Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen announced today that the team has agreed to a two-year contract extension with head coach Todd Richards. Richards is now signed through the 2016-17 NHL season. The Blue Jackets have taken a carefully calculated path with Richards, after the team had gained the reputation of being a dead end for most coaches. Richards took over as interim head coach on January 9th, 2012. The Blue Jackets game him a vote of confidence when they decided to sign him to a two year deal five months later.
What was implied in that initial deal, was that Richards had to prove he could be effective over the next two seasons. Richards nearly led the Blue Jackets to the playoffs in the lockout shortened 2013 season, falling just shy on the final day of the regular season. That objective was finally completed in this year’s recording breaking season that saw the Blue Jackets take the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins to Game 6. Richards’ coaching abilities were praised throughout the regular season, as well as during the series with Pittsburgh.
Kekalainen had this to say in his announcement of Richards’ extension:
Todd has done an outstanding job for the Columbus Blue Jackets and we’re pleased that he will continue to lead our team. We believe he is one of the top young coaches in the NHL because of his knowledge of the game, work ethic and ability to communicate well and bring out the best in our players. He’s played a significant role in our recent success and we look forward to having him continue to be a big part of our franchise moving forward.
-Courtesy of the Blue Jackets
With the positive finish to the 2013-14 season, it comes as no surprise that Richards has earned an extension with the franchise. While earning a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was an enormous accomplishment for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Richards and his team have their eyes set on turning Columbus into a Stanley Cup contender. This extension serves as a signal that the rebuild phase is finally over for the Blue Jackets and now the process of building a contender has begun.
I’m very excited to be a part of this club and I appreciate the support I’ve received from the McConnell family, Mike Priest, John Davidson, Jarmo Kekalainen and everyone at the Blue Jackets organization,” said Richards. “Our management group has done a fantastic job assembling a competitive team and we’ve definitely taken some very positive steps over the past two seasons. I’m looking forward to continuing to help this club grow and achieve its ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup championship.
-Courtesy of the Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets front office has used the philosophy of “brick by brick” in every move they have done since taking over the reigns of the franchise. Giving Todd Richards (and his staff) two more years to mold this young roster is just another carefully calculated step in turning this once basement dwelling team into a Stanley Cup contender.