Todd Richards has taken bullet after bullet for his team early on this season. Maybe it’s because hes the coach and that is his job. Or, maybe because the Columbus Blue Jackets have had so many injuries. To the ire of many, myself included, Todd Richards has gone to bat for his team. However after the Blue Jackets lost again on Saturday night, Richards was done taking it on the chin for his team.Nov 7, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell (43) reacts during the game gainst he Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Richards, with his team down 4-2 with five minutes remaining in the third period routinely left 3rd and 4th line players on the ice, rather than going with one of his top two lines. Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, and Scott Hartnell rode the pine when, realistically, they should have been rolling line after line. Coach Richards was tired of the team’s “top” players not playing like top end talent – tired of their inconsistent, lackluster play. Its something Richards has had to deal with recently; his top players looking like the Columbus Blue Jackets circa 2011-2012, something that fans thought was long gone from this team and locker room.
There is no denying the Blue Jackets have been dealt a terrible hand to start this season. They’ve had injury after injury and some would say haven’t even been given a chance to succeed. However, these are world-class athletes, being paid to play a game and injuries can’t be a crutch the entire season. This team is as healthy as it has been the entire season (which isn’t saying much), and its time they are held accountable for their poor play. Everybody from Cam Atkinson to Sergei Bobrovsky. There are four players who do not have a minus rating and two of them are at an even zero. The only player currently playing worth his salary is Nick Foligno.
I have been giving Todd Richards a hard time as of late, but it has been falling on the ears of my 2-year-old son, who at this point in his young life only cares that cartoons are on the television 24/7. I have disagreed with the coach taking most of the blame, yes some of the blame should fall on his shoulders, however I have been a proponent of Richards laying into his team for their poor play. It seems all the advice I have been screaming at the television has somehow performed some magic osmosis and implanted itself into Todd Richards brain. Now I don’t know how it happened but there is really no other explanation, its science!
Here is to hoping the team listens up and listens up good, they have a short window to turn this season around and it is closing quickly. Todd Richards performed some witch doctor magic last year on basically the same team, he needs to find that same formula again this year and put it into action quickly. If he doesn’t this team and its fans are going to be in for one long winter.