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Todd Richards returns to Florida as Lightning assistant coach

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

Todd Richards played six seasons for the Orlando Solar Bears of the International Hockey League from 1995 to 2001 and won a Turner Cup during his final season in Orlando.

Both of Richards’ children were born in Florida.

Richards recently bought a house in Naples.

To say the former Columbus Blue Jackets head coach has connections to the state of Florida would be a bit of an understatement.

Now he’ll have one more: as an assistant coach on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Richards will return to the Sunshine State to join Jon Cooper’s staff for the 2016-17 season. Richards most recently was the main man behind the bench at Columbus, where he compiled a 127-112-21 record over parts of five seasons (2011-16), guiding the Blue Jackets to consecutive 40-win seasons for the first time in team history as well as the franchise’s first playoff victories in 2014.

Richards was also head coach of the Minnesota Wild for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and posted a 77-71-16 mark.

Tampa Bay will mark Richards’ fourth stop as a coach in the NHL. He was an assistant for San Jose during the Sharks’ 2008-09 Presidents’ Trophy season.

“Everything I’ve heard about the organization and how (Lightning general manager) Steve (Yzerman) has run it, I’ve heard all positive things,” Richards said. “For me, coming in as a coach, I’m really excited about the opportunity.”

Richards said Cooper reached out to him and the two had conversations about the position up until last week when “things picked up pretty quick.”

Richards will join a Tampa Bay organization that won the Eastern Conference championship and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final two seasons ago and was one win away from a return trip to the Cup Final this season.

Richards said the Lightning’s recent success was a definite factor in his coming to Tampa Bay.

“If I had to pick teams, Tampa Bay would be up there,” he said. “You can’t do that all the time as a coach, but I’m very lucky that a position opened up there, and I had the opportunity to talk to Jon and Steve. From both sides, it looks like a good fit and feels like a good fit. But for me, I’m really excited. I’m joining a team that has won and I think is going to win in the future.”

Asked to describe his coaching style, Richards said he likes his teams to play an aggressive game that mirrors the philosophy Cooper has brought to the Lightning.

“When you have the puck, great, let’s get after it,” Richards said. “When you don’t have it, let’s get it back. There’s lot of things, the X’s and O’s, this and that, but for me, it’s the mentality as a player of being aggressive.”

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