Blue Jackets extend head coach Richards

The Columbus Blue Jackets agreed to a one-year contract extension with coach Todd Richards Friday that will keep him behind the bench through the 2014-15 season.

Richards led the Blue Jackets to a 24-17-7 record last season and a ninth- place finish in the Western Conference only a year after Columbus had the league's worst record.

"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," Columbus 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."

The 46-year-old Richards is 42-38-9 in 99 games in Columbus since taking over for Scott Arniel as an interim coach in January 2012. Following the 2011-12 season, the Blue Jackets made Richards the sixth full-time coach in team history after agreeing to a two-year pact.

"I am very excited about the future of our team and I appreciate the support I've received from the McConnell family, Mike Priest, John Davidson, Jarmo Kekalainen and everyone at the Blue Jackets organization," said Richards. "We have made a lot of progress on the ice, but there is still a lot of work to be done and I'm looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead."

Richards was the second coach in Minnesota Wild history before taking over in Columbus. He compiled a 77-71-17 in two seasons from 2009-2011.

He also coached the 2008 Calder Cup-champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who he guided from 2006-08.