He’s a veteran’s veteran, a dependable defenceman who brought half a lifetime of National Hockey League experience into the Ottawa Senators’ dressing room.
Luke Richardson has been everything the Senators had hoped for when he returned to his hometown for a 20th NHL season. He’s been rock solid on the Sens blue line, adding a dose of grit and toughness that any team can use.
At 38, he’s also the elder statesman on what is still a relatively young squad. None younger than the 19-year-old rookie who sits almost directly across the dressing room from the veteran who’s exactly twice his age.
If the presence of Nick Foligno
makes Richardson feel a little old, he’s not saying. Even when it’s mentioned that the blueliner spent part of the 1990-91 season playing with Mike Foligno, Nick’s father.
“I’ve played with guys even younger than Nick,” said Richardson, who was in his fourth season in Toronto when the Maple Leafs acquired Mike Foligno from the Buffalo Sabres. “It doesn’t make you feel old or worried (about your job) or anything.
"All it does is keep you aware that every moment is precious in the NHL, and I think you take that for granted when you’re younger. Now, it’s just another reminder that you live in the moment and enjoy it and try to make the most of it.”
Richardson and Mike Foligno’s time together as teammates was brief – the defenceman was traded to the Edmonton Oilers during training camp in the fall of 1991. But their connection lasted a little bit longer, as the Foligno family rented Richardson’s house in Toronto during the 1991-92 season.
“I don’t remember much about it, just that it was close enough to walk to school,” said Nick Foligno
, who was four years old at the time.
Even in part of one season, Mike Foligno made an impression on a young Richardson.
“Great family,” said Richardson. “Mike’s such a great guy, and I learned a lot from him over the years. I can see a lot of that rubbed off on Nick as well. There’s great things to come from him and another generation of Folignos, that’s for sure.”
Richardson is doing his part to help it happen. Bringing this story full circle, so to speak.
“He’s a great guy, I’ve learned a lot from him already,” said Nick Foligno
. “He knows so much and he’s been around the league so long … I’m definitely going to listen to what he has to say.
“My dad said that he was a hard worker, a tough guy. Everyone always got along with Luke. You could tell when you were around the dressing room. He’s a hard-working guy and keeps it simple. It’s nice having him around, for sure.”Sens return to capital
The Senators wrapped up their three-day retreat with a light scrimmage Tuesday morning in Gravenhurst, Ont. Antoine Vermette (back spasms) was the only Senators regular who didn’t take part in the intra-squad game.
The team returned home to Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon, and resumes practising at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday morning. The Senators’ next game is Saturday against the Devils in Newark, N.J., for the first NHL game in the new Prudential Center.