Montreal Canadiens: Looking back at Luke Richardson’s coaching history

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 20: New York Islanders assistant coach Luke Richardson during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Kathleen Hinkel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 20: New York Islanders assistant coach Luke Richardson during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Kathleen Hinkel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens will have another new face behind the bench in Luke Richardson who has been coaching professionally for 10 years.

The Montreal Canadiens coaching staff for the 2018-19 season is set. Claude Julien will be entering his second full year as the team’s head coach after joining them in February of 2017. Kirk Mueller is heading into season number two with the Habs while Stèphan Waite, coming off a new contract extension, is going into his fifth year as goaltending coach.

Dominique Ducharme and Luke Richardson are the new guys on the bench but will have important roles moving forward. It’ll be a rookie campaign for Ducharme in the NHL after having coached in the QMJHL and with Hockey Canada. Richardson, however, has been here before.

The Ottawa native wanted to give it one more shot in the NHL for the 2008-09 season. He signed a one-year contract with the Senators in hopes of filling into a depth role, but instead only saw two games. Richardson chose to retire making the announcement that November in order to pursue a career in coaching and the team he most recently played for game him that chance.

First Sniff

His interest in the field came at the hands of John Tortorella when he was part of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Richardson struggled to get in the lineup there as well, but Torts gave him an opportunity to do something other than work out all the time.

Richardson shared that story in a piece by the Peterborough Petes’ site:

"He came up to me when I was working out, I was trying to keep myself in top shape and I think he felt bad about it. He said, ‘I love how you played through your career, and I don’t want you to finish your career on a stationary bike. We need you to keep in shape.’ They were pretty well injury free, which hurt me but for the team, but he said, ‘Would you like to do some coaching responsibilities as you’re waiting to play, I need you mentally ready to go and physically, obviously ready to go if we need you, and in the mean time we will bring you in the coaches room.’"

During games, he would be up in the press box watching and then report to the coaching staff in between periods.

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Richardson was part of Ottawa’s staff for three seasons serving behind both Corey Clouston and Paul Maclean. What stood out the most was his work ethic and willingness to establish a true balance between the comfort of a player and acknowledging his role in the room.

"You can have laughs and jokes at certain times whether on the ice, in practice or game but when its on the line and the coach says something or needs something, its not time to fool around or fluff them off."

The Senators went 117-103-26 in the three years Richardson was behind the bench which included 2 trips to the playoffs. He transitioned over to the AHL becoming head coach of the Binghamton Senators in 2012.

The Bench Boss

Richardson coached up a young team with future NHLers Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau to a 44–24–8 record (second in the East Division) leading them back to the playoffs. The Senators would make it to the post-season the following year as well with the same number of points, but more offensive contributions from their players.

The next two seasons didn’t go as well for Richardson due to the graduation of some of his top players. He chose to leave the Senators organization at the end of the 2015-16 season.

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It was a more international scheme for Richardson’s next leg in his coaching career. He joined Team Canada’s staff at the 2016 Deutschland Cup. Canada went 2-0-1 at the tournament only losing to Slovakia which sealed their fate.

Afterwards, Richardson served as head coach of Canada’s team at the Spengler Cup. It didn’t start out well for them losing 7-4 to HC Dinamo Minsk, but they turned things around going undefeated all the way to their Gold medal-winning match against Germany.

Richardson returned to the NHL for the 2017-18 season joining Doug Weight‘s staff with the New York Islanders. Things didn’t go too well for them this past season as a 35-37-10 record had the Islanders finish 17 points back of a playoff spot.

Montreal is now his new home, and he’ll be tasked with building up some of the younger players on the team.

Victor Mete and Noah Juulsen will reap the benefits of having Richardson as a head coach. But it doesn’t end there. Brett Lernout, Xavier Ouellet, Mike Reilly, and even Karl Alzner may have their games improved with him managing them.

The same Peterborough Pete’s article from before described Richardson as articulate, wise, socially gifted, and a person who always knows what’s going on in and around the team.

Next: Managing Matchups Will Be Key

The Montreal Canadiens may not have had the big player addition over the offseason, but Marc Bergevin has done a good job in adding quality people to the management group. Perhaps the 2017-18 season won’t be as heart-wrenching as many are already expecting it to be.