Late daughter Daron inspires Canadiens coach Luke Richardson

When Chris Therien lost his sister in 2006, Luke Richardson was one of the first people there for support. Therien repaid that in 2010 when Richardson’s daughter Daron died by suicide at the age of 14.

“That broke my heart,” Therien said. “It broke a lot of guys’ hearts because we knew the character of a guy like Luke Richardson and what he meant to us as teammates and people.”

Therien was one of many to attend a memorial ceremony for Daron Richardson in Ottawa, an event that showed how much Luke Richardson mattered to the hockey community near and far. Eleven years later, Richardson has taken over as acting coach in Montreal and has the Canadiens a handful of victories from the Stanley Cup, with Daron on his mind and countless people around the sport glad to see him getting this opportunity.

“He’s always thinking of others, always thinking about how to better the situation,” said Toronto forward Nick Foligno, who knew Richardson for years before playing with and for him in the NHL. “There’s no surprise as to how his career has unfolded as a coach and how many people care about him. He’s a guy that I think every player that played for him or with him absolutely loved.”

The 52-year-old Richardson was thrust into running Montreal’s bench for Game 3 of the NHL semifinals against Vegas last week after interim coach Dominique Ducharme tested positive for the coronavirus and went into isolation. After a thrilling comeback victory in overtime, Richardson tapped the DIFD heart pin on his lapel that signifies the Do It For Daron youth mental health program he and his wife, Stephanie, started in their late daughter’s memory.

“Daron is always in my heart and in our hearts,” Richardson said. “I just thought it was a perfect time to pay a little tribute to her because we definitely miss her.”

Richardson played almost 1,500 NHL regular-season and playoff games as a defenseman and went immediately into coaching after hanging up his skates. How he and his family managed the grief of Daron’s death in November 2010 and beyond showed other players and coaches Richardson’s strength and willingness to put others first.

“I still don’t know how he handled it as well as he did because to have something like that happen, it shook everybody,” said Toronto’s Jason Spezza, who like Foligno played with and under Richardson in Ottawa. “He was very stoic about it, tried to share a little bit with us but also just tried to keep business as usual.”

Richardson and his wife turned their pain into public good through Do It For Daron at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health in the hopes of supporting children dealing with mental health concerns. More than 21,000 students have gone through the “Is It Just Me?” program, and Royal Ottawa Foundation interim president and CEO Cynthia Little said over $4.2 million has been raised over the past decade for youth mental health initiatives.

“It took on a life of its own,” Little said. “The community just rallied together and put their arms around embracing mental health.”

Richardson said his family’s hope was to “break through that barrier of stigma so young people don’t feel isolated” and to listen and help as much as possible.

Helping those around him is what Richardson has always done. Therien played with Richardson for five seasons with Philadelphia and considers him one of the top three teammates from his entire career.

“When you start getting yourself into that realm with me, you’ve left an impact,” Therien said. “He really, really left an impact on a lot of people in this league.”

That continues in coaching. Ducharme called Richardson a “true person and “the best teammate you can have.”

“He was always there for his teammates, and he’s the same way in life, or within the staff,” Ducharme said. “He’s got really good hockey knowledge, but also he’s that kind of guy you want to be going through adversity or facing obstacles, you want a guy like that on your side.”

Montreal’s Ben Chiarot said he and his fellow defensemen would “all go through a wall for Luke, and I think that’s the best compliment you can give a coach. We’d go through a wall for him because we know he’d go through a wall for us.”

Foligno learned that from a young age. He and his family moved in with Richardson in 1991 when dad Mike was traded to Toronto, and their rapport evolved when they became teammates in 2007 with the Senators.

Richardson was the no-nonsense wily veteran who would also host Super Bowl parties and other team gatherings at his house. Foligno fondly recalls dinners with Luke, Stephanie, Daron and their other daughter, Morgan, that helped him adjust to life as a pro.

“He was just so good to me,” Foligno said. “He’s able to relate with a 19-year-old and a 35-year-old. I think that’s why he’s such a good coach. He’s somebody that understands both those dynamics.”

Those dynamics are on display now after Richardson added up the experience of seven seasons as an NHL assistant sandwiched around a four-year stint as head coach of Binghamton in the American Hockey League.

“Experience always helps,” Richardson said. “I’ve been through pretty much every scenario other than probably getting to the finals of the Stanley Cup in this league.”

Two more victories in the semifinals would get Richardson and the Canadiens there. After Richardson figured his first game as an NHL head coach would be in the preseason not the third round of the playoffs, many former teammates hope this is a springboard to a job of his own.

“I just kept thinking as I see him there, ‘This guy should probably be running his own bench somewhere eventually in the NHL,’” Therien said. ”His time will come, I’m sure.”

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.