DKM Hockey Podcast

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm Happy and Angry

I don't often channel the Simpsons, but I have for this post.  I'm Happy AND Angry.  Today's announcement that Todd Richards had the "interim" portion removed from his title made me happy.  As I read what little I could find, the way the news broke made me angry.

As you guessed, I'm going to start with the angry.  The Blue Jackets did not interview for the position.  They received inquiries from 8 to 10 different folks, but no interviews were conducted.  I'm not mad Todd Richards is the head coach.  I'm not angry that the Blue Jackets didn't interview.  I'm angry that the Blue Jackets COULDN'T interview potential candidates for the head coach position.

Think about it folks, who would they have interviewed?  No active coach in the league is going to leave their head coaching or assistant coaching job to coach the CBJ.  That should show the fans that there's more to this organization being inept than just "Rick Nash."  Notice the air quotes around Nash's name.  There isn't a long time assistant that's looking at the CBJ roster going, "you know what, I can do something with that roster."  Granted, there is a shift in the coaching philosophies across hockey, but I wouldn't expect FANS to look at that too much.

So, if no current NHL head coaches or assistants are going to take the job, what else do you look at?  AHL or CHL coaches with no experience looking to crack into the NHL.  The Blue Jackets have tried that twice, both times coaches who were with successful AHL teams, and both ended badly for Columbus.  Why bring in another guy into his first NHL job when that hasn't worked out for the Jackets thus far?  There are no compelling reasons to conduct interviews when your candidates will mirror what has failed in the past.  Do you hear that CBJ fans, you're team can’t attract top talent, either on the bench or behind it.

Angry part number 2.  I don't know about you, but I wasn't surprised when the flagship station for the Columbus Blue Jackets didn't preempt the "Buckeye Show" to broadcast the Todd Richards presser.  You'd think you'd get a little help from your broadcast partners to get the fan base excited about this exciting announcement but, there's always hope this makes the sports page tomorrow.  Thanks 97.1 the Fan for letting me listen to Dimitrious Stanley talk about his week-long vacation on the west coast instead of hearing exciting Columbus Blue Jackets news.  This should make you livid as a fan.  I'm relegated to streaming low quality video feeds of a press conference the same way I stream free porn.  Way to bolster the CBJ in the market place, media.  Great Job.  I guess I know how the Toronto Raptors fans feel when they don't interrupt "The Leafs Show" at 1pm on a Monday to make a major announcement.

Umm, like, don't the Blue Jackets play in the ACC?

Now, onto my happy part.  The Blue Jackets found a coach with some prior NHL experience.  That's right boys and girls, Todd Richards was an NHL head coach for two seasons in Minnesota furnishing a very Blue Jackets-esqe record of 77-71-and-some-change coaching the Wild for two seasons.  They call him a "players" coach, which is funny because all of the other "Player Coaches" they've had are now scouts somewhere.  But Richards has the right attitude for coaching a kind of young team.  And "player's coach" is really secret code for, "He interviews well."  Ironic, I know.

Richards believes in a certain style of play, not necessarily a steadfast system.  This is a certain style of coaching that is becoming popular as hockey players today are phenomenal athletes.  No longer does a coach have to preach or dictate a system in order to get the most from his players top to bottom in the line-up.  Every body skates well, everybody shoots hard, everybody can contribute - if put in the right situation.  Richards understands the game very well, now he has to teach men, most of which had their educations stop somewhere around the age of 15, to see the game the way he does.  He does it by being a teacher and enricher.  I honestly believe as a coach, when things are at their worst, you have to be a teacher first.  Not coddle, but teach the game, boost confidence, and get the players to "buy in" as a team.  Not a tyrant, and not someone who cracks skulls.  When things are good and you're winning, that's when you demand excellence.

You must unlearn what you have learned.

But Todd Richards finds himself in a very difficult situation.  You need the right kind of hockey player to flourish under him.  The front office is going to have to give Richards the kind of players he needs to function in a creative team offense.  That brings me to my next point.  While the CBJ may have found the right coach to get them out of their decades' long funk, do they have the right front office to help the coach?  How long can the Blue Jackets afford to keep Scott Howson as GM.  I think it's a little unfair to ask any head coach to turn the corner with a perennial loser without goaltending and possibly its all-time leading scorer.  Now I'm angry again.

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