Todd Richards will be calling Ohio home for quite some time.
Less than 24 hours after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said the club will offer Richards a long-term extension as head coach, on the heels of a season in which the Jackets set franchise records for wins (43), points (93) and won their first-ever postseason games.
“I told the coaches today that we, as an organization, would like to make a long-term commitment to the whole group of them, because they’ve earned it,” Kekalainen said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “It will bring stability to the organization.”
Stability is key. The Blue Jackets have had eight different coaches during their 14-year existence and, despite only being on the job for two years, Richards already ranks second in franchise history in wins (with 85) and first in postseason victories (granted, it’s only with two.)
Most importantly, Richards’ personality fits with Columbus’ overall philosophy.
Richards has impressed Kekalainen and club president John Davidson with his demanding, hard-working style that seems to resonate with players; the Blue Jackets aren’t a superstar-laden team, but reached the postseason this year and gave Pittsburgh a fight in the opening playoff round with a relentless, determined attack in which the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.
“He sets the bar high,” Kekalainen said. “We get better every day. A big part of that is (Richards), with his insights and his planning, the day-to-day requirement for work ethic that he has established for players.
“Todd doesn’t let guys take days off, and the assistants are the same way.”
Speaking of the Blue Jackets’ assistants — Craig Hartsburg, Dan Hinote and goalie coach Ian Clark — Kekalainen said they’ll also receive long-term deals similar to the one Richards receives.