Columbus coach Scott Arniel says he was looking for someone with head coaching experience to fill the job and he respects Richards, who was fired by Minnesota earlier this year.
Richards became Minnesota's coach in 2009 and led the team to a 77-71-16 record during his tenure. Before joining the Wild, he was an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks for a year and coached in the American Hockey League.
He had played for the University of Minnesota from 1985 to 1989 and was drafted by Montreal. He spent most of his 13 seasons as a player in the AHL and the International Hockey League.