Lightning hire ex-Columbus coach Richards as assistant

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The Lightning are adding some more coaching experience to Jon Cooper’s staff.

Tampa Bay announced that Todd Richards has been hired as an assistant coach. He’s replacing Steve Thomas, whose contract wasn’t renewed.

Richards has 424 games worth of experience as an NHL head coach between his stints with the Minnesota Wild and Blue Jackets. His tenure with Columbus ended on Oct. 21 after the team got off to a 0-7-0 start. Over his career, Richards has a 204-183-37 record.

One area where he might be of particular use is with the man advantage. As the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith noted, Columbus ranked fifth in the league in 2014-15 with a 21.7% power-play conversion rate while the Lightning were 28th in 2015-16.

Richards was believed to be on the Red Wings’ radar as well for their vacant assistant coaching job. Detroit also got permission to talk to ex-Senators coach Dave Cameron, so perhaps Richards going to Tampa Bay will lead to Cameron signing with Detroit in the near future.