For New York Islanders assistant coach Luke Richardson, his reunion with Doug Weight is a long time coming.
On Friday, the New York Islanders officially named Luke Richardson to the assistant coaching staff.
Richardson, 48, is best known for incurring 238 penalty minutes during the 1990-91 season. He boasts of an impressive résume, which includes stints as the Binghamton Senators’ head coach and Ottawa Senators’ assistant coach.
Perhaps most strikingly, Richardson and head coach Doug Weight spent five seasons together in Edmonton. By contrast, when Weight took over midway through last season, his assistants — Bob Corkum and Greg Cronin — had never previously played or coached with him (or former Isles skipper Jack Capuano, for that matter).
“It’s very exciting,” Richardson recently told NHL.com’s Cory Wright. “Dougie and I are former teammates and have been really close family friends for a long time.
This connection — and Weight’s rumored interest in former teammate Kelly Buchberger — indicates that the Isles’ ownership is giving their head coach full clout over the commissioning of his staff.
By comparison, when Garth Snow had seemingly more control over the hiring process, the Islanders’ assistant coaches tended to hail from the University of Maine, where the general manager attended college.
At face value, the notion that Weight has greater control over the hiring process should be a step in the right direction for the many fans who abhor Snow’s influence. In December, it was reported that the Isles are seeking a President of Hockey Operations to oversee Snow’s involvement, though nothing has emerged on that front.
Meanwhile, it’s important to weigh the merits of Richardson’s hiring. If nothing else, it gives Weight the peace of mind that his assistant coach is a hard working, knowledgeable guy.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together the last few years talking hockey and stuff, so we really know each other well and obviously keep up on what each other is doing,” Richardson said.
“So it was really exciting to get that phone call and it’s always great to be reunited with close ex-teammates and to have the chance to work together with the same mindset and work ethic. It’s going to be really exciting with a good, young team.”
In addition to offering praise for the 46-year-old Weight, Richardson also gave his defenseman a stamp of approval. This is noteworthy because the unit, led by Travis Hamonic, struggled tremendously in 2016-17 to keep the puck out of the net.
“I think to have a good nucleus of young defensemen – which the Islanders have a whole bunch of them – underneath these guys it’s a huge help to the whole organization, but especially the coaching staff.”
The hiring of Luke Richardson has success written all over it. But even if the veteran coach doesn’t perform as expected, it will still be an important addition, one that represents the Islanders’ newfound willingness to let their rookie head coach dictate his — and their — own story.