Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning hires Todd Richards as assistant coach

TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman made it clear the recent coaching staff shakeup had nothing to do with anything his former teammate, Steve Thomas, did wrong since joining the organization in 2010 as player development coordinator.

"He had a tremendous impact on everyone here," Yzerman said. "We wish him well."

But the Lightning felt like it was time for a change, which is why Thomas' contract wasn't renewed, and former Columbus coach Todd Richards, 49, was hired Tuesday, joining Jon Cooper's staff. Yzerman lauded Richards' vast experience, more than 400 career games of head coaching experience with the Wild and Blue Jackets.

And Yzerman acknowledged Richards, who led the league's fifth-best power play in 2014-15 in Columbus, will have input on the Lightning's struggling unit, which ranked 28th last season. Cooper has primarily run the power play, and that's likely to continue, with Richards adding another voice.

Yzerman indicated the rest of the coaching staff will return.

"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."

Richards went 127-112-21 in five seasons in Columbus, its first coach to rack up three straight winning seasons, but was fired after an 0-7 start this season, replaced by former Lightning coach John Tortorella.

While that gave Richards a chance to watch his sons Zac, an Ohio State junior, and Justin, 18, play hockey, he got the itch to return to the NHL. And after meeting with a couple NHL teams, including Detroit, following his stint with Team USA in the World Championships, Richards found the Lightning a perfect fit.

"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 said in a phone interview. "A lot of the players that you have, seem to be set up pretty nice. They've done a great job. Hopefully I can come in and add a little something."

Richards said he shares similar philosophies with Cooper, loving the fast and aggressive style they play. The admiration was mutual, Yzerman saying Richards was on "his radar" since he was let go by Columbus.

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

Richards' addition makes an experienced Lightning staff more seasoned, adding to associate coach Rick Bowness. Bowness, who led the team's defense and fifth-ranked penalty kill unit, said he has a couple years left on his deal is "not even close" to retiring. He liked the Richards' hire, though he'll miss Thomas, a 421-goal scorer and popular assistant since the 2013-14 season.

"(Richards) is a very good coach," Bowness said. "As much as we all hate to see Steve leave, he's a wonderful guy, wonderful coach, Todd's background helps us as well. He's a good addition."

And Richards, who has watched plenty of hockey on television since getting fired last fall, is ready to be back on the bench.

"I got the whole year off, it's a long six-seven months," Richards said. "It was nice to be a dad in the winter, be a husband. I was able to celebrate Christmas and watch my sons play. But you miss the competition, and this is what we do. From a player to a coach, I've done it for 28 years now. "

And year No. 29 will be with the Lightning.

notes: G Ben Bishop continues to work out at Amalie Arena, saying the left ankle/shin injury he sustained in the Cup final is getting better and won't affect his offseason work. ... Yzerman confirmed no players will need offseason procedures that will impact their camp availability. Yzerman had no update on Steven Stamkos negotiations, the captain set to be an unrestricted free agent July 1. "Our goal is to keep Stammer in Tampa and make it work," he said. "That's our plan."

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Comments
Lightning’s owes its penalty-kill success to the art of blocking shots

Lightning’s owes its penalty-kill success to the art of blocking shots

BRANDON — Defenseman Anton Stralman single-handedly preserved the tie when he stepped in front of the shot.Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had stopped the previous handful of pucks that Columbus fired at him during its first power play, but he wa...
Published: 10/15/18
‘Pucks had eyes’ for Lightning vs. Blue Jackets

‘Pucks had eyes’ for Lightning vs. Blue Jackets

TAMPA – Saturday, the Lightning made it look as if its first two games of the season never happened.Remember that  team that couldn't score more than one goal a game? It seemed all but a distant memory.The team that scored the most goals o...
Published: 10/14/18
Nick Kelly’s takeaways from Saturday’s Lightning-Blue Jackets game

Nick Kelly’s takeaways from Saturday’s Lightning-Blue Jackets game

So much for those issues on the power play. The Lightning spent about half of practice Friday working on its power play after failing to score on eight opportunities in its first two games of the season. The work paid off with four power-play goals a...
Published: 10/13/18
Updated: 10/14/18
Lightning gets scoring message, tops Blue Jackets 8-2

Lightning gets scoring message, tops Blue Jackets 8-2

TAMPA — In its first two games, the Lightning trying to score pretty goals produced only ugly results.It mustered two total goals through two games with that approach. So coach Jon Cooper made it clear after Thursday's loss to the Canucks: Go i...
Published: 10/13/18
Lightning journal: Rookie Mathieu Joseph has no fear

Lightning journal: Rookie Mathieu Joseph has no fear

TAMPA — Though Lightning F Mathieu Joseph shined in training camp and made the opening-day roster, his spot was not cemented in the lineup.But if he keeps playing how he has played early, he won't be going anywhere soon."The way he is playing t...
Published: 10/13/18
Lightning journal: Working on the power play

Lightning journal: Working on the power play

BRANDON — The Lightning wasted little time waiting to work on its power play once players stepped on the ice for practice Friday.The first drill: Working on the power play in separate groups on each rink at the Ice Sports Forum.The second drill...
Published: 10/12/18
What to do with those Lightning panic buttons

What to do with those Lightning panic buttons

TAMPA —Don't you have to have won the Stanley Cup to have a Stanley Cup hangover?The Lightning are 1-1. Given expectations, you'd think the sky was falling.Come with me if you want to live!Such is life after Tampa Bay's uninspired start. An und...
Published: 10/12/18
It starts with a bang and ends with a whimper

It starts with a bang and ends with a whimper

TAMPA — After Lightning coach Jon Cooper watched Brock Boeser at the All-Star Game in Tampa last season, he knew he would have his hands full when the Canucks came to town."What a talent he is," Cooper said.The right wing proved Cooper right wh...
Published: 10/11/18
Tom Jones: Late Lightning meltdown raises concerns

Tom Jones: Late Lightning meltdown raises concerns

TAMPAWell, this Lightning season sure isn't off to the start everyone expected.This is supposed to be the fun stuff — kicking ice and taking names. Running teams out of the building and scoring goals by the bushel. And wins. Lots and lots of ea...
Published: 10/11/18
Nick Kelly’s takeaways from Thursday’s Lightning-Canucks game

Nick Kelly’s takeaways from Thursday’s Lightning-Canucks game

That's how you want to start. After the Lightning had a lackluster first period Saturday vs. Florida, it all but dominated the first against Vancouver, outshooting the Canucks 17-5. Yes, the same Lightning team that did not register five shots in the...
Published: 10/11/18