Blackhawks from 2015-2020.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth associate head coach Derek Plante is not only returning to the National Hockey League, but to the Chicago Blackhawks after just two seasons back on the Bulldogs’ bench.
A UMD source confirmed the news Friday, with an official announcement from the Blackhawks expected to come next week.
Plante, who was a player development coach for the Blackhawks from 2015-2020, is returning to the NHL franchise as an assistant coach under first-year head coach Luke Richardson. A resident of Hermantown and native of Cloquet, the 51-year-old Plante was originally an assistant coach under Scott Sandelin at UMD from 2010-2015.
During Plante’s two stints spanning seven seasons on the UMD coaching staff, the Bulldogs made three NCAA tournaments, appeared in two Frozen Fours and won their first NCAA title in 2011. The Bulldogs won the NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship in 2022 before falling to eventual national champion Denver in an NCAA regional final in Loveland, Colorado.
Plante played four seasons at UMD from 1989-1993 before embarking on a 15-year professional career that included eight seasons in the NHL and seven overseas in Europe and Japan. Plante won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 and played with Richardson on the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000-01 — Plante’s last season in the NHL.
Plante’s eldest son, Zam, is verbally committed to play for the Bulldogs in the future. Zam Plante, who helped Hermantown High School win a Minnesota Class A state hockey championship as a junior in 2021-22, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins this summer in the fifth round. He’ll either play in 2022-23 as a senior at Hermantown or in the United States Hockey League with the Chicago Steel.
Zam’s younger brother, Max, was also part of the state championship team at Hermantown this past year, as a sophomore. Max — the middle child of Derek and his wife, former Bulldogs softball and basketball standout Kristi Plante — will play next season on the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, which is based in Plymouth, Michigan. He is eligible on Monday, Aug. 1 to verbally commit to an NCAA Division I school, as are all players heading into their junior year of high school.
The Chicago Blackhawks and UMD hockey programs have become closely tied over the years, with former Bulldog All-American and Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist Norm Maciver serving as the team’s associate general manager. Former UMD women’s defenseman Brigette Lacquette is also a pro scout for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks own the rights to current Bulldogs Dominic James and Wyatt Kaiser. Kaiser, a junior defenseman, was drafted in the third round of the 2020 draft while James, a sophomore center, went in the sixth round in 2022.