Canadiens assistant coach pays tribute to late daughter after Game 3 win

Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson's daughter is never far from his thoughts — or his heart. Richardson, who took over as head coach for Montreal's 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, paid tribute to Daron Richardson after the win.

'Daron is always in my heart,' says Luke Richardson, who took over as Montreal head coach

Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson took over as the team's head coach for Friday's Game 3 win. Richardson wears a pin on his lapel in memory of his daughter, Daron, who died by suicide in 2010 at age 14. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Luke Richardson's daughter is never far from his thoughts — or his heart.

The Montreal Canadiens assistant coach wears a pin on his lapel in Daron Richardson's memory every time he steps behind the bench after she died by suicide in 2010 at age 14.

Richardson took over as head coach for Montreal's 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday after Dominique Ducharme tested positive COVID-19 test hours before Game 3. In the moments immediately following the win, he made sure to gently tap and blow a kiss to the reminder on his chest.

"It feels like a long time ago," Richardson said Saturday of Daron's death. "But sometimes it feels like yesterday.

"I just thought it was a perfect time to pay a little tribute to her."

The pin the 52-year-old attaches before every game is in honour of the Do It for Daron movement and its focus on youth mental health that started through the Royal Ottawa Hospital in the aftermath of his daughter's passing.

"Important discussions that we need to have," said Richardson, who was an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators from 2009 through 2012. "It's not an easy conversation, but we're proud of what the organization has done.

"Daron is always in my heart, and in our hearts."

Friday's win, his first as an NHL head coach, gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead over the Golden Knightsin the best-of-seven semifinal.

WATCH | Canadiens take 2-1 series lead over Golden Knights:

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Montreal edges Vegas 3-2 in overtime with Josh Anderson's winner. The Canadiens take a 2-1 series lead.

With Ducharme out, Richardson didn't miss a beat with the help of fellow assistants Alexandre Burrows and Sean Burke as the Canadiens recovered from a tough start — they were outshot 30-8 through two periods — to maintain home-ice advantage ahead of Sunday's Game 4.

"It's very inspiring," second-year Montreal centre Nick Suzuki said of Richardson's journey. "He's been a great coach for me. I've learned a lot."

A veteran of nearly 1,500 NHL games as a bruising defenceman, Richardson is in his seventh season as an NHL assistant. He also spent four years in charge of the AHL's Binghamton Senators.

Richardson raised a glass to Daron along with his wife, Stephanie, late Friday, but the couple's other daughter, Morgan, a high school teacher in Boston, couldn't be there because of pandemic border restrictions.

"We're proud of both the girls," Richardson said. "Daron in our hearts and Morgan, we're thinking of her as well, not being able to be here. Stephanie and I enjoyed the evening and took it all in.

"It's definitely very special."

WATCH | Canadiens coach Ducharme in isolation following positive COVID-19 test:

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In the heat of the playoffs, the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Dominique Ducharme, is out after testing positive for COVID-19 and it’s raising questions about the risks it poses to the entire team.

Ducharme's status remains unclear

Richardson didn't have an update on when Ducharme will be allowed to return behind the bench, but simply going by NHL and Quebec government protocols, it seems unlikely he'll be back before the end of the third round.

"He's missing being with us," Richardson said. "And we miss having him."

WATCH | Canadiens coach Ducharme in isolation following positive COVID-19 test:

Marc-Andre Fleury's error sends Game 3 into overtime

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Marc-Andre Fleury goes behind the net to play the puck but coughs it up and Josh Anderson buries the gift from the Golden Knights netminder to tie the game 2-2 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.

Canadiens centre Eric Staal, meanwhile, was impressed with how the assistant coaches managed Friday.

"If it's going to be Luke for a while yet in that situation, we're comfortable with that," said the 36-year-old. "We're all in this together."

Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Phone) | 45645 (Text, 4 p.m. to midnight ET only) crisisservicescanada.ca

In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

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