Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Sheriff in Town

Todd Richards was an authoritative voice in his 1st practice
Todd Richards ran his first practice for the Columbus Blue Jackets today.  The difference was palpable.  Richards was firm and authoritative throughout the practice, and he clearly has some things he wants to change.  If a drill wasn't started the way he wanted it, he'd stop it and make them start over.  He worked the players hard.

It seems clear that he has changes in mind in defensive zone coverage, as well as on the offensive side.  A 5 on 5  D zone drill late in the practice got spirited, and he jumped in, insisting that the players on offense not concede anything.  The pace quickly picked up.

From my seat half way up the lower bowl, I could clearly hear him (and my hearing is nothing to write home about) telling the centers to 'get out there, no lazy circles' and telling them that the coverage he wanted was going to be hard work.  I don't know how the players felt about it, but it was music to this fan's ears.

Richards gets involved in a drill
Richards was a visible and audible force throughout the practice, directing drills, and making sure that they were happening at the pace he wanted.  They have a lot of ground to cover, and he worked them hard, and the players seemed to put a lot into the practice.

Of course, as everyone knows, RJ Umberger left practice with concussion symptoms.  Another injury, during a period where they seem to happen every day.  His string of consecutive games will be broken on Friday.  Isn't it time the NHL started taking a hard look at the head gear the players are using?  It doesn't seem to be working.

A gratuitous pic of 15 Derek Dorsett for Alison
Richards ended the practice with a mini-shootout competition, with apparently the stakes being the last person left without scoring had to pick up the pucks.  There was a good deal of spirit and some hilarity during this competition.  Unfortunately for rookie John Moore he was unable to can one, although Jared Boll had some nervous moments.  This was the official end of practice.  However, not one player left the ice, and they broke up into small groups to keep working on things with the coaches.  As I was burning leave time, I ended up bailing out at that point.
A gratuitous pic of 25 RyRuss for Dannie
Frankly, I was impressed by the tone Richards took in practice.  He spent some time talking to the players, clearly trying to influence their outlook.  He was demanding, and not afraid to make them do something over if he didn't like what he saw, and he was quick to point out what he didn't like.  He was also willing to tell them when they did well.  All in all, he was a real presence.

I get the feeling that having been fired once, Richards is darn sure he is going to do things his way, and get what he wants.  I really liked some of his initial comments about the 'need to play defense in this league'.  I couldn't agree more.  This team has underperformed defensively, but they have it in them to be a good defensive team.  One of Richard's prime attributes is a willingness to coach defense.  I think that will take him far.

First day, first impressions.  Maybe it won't go this way over the long run.  But I've watched Hitchcock practices, and I've watched Arniel practices.  This seemed distinctly different, and I think for the better.  It bodes well for this team.



  1. Gallos! You rock. I so wished I'd been at practice today! :)

  2. the only headgear that will stop it is headgear that crumples. think 70's cars vs todays cars. but then you give up the hard shell that stops pucks.


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