With their long-range target already in sight — a playoff berth next Spring — the Islanders have started what figures to be a chain reaction of positive moves from here to training camp.
The opening decision was the naming of Luke Richardson as Assistant Coach under Head Coach Doug Weight.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 18, 2017
Meanwhile, the Sabres new General Manager, Jason Botterill, continues his pursuit of a bench boss to replace Dan Bylsma.
While it was rumored for at least a week, the hiring of Richardson, 48, looms as a major plus for the Brooklynites.
High among the move’s assets is the fact that Weight and Richardson figure to unite like perfectly-meshed gears.
“Luke brings a tireless work ethic and outstanding character to our organization,” said Weight in a prepared statement. “He’ll have his hands on every aspect of the team, including our systems, skill development and team culture.
“His coaching experience, including four years running an organization as Head Coach in Binghamton, make him an excellent addition to our staff.”
On the Sabres side, according to Buffalo News reporter John Vogl, Jason Botterill would like to have a coach in place before the June Draft. Having a coach with previous NHL experience may be useful, but not a priority.
“It’s not a necessity,” Botterill told Vogl, “but I do see it as value. You can develop as an AHL coach, but the scrutiny from fans, media and the organization at the NHL level; how do you handle that?
“The expectation to win is much greater. That said, I’m not going to limit who we look at.”
Among the names being bruited about include Ralph Krueger, former coach of the Edmonton Oilers who led Team Europe to the title game at the World Cup of Hockey.
Krueger’s name has been discussed by several teams, although he now is chairman of the Southampton Football Club in the English PremierLeague.
Meanwhile, Ryan Kennedy, writing in The Hockey News, suggests that the Washington Capitals associate coach, Todd Reirden, would be a good candidate for the Sabres head coaching position.
Reirden also has a Buffalo past, having been an assistant under Bylsma.
As for Richardson, his lengthy NHL workmanlike career inspired kudos galore.
As a player, Richardson appeared in 1,417 regular-season NHL games from 1987-2008 with six different teams, totaling 201 points (35 goals, 166 assists). The defenseman added eight assists in 69 Stanley Cup playoff games. Richardson won gold with Team Canada at the 1994 World Championship and added a silver medal in 1996.
What did critics think of Richardson, the player? Andrew Podnieks, author of “Players: The Ultimate A-Z Guide Of Everyone Who Has Ever Played In the NHL,” offered the following appraisal.
“Edmonton turned him into a solid defenseman and, in Philadelphia, he positively shone. Imagine the irony when, in the summer of 2000, he became a free agent. Not only did Toronto seek his services, it was prepared to offer $2-million a year!
“As it was, he re-signed with the Flyers, and although he did not have a spectacular career, Richardson made himself at home in the NHL with his physical play and his play inside his own blue line.”
Among Richardson’s traits, a few stand out for The Maven.
One was — and is — that he sees things clearly and sees them whole. Plus, he possesses superior hockey insights and, last but not least, Richardson’s personality will work wonders with the young Islanders and veterans.
My own experience with Luke goes back a long way. But if four little words can sum up the Islanders superior addition, here they are: he’s a class act!