TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Luke Richardson to a one-year, $500,000 contract today, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced.
Richardson, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound, 19-year NHL veteran, has accumulated 1,312 games in his career with Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia and Columbus. He has netted 33 goals and handed out 156 assists in his career which began in 1987 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has also played in 69 career Stanley Cup Playoff games and recorded eight assists. He split the 2005-06 season between Columbus and Toronto.
"Prior to trading Darryl Sydor to Dallas we had identified Luke as the player we wanted to bring into our organization to effectively take over Syd's role," Feaster said. "We made our contract offer to Luke and had to wait because we weren't the only team in the mix for his services. The ideal situation would have been to have Luke signed before we executed the trade. However, the trade would not wait. We made our deal and then did everything we could to convince Luke to choose Tampa as his destination.
"Not only did Claude Loiselle work hard with Luke's agents, but Director of Player Personnel, Bill Barber, had numerous conversations with Luke about the merits of playing in Tampa. In the end, Luke's relationship with Billy and also with Craig Ramsay went a long way in terms of influencing his decision. We view Luke as a very dependable, hard-nosed, honest, hard-working defenseman who brings a veteran presence to our blue line and our room. He is a rugged, gritty d-man who brings a physical presence and will be able to settle things down on the ice when necessary. We are thrilled to add him to the Lightning organization."
Richardson, 37, played under Ramsay during the 1999-00 season when the Flyers went to the Eastern Conference Finals. He played in 18 games that postseason and recorded one assist. It was the second time in his career he reached the Conference Finals after playing 16 playoff games with Edmonton in 1992.
The Ottawa, Ontario native began the 2005-06 season serving as the Blue Jackets' captain for the second consecutive season. He played in 44 games with Columbus, scoring one goal and adding six assists. He was traded to Toronto on March 8 and played in 21 games with the Maple Leafs. He recorded three assists with 41 penalty minutes.
Richardson's last international performance came with Team Canada at the 1996 World Championships in Vienna, Austria. He also won the Gold Medal at the 1994 World Championships in Milan, Italy. It was Canada's first Gold Medal since 1961. Richardson also won a silver medal at the 1986 World Junior Championships in Hamilton, Ontario.
In his junior career, Richardson skated in 122 games with the Peterborough Petes and scored 19 goals with 50 assists before going directly to the NHL in 1987. He was Toronto's first round pick, seventh overall, in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.