|Then-assistant coach Todd Richards looks on as rookie Ryan Johansen|
participates in drills at the opening of CBJ training camp
- The team is playing harder. It's not happening for entire games, not that I can discern, but the collective team effort is better than I recall seeing under Scott Arniel - at least the 2011-12 edition of Scott Arniel.
- Richards has no answers on defense or in goal, but I attribute that to a combination of the roster hand that CBJ GM Scott Howson dealt him and the injuries that peeled back a couple layers of precious skill and experience on the blue line.
- I'm not sure that Richards has answers on offense, either. Since he took over, the Blue Jackets have cleared the two-goal threshold three times (two four-point games and one three-pointer - all of Richards' wins thus far) - and that includes overtime games. So effort is great, but it doesn't mean a lot if more goals aren't happening.
- It looks like Richards is applying common sense. Nash and Carter weren't working under Arniel, so Richards split them up. Derek Dorsett has actually shown up to play on most every night all season, so Richards slapped an "A" on his sweater as a message to the seemingly blasé locker room. Derrick Brassard is getting another look as a means to help fire up an anemic offense. None of these moves were rocket science, but Arniel couldn't figure them out over 50-ish games...so Richards looks good by comparison.
- I won't shrink away from the fact that I really, really didn't want Richards on the Blue Jackets staff. I honestly didn't think that he was going to be a good "veteran" (as much as a two-season NHL head coach can be a veteran) shoulder for Arniel to lean upon, and a guy who proved in Minnesota that he couldn't coach a team through the transition to an up-tempo offense -- OK, well, the Blue Jackets backed off Arniel's "unlimited pasta bar" offense. A 3-7-1 record isn't helping change my mind, regardless.
- At the same time, Richards appears to have learned from the experience of getting the heave-ho in Minnesota. By that, I mean attitudinally. I expected a bag-skating hot-head from what I had read about him with the Wild and instead got a somewhat bemused...observer...of his hockey team. I mean, how many times have we heard this from Richards: "What team will we see tonight? I don't know." Of course, that could be the position of a man who is serving as interim head coach and has no interest in sticking around town after the last game.
DA COMMISH SPEAKS - I caught the "NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman" on XM satellite radio over the weekend (the 2/2/12 edition - you can get a free copy of the podcast on iTunes here) and noticed that he ran through Columbus' 2013 All-Star Game (with a few compliments thrown the way of the city, the arena and the Arena District) and "clock-gate." The clock-gate comments were interesting insofar as how Bettman is going about the investigation.
He also pointed out the obvious potential for error and mistakes in every game, saying something to the extent of: "If something can go wrong, it will." I only wish he had concluded the sentence with, "And if the Columbus Blue Jackets are involved, it's even more likely."
ONE AWESOME READ - Scott Lewis at The Score.com offers up a mashup of the 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets and the neo-classic movie "Stand by Me." Yeah. So I suggest you just read it. I'm sure Lewis won't mind my using one of his photo(shops) as a teaser...
ONE COOL VIDEO - Working off a Tweet from En4cer45, I saw this brief video. Pretty cool, and worth sharing: