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Columbus coach Richards inks two-year extension

May 27, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

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After leading Columbus to the most successful season in franchise history, head coach Todd Richards has been rewarded.

Richards, 47, signed a two-year contract extension on Tuesday, agreeing to coach the Jackets through the 2016-17 campaign. The deal was more than deserved after Richards led Columbus to a franchise-best 43 wins this season, and orchestrated the club’s first-ever playoff victories in a spirited opening-round series loss to Pittsburgh.

“Todd has done an outstanding job for the Columbus Blue Jackets and we’re pleased that he will continue to lead our team,” Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “We believe he is one of the top young coaches in the NHL because of his knowledge of the game, work ethic and ability to communicate well and bring out the best in our players.”

Locking up Richards through the next three years keeps a good chunk of Columbus’ core in place, as the likes of Nathan Horton, Jared Boll, James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin are locked in through ’17 as well.

That said, Kekalainen still has a very busy summer ahead of him as he needs to reach a new deal with arguably the team’s most important forward — RFA center Ryan Johansen — and may be forced to trade alternate captain R.J. Umberger, who struggled last season and fell out of the rotation, serving as a healthy scratch on a number of occasions.

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