When there’s a coaching vacancy in the NHL, Binghamton Senators bench boss Luke Richardson’s name is often brought up, but it appears he’ll be back in the AHL for at least one more season.
According to a report from the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, Richardson has been offered a new contract that would keep the former NHL blueliner in the AHL. Some believed that the coaching gig in Buffalo, which has ties to Ottawa through GM Tim Murray who was formerly an assistant GM with the Senators, was the most likely landing spot should Richardson make the jump to the big leagues. With former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma being named the Sabres’ new coach, however, it appears Richardson’s options may have dried up.
As Garrioch reports, the Sabres had never officially requested permission from the Senators to speak with Richardson, but speculation is they would have had the deal with Bylsma fallen through. Richardson, who was an NHL assistant coach for three seasons with the Senators before taking the reins for the AHL Senators, has become a highly regarded coach by many around the league. His work in Binghamton over the past three seasons hasn’t produced a Calder Cup-winning team, but he’s made a roster that doesn’t boast many top-flight stars into a competitive club each season.
This past campaign was his worst yet behind the Binghamton bench, but it was also one in which he lost most of his young stars to either the NHL or, in Stephane Da Costa’s case, the KHL. In past years, Richardson has helped develop players who have become fixtures of the Senators roster, such as Mark Stone, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Mark Borowiecki and Patrick Wiercioch.
In 2014-15, his top scorer was 21-year-old Shane Prince, who scored 28 goals and 65 points in 72 games. In THN’s Future Watch issue, Prince wasn’t a top-five prospect for the Senators, which could be a testament to how much Richardson was able to get out of the young left winger.
Over his three full seasons as Binghamton’s coach, Richardson has led the club to a total record of 122-82-24 with two post-season appearances. However, in both seasons the Senators made the playoffs, they were eliminated in the first round. Last season was the first in which his club didn’t make the post-season under his watch.
While terms of an AHL deal are uncertain, Richardson will likely be an NHL coaching candidate once again as soon as a position opens up. But as for the beginning of the 2014-15 season, it looks like he’ll be starting the year down on the farm.