Head coach Todd Richards, Assistant coach Dave Barr and Video coach PJ DeLuca were all fired yesterday. Not this this is actually “news” anymore, but I think he has been made the scapegoat of the huge mess here in Minnesota. Not only do we have way too many Doug Risebrough leftovers of mediocre players with unfitting contracts, we also have the politics of keeping the fans happy. Someone had to go, and you cannot just fire players. If only it were that easy.
Richards baffled me more than once this year. Start at the beginning when we were playing The Carolina Hurricanes in Finland. Game goes to a shootout and he puts Antti Miettinen out there to save the game? Brad Staubitz would have been a better choice at that point. I still cannot believe that. Funny how some things stand out in your brain, even months later. Even though our record was much better at the beginning of the season than last year, there was still no urgency in the games. Then it was a win/loss/win/loss etc. No consistency whatsoever.
Enter 20 minute bag skate! He worked them hard and it showed, but not for long. Back to inconsistency yet again. It just went on like through the better part of the season. Then after the All Star Break, things picked way up. The came out with a fierce presence. Hope was alive again. The players were embracing Richards‘ system, and it was paying off. Just when we thought we had something going for a couple months, road trip! Saying to myself we had to win 3 of 4 of these games. Not only did we lose them all, it kept spiraling downward even worse. It was painful to watch. This is where I wondered what Richards was doing. He cannot make them play with heart, or can he? He obviously did for a couple months, what made it stop? As a coach he needed to light a fire under their butts and not let up. Even the post game pressers became very stalemate. Listening to all the excuses, and they were not even good ones. Just plain boring.
Of course we do not know what happens in that locker room, but when you see Richards on the bench, he to me always seemed a little bit laid back. He needed more fire, or whatever he did to make these players actually play some hockey, and 60 minutes of it, not 20. Although short lived, his system and his coaching did work. The past 6 weeks we saw so much dump and chase. He really needed to put an end to it. First off, we do not have fast enough players to dump and chase, and all the times on the power play, too. It was very disheartening to say the least. And nothing changed until that last game. We beat The Dallas Stars and knocked them out of the playoffs. Pure motivation.
So after all of that, I am not happy with the decision, believe it or not. I think he was used as a scapegoat here. I think we should have given him another year, and fire sale out half of the team or more. If you have lacklustre players, not much you can do. Some of you will argue that is a coaches job, and I agree to a point. But he only had 2 years and I think 1 more may have worked, considering we dump some of these players. I love his system when played. It is so similar to The San Jose Sharks‘ system and it works for them. Not to mention they have much better players. Every once in a while we saw the monstrosity of the trap returning. You cannot take what is taught to player for years and expect it to change easily. That is like telling you that hockey is spelled h-o-c-k-e-y, then one day saying no it’s not. Think about it. Sure there was newer players that did not play Jacques LeMaire‘s system, but everyone has to be on the same page or nothing gels!
Now we all get to sit back and impatiently await the news of who will be our next head coach. So many names have been brought up, let alone scenarios in my head. I think it will be hard to find a good coach that is willing to take this on. Our cap space is limited. Approximately 6.9 million free for the 2011-12 season, with 15 players on the roster. This is a nightmare. There is no way Chuck Fletcher sleeps at night. This is crazy insane. I can barely sleep at night thinking bout it. No envy here Mr. Fletcher, none at all.
I have 2 thoughts on who I would like to see as the new head coach. I have not heard a lot of people mentioning it, but Mike Yeo has done a hell of job in Houston.
He is younger, he has fire, he has passion, and he has brought The Houston Aeros a long way this season. I am pretty sure Fletcher will go with a veteran NHL coach this time, just my thoughts right now. My 2nd choice would be to pull Lou Nanne out of retirement! If anyone can take this nasty mess on, it would be Lou!!
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