Richards' Last Stand

You keep playing this way, you won’t beat anybody who’s even good, let alone great! You wanna make this team? Then you better start playing at a level that’s gonna FORCE ME to keep you here! AGAIN!

-Herb Brooks, Miracle

He said: As reported by Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, the Wild players were put through a brutal practice on Sunday that included a 20 minute bag skate. Despite being 1-2-1 and only 4 games into the season it is clear that neither Chuck Fletcher nor coach Todd Richards will tolerate a repeat of last season. What’s also clear is that Sunday’s practice will be the determining factor as to whether or not Richards loses his job.

She said: A totally brutal practice for The Wild, and well deserved. It does not matter to me that they are only 4 games into the season. They need to get the lead out of their asses hockey pants, and legs, and start competing like a true NHL team. Fletch needs to put the pedal to the metal, and either make something happen with this team, or have a fire sale. [see any aisle at the X as being an acceptable place for the sale, since there will be so many empty seats at the X now] Firing Richards is not the answer. He has put a great system out there. The players are the issue. Are we supposed to fire Richards, hire another coach, learn yet another new system, and think this will solve the problem? It will only give us a reason to justify their laziness out there. [see "new system, they have to get used to it, they just need time, AGAIN"]

He said: Richards seems to have been the favorite for the Wild job from the moment Fletcher was hired. He had been the coach of the Penguins AHL affiliate, working under Fletcher, prior to taking a job on Todd McLellan’s staff in San Jose. While in hindsight you can look at Dave Tippett’s success in Phoenix and Peter Laviolette’s run to the Stanley Cup Final’s with Philadelphia and say one of them should have been hired, Richards was the ideal choice to bring in the system Fletcher wanted the Wild to play.  Unfortunately the change to that system has not been a smooth one. As a fan I have have never been quick to call for a coach’s head. Typically I give a coach 2-3 seasons to establish if they can do the job or not. I don’t know if its the inconsistent play, the end of the sellout streak, or something else that Fletcher is privy to, but Richards is not going to get that long. Sunday’s practice is the proof.  Russo writes:

With General Manager Chuck Fletcher watching from above, an angry Richards set the tone immediately when practice began by lighting into the players for their lack of battle the night before. He said they’d spend the practice battling until they “get it.”

I don’t think there was any imagery in Russo’s fantastic article that came across more clear than that. Its almost like a scene out of a movie as the boss overlooks the arena knowing he’s going to have to make a tough decision.

She said: Regardless of  how it started last year with Richards, he is indeed our coach. How many new systems should we put out there for our boys? How many? This is ludicrous to me. I am to the point of being upset with the whole fire Richards antics. It will not help the team, it will only hinder it. Half the team is still stuck in the boring Lemaire system at some point, in every game. You can see it! Richards needs to push them harder. Remember last year, there was a couple nasty practices also. (definitely not as brutal as a 20 minute bag skate, but tough) I remember hearing about a few of them throwing sticks. What happened the next game? They kicked ass, that’s what! It is almost like dealing with children I would assume. Being a parent myself, it is easy to say one thing, but until you get it into their heads what HAS to be done, and now, not tomorrow, they don’t listen. The players are the ones that put themselves here, no one else.

He said: The Wild have a challenging week ahead. They play the Canucks at home, then head on the road for back to back games against the Canucks and the Oilers. But, the Wild must turn it around now or Richards must go. Don’t take this as me calling for his head though, I want the Wild to succeed and I want the Wild to do it with Richards as their coach. But, Sunday’s practice is a moment that can’t be turned back from. The Wild have two choices now: listen to Richards and start producing or ignore him and keep losing. If Richards can’t get through to the players with a brutal practice and a 20 minute bag skate then there is nothing he can do that will get through to them. And if that is the case he must be fired.

Russo got the following quote from veteran John Madden:

“It was a classic message of, ‘If you’re not going to battle when it’s game time, you’re going to battle all practice.’ So, message sent. Message received.”

She said: Not only do we have a challenging week ahead, we have a challenging season ahead. There is some serious talent on this team, and they need to bring it with them each and every game, not just when they feel like it. This has happened season after season. Yes, we have made the playoffs before Yes, we have won the division before. But it is always the same thing season after season. Either they get it done this season, or they don’t. I am not going anywhere! Understand, this is one of my 2 favourite teams.  [see flyers] I will never, ever give up on them. Nothing could make me do so. These long seasons have to come to an end though. There is a solution out there, and I believe Richards is as good as anyone at this point. We can praise Tippett and Laviolette all day, but it wouldn’t have changed a thing if we had gotten them to coach. They need motivation, and a steel will to win. I just don’t see it. I thought Matt Cullen and John Madden would have given something in that area to this team. [see I need patience] Watch those guys on the ice, they don’t give up. Imagine if the rest of the team did it every night like they do. I find myself dwelling on it more often than I should.

He said: We’ll know very soon if the message was indeed received.

She said: I have hope for tomorrow night, only because of the practice, and what happened with furious practices last year. After that, time will tell. 60 minutes is the key here. Not 20, not 40, 60! And to add a good note here, Cullen is awesome at getting in the refs face. [see me laughing and loving it!] He is the die hard we have waited for. Yes, he rocks it! Patience is wearing thin here, but I may end up the lone person at the X one day, for I will always be a Wild fan through and through. [see and flyers] [also see bandwagon fans jumping off] Not a lot to laugh at herein this post, I am upset. I know what they can do, and I expect it, not just this week, but every game. Make me proud Wild, do it!

I think since I added a co-writer, (Jeremy Glenn) we will be doing a he said/she said thing on Mondays. Kind of fun actually! And coming soon: Wild Theme Songs (for each player) I will add at least one each weekend, enjoy!

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And as always………..

GO WILD GO!

Tags: Dave Tippett Edmonton Oilers John Madden Matt Cullen Michael Russo Peter Laviolette Todd Richards Vancouver Canucks

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