DETROIT – The Red Wings filled their final coaching vacancy on Tuesday, adding more experience to a growing staff.
Todd Richards has signed on with Jeff Blashill’s coaching staff, joining recent hires assistant Doug Houda and goaltending coach Jeff Salajko.
Richards, a two-time former NHL head coach, will be responsible for working with the forwards and overseeing the Red Wings’ power play that struggled during the 2015-16 season.
Houda, a former Red Wings’ defenseman, was an assistant the past 10 seasons with the Boston Bruins. He will coach Detroit’s defensemen and oversee the penalty kill.
Richards has compiled a 204-183-37 coaching record in the NHL. He was head coach of the Minnesota Wild (2009-11) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (2012-15). He also an assistant during Todd McLellan’s first season as head coach of the San Jose Sharks in 2008-09.
Richards, who will turn 50 on Oct. 20, is the all-time winningest coach in Blue Jackets’ history (127-112-21).
Under his tutelage the Jackets’ power play saw vast improvement. When he took over as interim head coach in 2012, the Jackets’ power play was ranked No. 26. Two years later Columbus cracked the top 10, and in 2014-15 – the same season Detroit boasted the second strongest power play – the Blue Jackets established a franchise high power-play success rate (21.7 percent) finishing with the league’s fifth ranked special teams unit.
But that success caught up with Richards, who was fired last October after the Jackets lost their first seven games of the season.
Richards still has a year remaining on his deal with the Blue Jackets.
Last December, Richards told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun that he had learned from what transpired in Columbus so that his next coaching opportunity is a better experience.
"You have to reflect back on what went right and what went wrong," Richards said. "You have to figure out what allows you to have success and where your failure was. You try to grow from it. But I really enjoyed my time here."
Richards has spent the past 14 seasons coaching at the pro level and on the international stage. He was an assistant for four seasons (2002-06) at AHL Milwaukee and a head coach at AHL Wilkes-Barre Scranton (2006-08), where the Penguins captured the 2008 Calder Cup.
This month, Richards finished his fourth stint with USA Hockey, working as an assistant at the 2016 World Championship in Russia. He was head coach at the 2015 World Championship, as well as an assistant at the 2010 Worlds and the 2014 Olympics.
A native of Crystal, Minnesota, Richards stayed home to play hockey at the University of Minnesota, where he was standout defenseman. He was named to the all-tournament team for his performance in the 1989 Frozen Four when the Gophers lost to Harvard in the championship game. He was Montreal's second-round draft pick in 1985, and played six career NHL games with the Hartford Whalers.
Richards is the older brother of Travis Richards, who holds the all-time games played record for the Grand Rapids Griffins. Richards, who logged 655 games in a Griffins’ uniform, had his No. 24 retired in 2006.