Steady Hand

by Rich M on December 17, 2013 · 0 comments

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A characteristic of a good organization is stability not only in the front office, but also within the coaching ranks. The franchises that win on a regular basis are the ones that have continuity and an ownership group that doesn’t meddle. Obviously having a lot of talent helps, but the right personality behind the bench or on the sidelines can make or break a team. A characteristic of the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets is complete instability. Since they joined the NHL in 2000, they’ve had 8 different head coaches. Since 2000, the New England Patriots have won 3 Super Bowls, 5 AFC championships and have 11 playoff appearances with Bill Belichick in control. Like him or not, the numbers tell the story. While I’m not personally a fan of the NBA, Gregg Popovich started in San Antonio in 1996 and during that time, he’s won 4 NBA titles.

All of that brings me back to the Blue Jackets and their present situation. Todd Richards took over on January 10, 2012 after Scott Arniel was fired and was given the interim tag. The Jackets were 11-25-5 up to that point. After Richards took over, they finished the season 18-21-2 and gained a new level of respectability that was missing. They started to form an identity. Since Richards took over on an interim basis, the CBJ traded Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson and a draft pick. Then at the trade deadline in 2012, they traded Antoine Vermette and Sammy Pahlsson for Curtis McElhinney and draft picks. Those 2 players were keys players in the franchise’s only playoff appearance in 2008-09. The Jackets finished the season with Rick Nash, but it was obvious that there was a trade brewing which has changed the whole dynamic and attitude of the organization. I will never bad mouth Rick Nash or his demand for a trade. I still sympathize how hard it must have been to make that demand. But it has been the turning point for this franchise and really allowed Todd Richards to gain control of this team and help to build a new culture.

Todd Richards brings calm to the players that can’t be taught. He doesn’t stand on the bench and rant like a moron like John Tortorrella. He’s calm, calculated and very confident in the team he puts on the ice every night. When there’s adversity, he doesn’t hit the panic button and scratch anyone that has a bad game. Seldom has he lost his composure and when he does it can be argued that it’s warranted. He had a failed coaching stop in Minnesota where he was admittedly too friendly and conceded his beliefs to make the players happy. He vowed not to make the same mistake in Columbus and so far has done an outstanding job. Last year he took a team of outcasts to ONE regulation win of making the playoffs. A team that everyone picked to finish dead last. They became everybody’s 2nd favorite team in the second half of last season because of the passion and anger he got them to play with. The team this year is riddled with injuries and plenty of excuses to fall back on if they fail. Going into the game on Saturday night with St. Louis, they had lost 144 man games to injury, yet they remain only 3 points out of the playoffs. None of this matters to Todd Richards and he’s proven to be a steady hand in an insanely unsteady organization. I hope for the sake of the fans and franchise that this guy can be behind the bench for years to come.

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