Luke Richardson and Doug Weight go back two decades to when they were teammates on the post-dynasty Oilers. But Weight’s hiring of Richardson as the first of what could be several new hires to the Islanders coaching staff Thursday isn’t just about giving an old friend a new gig.
“We’ve talked about that a lot — we both want to win, we want to have success and neither of us would just hand someone a job because we knew them,” Richardson said. “Success is the biggest part for me. That’s the reason why I left my last job (with Binghamton in the AHL). At the minor-league level, winning and developing players have to work hand in hand. It can be hard to have the success you want.”
Richardson played 1,417 NHL games for six teams, retiring with the Senators in 2009. He moved right behind the bench with Ottawa the next season, then became their AHL farm team head coach in 2012, stepping away after the 2015-16 season to pursue NHL head coaching jobs.
“I applied for a few jobs, didn’t get them and had to reset a little bit,” said Richardson, who coached Canada to a Spengler Cup title last December. “And when I talked to Doug about this job, he was so excited coming off the success he had when he took over. It didn’t take a lot of convincing.”
Richardson was well-regarded in the Senators organization — he coached a healthy portion of the current Sens roster that is two wins away from reaching a Stanley Cup Final.
“He was a really great coach, a great teacher for a lot of us here,” Mike Hoffman said of Richardson recently. “I think if you ask any of the guys who played for him, we all learned a lot and were treated really well.”
Weight is considering adding two other assistants to the staff in his first full season as head coach. Kelly Buchberger, also a former Oilers teammate and longtime friend, is likely to join the Isles after the NHL Draft, according to multiple sources. Buchberger is still under contract with the Oilers as a player development coach.
And Scott Gomez, the former Devil and Ranger who retired prior to last season, is a candidate to join Weight’s staff as well, possibly to focus on the Isles’ inconsistent power play. Bob Corkum will not return as an assistant coach and Greg Cronin’s status is unknown for now.
So it will be a fresh approach for an Islanders team that struggled the first half of the season and was 24-12-4 under Weight, missing the playoffs by one point.
“They feel really good about the way they finished the year and there’s so much potential with the team,” Richardson said. “Obviously John Tavares is a world-class player and they have a lot of depth on defense. It’s going to be fun.”