As the Binghamton Senators’ 12th season is winding down and are at the cusp of a return trip to the AHL Calder Cup playoffs, is one person of interest that stands out in head coach Luke Richardson while concluding his second year at the helm along with assistant coach Steve Stirling by his side for the Senators. With six games remaining in the regular season, the B-Sens are currently out front in the East Division and third in the Eastern Conference with a 41-23-1-5 record. The club fell short last year being swept in three games in the first round to their interstate 81 rivals, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but look to go deeper this year as Richardson and his staff have an eye on winning it all this time around in returning the Calder Cup to Binghamton.
In the two season’s representing Ottawa Senators’ top affiliate in the Southern Tier of New York, Richardson has accomplished an impressive 85-47-1-13 AHL record that has many fans feeling good about the future.
Richardson Has The Tools For Player Development & Winning
B-Sens fans lately have enjoyed their success under Richardson’s camp as parent club Ottawa has been very effective in recent scouting signing a mixed prospect’s pool over the last three years such as players like Matt Puempel, Mark Borowiecki, Shane Prince, Mark Stone, Fredrik Claesson, Cole Schneider, Stephane Da Costa, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Cody Ceci and Ryan Dzingel to name a few. However, those mentioned don’t get very far without Luke’s guidance, as he has been often referred to as a player’s coach in getting the best out of his guy’s to not only succeed on the ice, but regrouping after a loss.
With the 2011 Calder Cup banner proudly hanging in the rafters at the downtown Arena, Ottawa has reversed the tide in years gone by as Binghamton was the team left to dry but is no longer an issue. Coach Kurt Kleinendorst went 42-30-3-5 that season good for 91 points and fifth in the East Division before his roster was depleted the following year. Now that there is depth in the organization with Ottawa continuing to draft well and retooling in their scouting efforts, Richardson has been given the keys to succeed and has done that so far record wise, but his biggest accomplishment by far, is watching his players develop and excel on the ice as well as off.
As far as future plans are concerned, Richardson has mentioned his desire to run the show if he was hired by any team in the NHL and not an option to be brought up as an assistant coach. Luke has already served in that capacity for the previous three years in Ottawa before he was hired to be behind the bench in Binghamton in 2012, much to the demise of many Ottawa fans in hoping for a return trip in helping solidify their pragmatic defense.
Luke Surrounding By Family, Staying Put For Now
As an NHL veteran for 21 seasons, Richardson hopes to make that next step in returning to the NHL but is in no hurry as he is now grounded with family surroundings in Binghamton, with his daughter Morgan attending college nearby as he shares his thoughts with TSN’s Ian Mendes when asked about his current situation last month;
“I’m really happy to be here. And I take a lot of pride trying to help these young players in the organization. So my answer is that I’m happy to be here and I’m signed for another year,” added Richardson. ”It really works well for my family with our daughter Morgan an hour away at Cornell and we get to see her a lot. It’s very unusual to be able to do that in the geography of the hockey world. We are fortunate to have that so right now, my answer is that I’m going to stay in the AHL.”
“For me, one of the best things is the proximity to my daughter Morgan, who’s an hour away (playing hockey and studying) at Ithaca. I’ve got to see a couple of games at Cornell, and Stephanie has gone up and done the typical college thing, the laundry and food and all that. Everybody is happy to see mom when they show up with the fresh laundry and food. It’s been really good for myself and my family.”
He won’t be in Binghamton forever, but for now he’s staying put as that possible future door in coaching in the NHL remains shut while he’s still gaining coaching experience in the AHL. That shows true character living up to his obligations to the Ottawa Senators Organization by serving his last year and not entertaining any offers from other interested NHL clubs that are drooling at the thought of hiring him for his services. Furthermore, Richardson goes on mentioning he’ll be happy to sign yet another year in Binghamton after his current extension expires if one is offered to him. That’s a bonus to any B-Sens fans.
Binghamton Hockey Fans Should Be Proud
Let’s be honest, while Bryan Murray and his staff have done a brilliant time in loading prospects in the system, it boils down to the man at the helm. Ottawa’s head coach Paul MacLean’s odd roster moves this season have been questionable despite his recent winning Coach of the Year honors in 2013, but bottom line is Big Mac failed to deliver this season in getting his club into the playoffs and will be under the microscope next season despite his recent contract extension. As Ottawa’s brass is very aware on what Richardson is putting together in Binghamton again this season as arguably in the city’s most successful coach in their 40+ year history and would tap that talent if and when the time is right for both parties.
As the community embraces Richardson and his family as well as the D.I.F.D. Mental Health Awareness movement, Luke brings professionalism unheralded in these parts as most coaches brought in are unknown. Not to say past coach’s for Binghamton are not professionals, otherwise they would not have been hired in the first place, but Luke’s reputation brings character and instant respect to the table from the players themselves and his staff to the front office for the fans, as well as opposing teams that is easily recognizable. With over 1400 NHL games played, Richardson has earned that respect and we should be so lucky to have him here in Binghamton and at the same time is a blessing for the entire Senator organization.
Insert’s courtesy Of Alicia Strauch. Cover courtesy of Jeff Ulmer.