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Lightning hire Richards as assistant coach

Led Blue Jackets to only Stanley Cup Playoff victories @NHLdotcom

Todd Richards was hired as assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times that one of Richards' focus will be the Lightning's power play. The Lightning were 28th in the League on the power play this season at 15.3 percent.

"I think [Richards] can help us in every department," Yzerman said. "He's not hired specifically to be a power-play specialist because he's experienced in all facets. He's done it all. But he definitely will help be involved in the power play.

"I thought his teams in Columbus played very hard, played smart, they were good on special teams. I think being a head coach in all aspects of the game can help us in every department."

Richards had spent the previous five seasons as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets before he was fired Oct. 21, 2015 following a 0-7-0 start. He replaces Steve Thomas, whose contract was not renewed, on Lightning coach Jon Cooper's staff.

The Lightning finished second in the Atlantic Division and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive year before they were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.

"All you have to do is sit back and watch what they've done the last two years, in particular the Stanley Cup Final and conference finals," Richards told the Tampa Bay Times. "… They've done a great job. Hopefully I can come in and add a little something."

Richards, 49, got the Blue Jackets to the playoffs once in five seasons, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round in 2014, and the two games they won in that series are the Blue Jackets' only postseason wins. Richards had a points percentage of .500 or better in three of his four full seasons with the team and his 127 wins are the most of any Blue Jackets coach.

He also coached the Minnesota Wild for two seasons (2009-11). In 424 career games he is 204-183-37.

Richards coached the United States to a bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championships and was an assistant to Dan Bylsma for the U.S. at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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