Seven years ago, Todd Richards and Dan Bylsma shared a bench in Northeast PA.
This coming February, they'll be sharing one halfway around the world, with their roles reversed.
It was announced on Tuesday that former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Todd Richards will join head coach Bylsma's staff for Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The announcement reunites one of the most succesful coaching duos in Penguins history on arguably the world's biggest stage.
Currently the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Richards was named the fourth head coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton history on August 6, 2006, and spent two seasons with the club, leading the Penguins to a 98-48-5-8 record. His 98 victories currently rank third on the team’s all-time list, while his .653 winning percentage places him first in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton history.
In his first season with the Penguins, Richards guided the team to a 51-23-2-3 mark, tying the team record for victories in a season and earning a spot behind the bench for the PlanetUSA All-Stars at the 2007 AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto. He and Bylsma, then his assistant coach, led the Penguins to the East Division regular season title in 2007-08 with a 47-26-3-4 record and a spot in the Calder Cup Finals against the Chicago Wolves.
Since leaving Wilkes-Barre, Richards has served as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks, and spent two seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Wild before joining Columbus as an assistant coach in 2011.
USA Hockey announced earlier this month that Bylsma would serve as the Olympic team's head coach. Bylsma spent two seasons as an assistant coach in Wilkes-Barre, and posted a 35-16-1-2 mark as the team's head coach during the 2008-09 campaign, before being promoted to Pittsburgh Penguins head coach.
In addition to Bylsma and Richards, current Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato and Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette will also serve on the Team USA coaching staff.
USA Hockey also announced that Andy Saucier will serve as the team's video coordinator. Saucier spent two seasons in the same position with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey ops staff prior to last season.
Two Wilkes-Barre/Scranton alums will also attend USA Hockey Olympic Orientation Camp August 26-27 in Washington, D.C.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik spent parts of three seasons in Northeast PA, recording 38 points (6+32) in 152 games between 2001-2004, and has gone on to appear in 631 games with Pittsburgh.
Forward Beau Bennett will also attend the camp after posting 14 points in 26 NHL games with Pittsburgh last season. He also put up 28 points (7+21) in 39 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton,was named WBS rookie of the year and was selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic.
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