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Jackets' prep won't be much different in East

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards has long been a coach who lives in the "here and now."

And, to be fair, that's a big part of the equation for being good at his job. Coaches can ill afford to look ahead or escape the present, primarily because preparation and paying attention to details are so crucial in today's professional sports landscape. 

The Blue Jackets (and all NHL teams) spend a lot of time getting prepared for each of their 82 games, and though they're undergoing a significant shift by moving to a different conference this season, Richards doesn't expect much to change in that regard.

Their practice schedules and general approach isn't going to venture too far from where they were a year ago, Richards said, frankly admitting that "you'd be foolish" to completely ignore a method of preparation which yielded strong results.

“I have played some teams in the East, and you do have knowledge of systems and how teams play," Richards said. "You have some knowledge of players, but probably not as good as the players of teams in the West. Players do switch, coaches switch, and I’ve already talked to a couple of coaches who have been in the East about possibly getting information from them.

"You can acquire video on any team; we can go downstairs in our video room, go back two years and watch a team play or watch a style of play. There is some (change in) preparation, but my main focus is our team."

The game-by-game mentality that the Blue Jackets bought in to in the second half of the 2012-13 kept them sharp in a grueling schedule, one that saw most NHL clubs play 48 games in a span of 99 days. Columbus - in the Western Conference for its entire franchise history until this season - had to win five of six games on a late-season West Coast road trip just to stay in the playoff race.

Richards constantly challenged his players to be at their best in their specific roles, and work on improving what they bring to the table every night. That attitude will be at the forefront as the on-ice work at Training Camp presented by OhioHealth begins this morning.

"As John (Davidson) said, there are no secrets in this league," Richards said. "I think if we’re the best team that we can be, and we can get the most out of players and maximize their potential…we’re going to be a really good.

"We still have to know what our opponent is going to do and we have to pass that on to our players, but our focus is on us and what we do.”

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