Columbus to make ‘long-term commitment’ to Richards, staff


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.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
Leave a comment

For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
Leave a comment

Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.