Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/14/12 at 11:00 AM ET
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Todd Richards has been named head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the National Hockey League club announced today. Richards, who served as the club’s interim head coach over the final 41 games of the 2011-12 season, has agreed to a two-year contract through the 2013-14 season.
Richards, 45, joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach on June 20, 2011 and took over as interim head coach on January 9. He led the Blue Jackets to an 18-21-2 record, including a 16-14-1 mark over the final 31 games with wins in seven of its last 11 outings. Columbus also went 14-0-0 when taking a lead into the third period after dropping points in eight of its previous 17 games when leading after two periods (9-6-2).
“At the end of last season, Craig and I reviewed all aspects of the year and took a close look at the job Todd did leading our club over the final 41 games. As we analyzed available coaching candidates and individuals who might become available, it became very clear to us that he is the right person to lead our team,” said Howson. “Our team continuously improved under Todd and he has earned the opportunity to build upon the work he started.”
“We have high expectations and feel a sense of urgency to improve this team and establish a culture in which competitiveness and accountability breed success,” said Patrick. “Todd has been a winner at every level of his hockey career and has developed into an outstanding coach.”
Prior to joining the Blue Jackets, Richards compiled a 77-71-16 record as the head coach of the Minnesota Wild from 2009-11. He was named the second head coach in Wild history on June 16, 2009 and led the club to a 38-36-8 record in 2009-10 and a 39-35-8 mark in 2010-11. In 2008-09, he served as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks and helped the club capture the Presidents’ Trophy with an NHL-best 53-18-11 record.
“I am very grateful to the McConnell family, our ownership group, Scott, Craig and the organization for the opportunity to continue as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets,” said Richards. “We have a lot of work to do to give our fans the type of team they want but I am really excited about what lies ahead. We made strides last season and I’m confident that our players are ready for the challenges before us.”
Richards spent two seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins from 2006-08, compiling a 98-49-13 record and leading the club to the 2008 Calder Cup Final. He also coached the PlanetUSA squad at the 2007 Rbk Hockey/AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto. He began his coaching career as an assistant with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals from 2002-06, helping the club to a pair of West Division titles, two appearances in the Calder Cup Final and the 2004 Calder Cup championship.
A defenseman, he played four seasons at the University of Minnesota from 1985-89. He was a three-time WCHA Second All-Star Team pick, helping the Golden Gophers win two Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) titles in 1988 and 1989 and reach the NCAA title game in 1989. He served as the team’s captain and earned Second Team All-America honors as a senior in 1988-89 and is the University of Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 30-128-158.
Montreal’s third pick, 33rd overall, in the 1985 Entry Draft, Richards made his professional debut in 1990 and appeared in eight career NHL games with the Hartford Whalers between 1990-92, collecting four assists and four penalty minutes. His playing career would span 13 seasons, mostly in the AHL and International Hockey League. He helped Springfield win the 1991 Calder Cup championship, was a three-time IHL All-Star and won the 2001 Turner Cup title with the Orlando Solar Bears. He wrapped up his career in 2001-02 with Servette Geneve in Switzerland.
Richards was born on Oct. 20, 1966 in Crystal, Minnesota. He and his wife, Maryann, are the parents of sons, Zachary and Justin.
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