Justin Richards is coming back to Minnesota, but not to play for his well-known father’s alma mater. The 18-year-old forward for the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League verbally committed Monday to play for No. 1-ranked Minnesota Duluth in the future.
Justin Richards is the son of current Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards, who was previously head coach of the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets. Todd Richards was a defenseman for the Golden Gophers from 1985-1989.
“On my visit there, just hanging out with the guys, I felt like I really belonged there,” Richards told USHL.com. “I used to live in Minnesota and it just reminded me of what it was like to live there. They’re ranked No. 1 in the nation right now so they’re a good program, a good team and are producing players every year. I really liked the enthusiasm and drive of the coaching staff.”
Justin Richards, who turns 19 in March, in in his first USHL season and has three goals and five assists through 20 games with the Stars. The 5-foot-10, 188-pound, right-handed center previously played for the Ohio Blue Jackets U18, U16 and Bantam Major AAA programs.
Todd Richards, just the second head coach ever for the Wild, was with Minnesota for two seasons from 2009-2011. He was with the Blue Jackets for five-plus seasons from 2011-2015, initially being hired as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach midway through 2011-12. Todd Richards, the only Blue Jackets coach to ever win a playoff game, was fired seven games into the 2015-16 season.
“Growing up with my dad, it has been really helpful for me,” Justin Richards told the Lincoln Journal Star earlier this month. “He has been able to give me tips and criticize me on my game.
“It has definitely been beneficial,” Justin Richards said in the Journal Star. “I remember my games in Columbus, just having a tough game, that he would always tell me everything I was doing wrong, and nothing I was doing good. It always sucked to hear, but it definitely helped me in the long run.”