|Scott Arniel is rumored to be recruiting ex-Minnesota|
coach Todd Richards to the CBJ staff
Let's look at Richards with eyes wide open and see what he would bring to the table.
Richards is another ex-jock, like Arniel, bouncing around between the Hartford Whalers and its Springfield Indians affiliate between the 1990-91 and 1992-93 season. He then finished out his playing career in the IHL from 1993-94 through 2000-2001 with a final swing through the Swiss-B league in 2001-2002.
Upon giving up the playing route, Richards jumped into coaching. He served as an assistant to former CBJ assistant and interim head coach Claude Noel at Nashville's AHL affiliate in Milwaukee for three seasons, then moved on to take the head coaching reins at Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a couple of seasons.
Richards' AHL resume is solid, assisting Noel on his one Calder Cup championship run and taking the WBS Pens to the finals in one of his two years. What I can't tell is whether that AHL success is a function of Richards' coaching prowess or the strength of the Predators and Penguins' respective farm systems. Surely, Richards isn't an idiot, because precious few idiots actually win championships as coaches. But there's a wide gap between "not an idiot" and "a really good coach."
After leaving the AHL for one season as assistant to Todd McLellan with the San Jose Sharks, Richards was lured by former Pittsburgh assistant GM Chuck Fletcher to be the head coach for the retooling Minnesota Wild.
|Richards' fit with Minnesota's roster was bad at best. |
Would his fit as an offensive coach in Columbus be any better?
Richards had two seasons (meaning Fletcher had an offseason in-between to plug holes and fill gaps) to make Pens Hockey work in the Twin Cities. How did they do - and how did they compare to the Blue Jackets?
- Minnesota: 38-36-8, 84 points, missed the playoffs
- Columbus (Hitchcock/Noel): 32-35-15, 79 points, missed the playoffs
- Minnesota: 39-35-8, 86 points, missed the playoffs
- Columbus (Arniel): 34-35-13, 81 points, missed the playoffs
It's not so much that he couldn't improve the team beyond his first season's effort, it's that he ran out of tools in his toolbelt. Recall that Richards bag-skated the Wild after a mid-October 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets.
That's right, a bag skate only four games into the season. That, my friends, is the sign of a desperate coach who is looking to shock his team out of complacency and into competitiveness. Did it work? Look at the records above.
To his credit, Richards tried everything else he could think of. Take a look at these quotes from March 25:
"You don't hear me behind closed doors, so it's a little bit different there," Richards said. "But I also think when you're at Game 65 or 60, there's certain things that a coach can do, but the players have all the power."They're sick of listening to me talk, and I've yelled at them enough." Because it wasn't working.
"They're sick of listening to me talk, and I've yelled at them enough. They know what's expected. It comes down to playing for each other and holding each other accountable."
Then, only two days later (and with roughly three weeks left in the season), Richards took an introspective tone:
Richards deflected talk of his job security, noting with some muted sarcasm that he always can tell how things are going by the questions he's asked by the media. He admitted how tempted he was to run a more taxing practice. "The guys, if you talk to them, to a man they're all embarrassed with the way the game went," he said. "They're disappointed with the way the end of the season is winding down, and they're hard on themselves. And, to be honest with you, I've been hard on 'em this year in certain instances. I didn't feel it was the time where I had to knock 'em down any lower."Is it possible for a guy to say, "I give up" any more clearly than that without saying the exact words? So perhaps getting fired was the best thing that could happen to the guy. Clearly, he left the Twin Cities a defeated man.
But know this: Richards was able to find sleep after a bad game Saturday. No matter what happens going forward, he will have peace of mind. He'll find sleep again.
"I have two kids, so you always want to be a role model to your kids," Richards said. "And I'm not perfect by any means. ... I made mistakes along the way. That's how you learn. But when I put my head on the pillow every night, knowing you can sleep and rest and relax? I have that. Obviously I want our team to do better. But, as far as the daily things I've done, I'm comfortable. I'm fine with that."
But what was the problem in Minnesota? Was it the personnel? Was it the coaching? Was it a mismatch between the two (because you can have decent talent and a decent coach, and sometimes it just doesn't click)? I won't pretend to have the answer to those questions. I can only look at Richards' stats and try to determine whether that makes him a good fit as an Arniel assistant in Columbus.
So let's presume that Richards would be slotted into the Boughner role of coaching forwards and the power play. I suppose it's possible that Arniel could shake up the coaching assignments, but it would be hard to do so when Brad Berry is entrenched as the defensive/penalty kill coach. Goalkeepers aside, the only other change would be bringing Dan Hinote down from the press box and hiring someone for that role. I just don't see Richards accepting that role unless it was the only offer he had. From anyone. Anywhere. That being said, it looks like Richards would play "the new Boughner" role.
With some help from En4cer45, I've been working through the offensive stats for both the CBJ and the entire league. One of these days, my larger work on this front will make up an "Out of Time" season recap article or two. Right now, though, I'll extract 2010-2011 numbers for the CBJ and Wild:
- Goals scored: 215 (25th in NHL)
- Shots attempted: 2,394 (21st)
- Shooting percentage: 9% (21st)
- Power play: 14.0% (29th)
- Goals scored: 206 (26th in NHL)
- Shots attempted: 2,148 (30th)
- Shooting percentage: 9.6% (8th)
- Power play: 18.2% (13th)
|I can't say that Richards is a BAD NHL coach, but his team's statistics|
show me nothing that indicate that he's a GOOD NHL coach.
So there you have it. A reasonably successful AHL coach, a middling-to-bad NHL coach, a coach of an even worse NHL offense than Columbus', a mis-cast coach considering the NHL roster he inherited and a man who ran out of ideas and, in the process, apparently lost the locker room before getting fired.
Is that what Columbus needs right now? More appropriately, is that what Scott Arniel needs right now? I say no. Give me
Who is that man? I don't know. But by the looks of it, Todd Richards doesn't appear to be it.
I'm all for redemption of the type that Boughner appears to be angling toward in Detroit (good luck with that), but I don't see it happening for Richards here in Columbus.
Not with his bona fides, not with this roster.
Please, coach Arniel, look somewhere else.