TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Todd Richards as an assistant on coach Jon Cooper's staff.

Vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced the move Tuesday.

Richards most recently served as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and previously coached the Minnesota Wild. He replaces Steve Thomas, who spent the past two seasons with the Lightning.

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The 49-year-old Richards has more than 400 games of NHL head-coaching experience and has coached for USA Hockey at the world championships and Olympics. He was an assistant for the San Jose Sharks when they won the Presidents' Trophy in 2008-09.

Richards had been considered a top candidate for several assistant coaching vacancies this offseason after being fired by Columbus in October.