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Jackets sign coach Richards to extension

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Todd Richards got a vote of confidence from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

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The club signed Richards to a one-year contract extension through the 2014-15 season.

The 46-year-old Richards has a record of 42-38-9 in his 99 games with the Blue Jackets, including a 24-17-7 mark and franchise-best .573 winning percentage in 2012-13. The club, which was last in the NHL after its first 19 games, went 19-5-5 to the finish and tied for eighth in the Western Conference, missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker with Minnesota.

``We believe Todd is one of the top young coaches in our game and he has had a steadying influence on our team since taking over as head coach in January 2012,'' Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. ``The hard work put in by Todd and our coaching staff has been a big reason for our team's improved play and we are excited that he will continue to serve as our head coach.''

Richards went 77-71-17 in two seasons as the head coach of the Wild in 2009-11. Hired as an assistant coach in Columbus, he took over when Scott Arniel was fired midway through the 2011-12 season, taking over a team that was 11-25-5, and went 18-21-2 the rest of the season.

This past year, the Blue Jackets became known as a relentless, physical team - just what Richards had hoped.

``I always want to be known as a hard-working team. To me, it doesn't matter the skill that you have,'' he said after the season. ``Our work ethic and how we stayed with it for 60 minutes became our identity.''

Earlier on Friday, Richards lost his top assistant when Keith Acton left to become associate coach of the Edmonton Oilers. Current assistant Dan Hinote is the most likely candidate to replace him behind the bench.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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