KANATA, Ontario — Islanders assistant coach Luke Richardson finished his 21-year NHL career with the Senators. He stepped behind the bench immediately after retiring and was a Senators assistant for three years before taking over Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton for four seasons.
“And it’s my hometown, too,” Richardson said of the anticipation he was feeling for Saturday night’s game against Ottawa. The first-year Isles assistant left the Senators’ organization after the 2015-16 season, and Saturday night was his first time back at Canadian Tire Centre with his new team.
“I’ve got lots of people that’ll be at the game, so it’s always fun,” he said. “It’s a good team, too. We haven’t seen them this year. Be nice to get another benchmark for our team. They had a lot of success last year, and that’s where we want to go.”
Richardson is in charge of the defense for Doug Weight, his former Oilers teammate during their playing careers. Weight tried to bring Richardson in as an NHL assistant a few seasons ago under Jack Capuano, but Richardson remained coach of the Senators’ AHL team. He was the first pro coach for a handful of Senators players who faced the Islanders on Saturday.
The Isles came into Saturday allowing 3.27 goals per game, seventh most in the NHL, but Richardson has been pleased with how his group of defensemen has started the season.
“We’ve got a unique situation. We’ve got eight D that are NHL D. We’re not trying to fit young guys in, guys that aren’t playing well,” he said. “Sometimes it’s tough to keep everybody happy, but it’s a good problem to have. The biggest thing is they all add to the offense. When you’ve got a world-class guy like Nick Leddy to lead that charge, you’re confident you can make up some ground if one does creep in on you.”
Hickey, Quine back in
Thomas Hickey took Dennis Seidenberg’s spot after sitting out the previous two games as a healthy scratch. Weight did not swap out both sides of his third defense pair, as he’s done before, keeping Ryan Pulock in street clothes.
Ottawa native Alan Quine also got back in after sitting out the past two, taking Anthony Beauvillier’s spot as the third-line center between Brock Nelson and Josh Ho-Sang.
Shane Prince (ankle) is with the Isles and is getting physical practices in before the team decides to activate him off injured reserve and send him to Bridgeport on a conditioning stint.
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