Jumping from the AHL to the NHL is going to be a change for brothers Teddy and Josh Richards — both of whom took jobs as assistant equipment managers this summer — but it’s not going to be the biggest difference the two will face when the season opens this fall.
For the first time in more than 10 years, the Richards brothers will be working for different teams.
On July 1, Teddy Richards started in his new job as assistant equipment manager for the Pittsburgh Penguins, leaving a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team where he had worked since 2002, first as an assistant and then as head equipment manager for the last seven years.
A few weeks after his older brother made the move to the NHL, Josh Richards, 24, followed, taking a job with the Dallas Stars where he will serve as equipment assistant. The younger Richards has been with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton since 2001, starting out as a stick boy, or locker room attendant, before moving up to assistant equipment manager and working under his brother.
Now, for the first time in years, the Richards brothers are climbing a new rung on their career ladders, and they’re doing it apart from each other.
“Not many people get to work with their brother and it’s definitely going to be a change,” Josh Richards said. “But at the end of the day, we’re both in the NHL and our family is very proud.”
Family is what got the Richards brothers their start in pro hockey. Their father, Ted Sr., was the bus driver for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the first two years of the franchise’s history until he passed away in 2001. With both of his sons moving to the NHL, this season will be the first where a Richards family member isn’t working for the AHL club.
But they’ll still be involved in pro hockey.
“Being in the NHL and with Pittsburgh is where I wanted to be,” Teddy Richards said. “With a son and a daughter, it had to be the right fit for my family, and Pittsburgh is perfect.”
For both brothers, the career change came rather quickly. Teddy Richards said his move up to Pittsburgh was briefly discussed last year, but nothing came of it until he got a call from Pittsburgh assistant general manager Jason Botterill in June.
Botterill asked if he was interested in becoming the team’s assistant equipment manager and told Richards to take a week or two to think it over.
“I already knew I wanted it. Still, my wife and I weighed the pros and cons, and it was all pros, so the decision was made,” he said.
Josh Richards caught wind of the Dallas opening through a friend and quickly applied. He interviewed for the post while attending equipment manager union meetings in Las Vegas. At the beginning of July, he went to Dallas to work their summer prospect camp as a tryout of sorts.
With three days left in camp, Dallas offered Richards the job.
“They wanted someone with experience and my time in Wilkes-Barre certainly helped,” he said.
Both brothers not only credited their time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for opening up the NHL door. After so many years at the AHL level, the Richards brothers will certainly face new challenges working in the NHL.
“The spotlight on these players is a lot brighter here, and it’s not going to be excusable to have something go wrong with a skate during a game,” Teddy Richards said. “It’s my job to be at my best for these players and provide whatever they need.”
While Josh Richards is moving to a new organization, he’ll see some familiar faces in former Penguins Alex Goligoski and Toby Petersen. But change is something he is very familiar with, thanks to his time in Wilkes-Barre.
“Working here has taught me to be a people person. You have to deal with players and coaches, and it’s basically a new roster every year,” Josh Richards said. “Being in the NHL is something my brother and I have dreamed of, and finally it’s our time.”
Perhaps the biggest change the brothers will face this season is seeing each other on opposite benches when Pittsburgh plays Dallas. Still, it won’t feel like a change for long as the brothers are already planning a reunion when the teams meet.
“It’s going to be different not working with my brother because he was always there and we knew each other’s routines,” Teddy Richards said. “We both were born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, and it’s all we’ve known, so not only will we be learning the routines of the new staffs we’re working with, we’ll be learning new cities and growing in our new roles.”