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My Influences: Luke Richardson

The newly appointed Canadiens assistant coach opens up about some of the players he learned from over the years

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - Assistant coach Luke Richardson learned the tricks of the hockey trade from a host of NHLers over the course of his 21-year playing career in the NHL.

Before being introduced to the media on Monday at the Bell Sports Complex, the veteran defenseman shed some light on some of his top influences.


He grew up in my area, just outside of Ottawa. When you see a person and a player have so much success from where you come from, that's always a motivating thing. I never became a Larry Robinson, but he was definitely someone I ended up having a chance to play against. He was always a gentleman, but he also had an amazing compete level. He could be mean when he had to be mean, but he could skate. He was the whole package. He was also one of the classiest guys. I was actually playing in Montreal the night they retired his number, and it was an honor for me to shake his hand and be there.


I grew up in Ottawa, between Montreal and Toronto, so every Saturday night I watched Montreal or Toronto, depending who was on TV. I had a chance to watch Borje Salming play a lot. I saw the difficulties he went through to become one of the first European players to come over and play, and the challenges he had. He did it with grace and compete and heart. I had the opportunity to play with him as an 18 and 19-year-old, so to grow up fast in the NHL and have him talking to me on the bench or telling me what I did on the last shift or what to look for, it helped me along the way and I put that into my game as I got older. That made me want to help younger players, which probably ended up getting me into coaching. Looking back, he was one of the biggest influences on my young career in the NHL.  


He was my captain in Toronto when I was struggling to stay in the lineup after playing a couple of years in the league already. I was still a young player, though. I remember him seeing me sitting on a plane one time bummed out because I didn't dress. The guys were enjoying a successful win, and you just sometimes feel like you're not a part of the team when you don't play in the game. I remember looking a little bit down and out. He got up and came to sit down beside me. He put his arm around me and said - "We've all been through this." He was at the height of his career and I was just starting. He recognized the guy that needed a pat on the back. I always respected that from him and I always told myself to remember that someday, if you're ever in that position. I tried to do that for other players, too. Little things like that go a long way.


He was another captain of mine when I first moved from Toronto to Edmonton. We went to the semi-finals my first year. I was lucky enough to play some games with Kevin Lowe as a partner. Just watching him, he had so much grace on the ice with a high, high compete level. He was also such a gentleman off the ice, a great captain, a great leader. He's just got a good, peaceful way about himself and a presence. When he speaks, he's very intelligent. When he's competing, he's 100 % into it to win. I think that's such a great mix and it's why he had so much success. I try to watch those guys that had success, but treated people right. There was a common denominator there on what makes a champion in the NHL both on and off the ice.

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