Sunday, September 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning assistant Todd Richards looks forward to facing team that fired him

TAMPA — Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards has a pretty good idea what emotions he will experience tonight facing the Blue Jackets, who fired him a year ago after five seasons behind the bench.

Richards, 50, has been in that position before, having coached in Columbus against his former Wild team in 2011-12. And Richards will see the Blue Jackets again Tuesday in Columbus.

"The more times you go through it, it gets easier," Richards said. "You understand it's part of the game. The best way I can explain it to people is this: You're in a relationship and they break up with you and you run into them on the street. At times it's a little awkward. But each time you see them, it gets a little easier.

"I'm looking forward to the game. No bad feelings."

Columbus' loss has been the Lightning's gain. Richards has helped spark a tremendous turnaround in the Tampa Bay power play that entered Thursday third in the 30-team league (24.4 percent) after being 28th last season (15.8 percent). Columbus was No. 1 (28.6).

"(Richards) has been phenomenal," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "He's simplified things. We know our game plan going out there. And our power play has been clicking pretty good. Obviously we want to put a good effort for him (tonight)."

Richards was fired by Columbus after an 0-7 start last season and replaced by former Lightning coach John Tortorella. But Richards is also the winningest coach in Columbus history, going 127-112-21, including leading the franchise to its only two playoff wins, both against Pittsburgh in 2014.

"That's what I'll always remember," Richards said. "The building was unbelievable."

Richards believes you always learn more from failure than success, and he thinks his experience in Columbus has made him a better coach. Without going into specifics, Richards said he picked up more "about the process."

"Just handling situations, trying to find the right way to do things," Richards said. "And get outside the box a little bit."

The firing was a blessing in a way, he said, because it allowed him to spend more time at home with his family. Richards said he got to watch his younger son, Justin, 18, play hockey and visit his other son, Zac, 20, at Ohio State. His family, including his wife, Marryann, still live in their home in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington, which is what makes next week's visit to Columbus special.

"When you're in one place for five years, you tend to put down some roots," Richards said. "A lot of good people, lot of friends (are) back there."

Richards met with a few NHL teams in his year off, including Detroit, before choosing to join Jon Cooper's staff in Tampa Bay. It seems like Richards would be open to another shot as head coach down the road.

"I'm focused on my job now," he said. "I think everyone aspires to be a head coach. I'm at a place right now in my role, my responsibilities, there's a great staff. I'm learning from 'Coop.' If I were to leave tomorrow, I'd take away a lot, and I've only been here for two months."

Comments
Lightning journal: Roster trimmed to 28

Lightning journal: Roster trimmed to 28

TAMPA – After Sunday morning, the Lightning sat five cuts away from having a 23-man roster to start the regular season.It announced 27 cuts that left 28 players on the roster with the start of the regular season less than two weeks away.Gone ar...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Lightning forward prospect Boris Katchouk putting together strong preseason

Lightning forward prospect Boris Katchouk putting together strong preseason

TAMPA — As the end of training camp looms, there's no clear-cut answer as to how the Lightning will fill the one, maybe two open forward spots in its lineup.It could go with Adam Erne. Spending much of his time in AHL Syracuse the past three se...
Published: 09/22/18
Lightning journal: ‘No-risk’ forward pickup; another preseason win; Fan Fest on Sunday

Lightning journal: ‘No-risk’ forward pickup; another preseason win; Fan Fest on Sunday

TAMPA — It didn't take long for Lightning GM Julien BriseBois to decide he wanted to put a waiver claim in Friday.Not when he saw that F Danick Martel was available."He's a player we have had on our radar for a while, going back to actually his...
Published: 09/22/18
Lightning journal: Adam Erne looks to stick in Tampa

Lightning journal: Adam Erne looks to stick in Tampa

Forward Adam Erne flicks the puck into the net, but he has no time to celebrate.He flips around. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Snow flies off his skates. Erne then squares his body as he arrives in the defensive zone, steps away from the net.Within a secon...
Published: 09/21/18
Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

The Lightning did not fare much better in its second preseason crack at the Hurricanes.In fact, it did worse.It lost 6-1 Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C.Carolina put a much more veteran team on the ice than it did Tuesday in winning Tampa Bay's preseason o...
Published: 09/19/18
Second-round pick Gabriel Fortier among Lightning’s early cuts

Second-round pick Gabriel Fortier among Lightning’s early cuts

One round of cuts down, several more to go.The Lightning cut seven players on Wednesday, five of whom were training camp invitees, the team announced. All seven players were assigned to juniors.Gabriel Fortier was the most notable cut. The Lightning'...
Published: 09/19/18
Lightning journal: Can Mathieu Joseph sneak his way onto the opening-day roster?

Lightning journal: Can Mathieu Joseph sneak his way onto the opening-day roster?

It remains to be seen if F Mathieu Joseph will make the Lightning's roster. If he doesn't, it certainly won't be because of a lack of opportunities.Joseph saw time on the Lightning power play and penalty kill on Tuesday at Amalie Arena when Tampa Bay...
Published: 09/19/18
Hockey News poll: Lightning favored to win Stanley Cup, other awards

Hockey News poll: Lightning favored to win Stanley Cup, other awards

Falling just short of winning a championship the past few seasons has done nothing to erode fans' confidence in the Lightning.Not just locally, but also nationally and across Canada.The Lightning is the runaway favorite to win the Stanley C...
Published: 09/19/18
Lightning journal: Alex Killorn’s just puttin’ on the Fitz

Lightning journal: Alex Killorn’s just puttin’ on the Fitz

TAMPA — How big is FitzMagic? It has hit the Lightning, too.Proving that Harvard guys stick together, Lightning forward Alex Killorn showed support for fellow Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick by, sort of, dressing up the way Fitzpatrick did after ...
Published: 09/19/18
Even if it’s just preseason, it matters

Even if it’s just preseason, it matters

TAMPA — It's a little after 10 o'clock on Tuesday morning.The NHL's intense regular season is still more than three weeks away. The uber-intense Stanley Cup playoffs are still seven months away.But, on this particular September day on a sheet o...
Published: 09/18/18