Lucky Luke home for holidays

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

Home for Christmas.

A lot of people take it for granted, but in the case of Senators defenceman Luke Richardson, he enjoyed every minute of the NHL's two-day holiday break in the schedule.

Richardson, a 38-year-old native of Ottawa, can count the number of times he's been home for Christmas in his 20-year NHL career on one hand, which is why being with the Senators this year is so special.

Following Sunday's victory in New York, the Senators went their separate ways. Once Richardson landed at the MacDonald-Cartier Airport, he drove to his west end home.

A REAL TREAT

"It's a treat for me and it's a lot less hassle for the family," Richardson said recently. "Two days isn't a lot of time and when you have to travel, you find yourself looking at your watch and thinking about when you are going to back.

"You don't want to indulge too much with turkey, beer or wine because you've got to play (today or tomorrow). It just makes it a lot easier and there's a lot less stress. I'll be right here ready to go with the team, instead of having to worry about meeting (the Senators) somewhere or the weather being a factor."

Richardson, his wife Stephanie and their children, Morgan and Daron, had a lot to celebrate during this holiday season.

After spending most of last year in the press box with the Lightning, Richardson's playing career is back on track with the Senators.

Many had Richardson, who signed to a two-way contract in the off-season, pegged to spend part of the season with the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton. But his strong training camp and tremendous work ethic earned him a spot in Ottawa.

Heck, he even scored a goal last week against the Bruins.

"It couldn't have worked out any better than it has for myself," said Richardson. "I have the chance to play on a great hockey team and I'm at home with my family and friends and we're enjoying this experience together.

"Last year, was a tough year, not only hockey-wise because I didn't play a lot, but it was also an adjustment because the family moved (back to Ottawa) and you're not there for everything. You're gone a lot anyway, but you want to have a home base at home."

Richardson isn't bitter with what transpired in Tampa. Lightning coach John Tortorella decided he could no longer use Richardson, so he asked the veteran blueliner to play the eye in the sky role.

MOTIVATION

The sudden benching has served as motivation for Richardson. He didn't want his NHL career to end in a press box. He wanted to have one more chance to win a Stanley Cup and wanted to be able to help a team do it.

"I felt I could have contributed last year and it was a great learning experience at the end of the year. I got some valuable coaching experience that probably wouldn't have happened any where else," said Richardson.

"When I came home last spring, I had it in my mind, watching the playoffs, that I could still contribute and help. I still had the passion. Once that's gone you know you're done, but I still had it and luckily it worked out.

"It could have easily not worked out, but the opportunity (GM) Bryan (Murray) and (coach) John (Paddock) have given me, has given me the chance to prove to everybody, and mostly to myself, that I had the will to play."

SERVING DINNER

Richardson wasn't only brought to Ottawa by the Senators for what he could contribute on the ice.

He's also a tremendous leader, well-respected in the dressing room and didn't forget his role in the community, even on an important holiday.

He and Stephanie had their family dinner on Christmas Eve so they could spend a couple hours at the Shepherds of Good Hope yesterday serving dinner to the less fortunate.

"We did that last year in Tampa, just the four of us by ourselves, and we just felt that it was nice to give back a little bit," said Richardson.


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