COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed Head Coach Todd Richards to a one-year contract extension through the 2014-15 National Hockey League season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.
Richards, 46, has led the Blue Jackets to a 42-38-9 record in 99 games behind the bench, including a 24-17-7 mark and franchise-best .573 winning percentage in 2012-13. Columbus, which has also gone 27-0-0 in games in which its led after two periods under Richards, finished tied for eighth in the Western Conference last season with 55 points. He was named head coach of the Blue Jackets on May 14, 2012, signing a two-year contract after originally joining the club as an assistant coach on June 20, 2011 and taking over as interim head coach on Jan. 9, 2012.
“We believe Todd is one of the top young coaches in our game and he has had a steadying influence on our team since taking over as head coach in January 2012,” said Kekalainen. “The hard work put in by Todd and our coaching staff has been a big reason for our team’s improved play and we are excited that he will continue to serve as our head coach.”
Richards has compiled a 119-109-25 record (.519) with the Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild during his NHL coaching career. After being named the second head coach in Wild history on June 16, 2009, he led Minnesota to a 38-36-9 mark (.512) in 2009-10 and a 39-35-8 record (.524) 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 excited about the future of our team and I appreciate the support I’ve received from the McConnell family, Mike Priest, John Davidson, Jarmo Kekalainen and everyone at the Blue Jackets organization,” said Richards. “We have made a lot of progress on the ice, but there is still a lot of work to be done and I’m looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”
Prior to his stint with the Sharks, 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 (.653) 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.
Richards, who was born on Oct. 20, 1966 in Crystal, Minnesota, played four seasons at the University of Minnesota from 1985-89. He was a three-time WCHA Second All-Star Team pick, helped the Golden Gophers win 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 and is the school’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 30-128-158.
Montreal’s third pick, 33rd overall, in the 1985 NHL 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 spanned 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.