GM Scott Howson
described the final 41 games of the season as a “three-month interview” for Todd Richards
, who officially had his interim tag removed today by the club.
From the moment the coaching change was made, Howson and Senior Advisor Craig Patrick
went into evaluation mode, and not solely with the coaching staff. All aspects of the team, including players, style of play, and accountability, were taken into consideration when making one of the most important decisions for the team.
I was really pushing hard for him to be our head coach - Craig Patrick
With a lifetime of hockey experience under his belt – and the advantage of having “seen it all” throughout a 40-year career in the game – Patrick knew there were certain qualities that stood out with Richards and the way he guided the club down the stretch of the season. Patrick has hired coaches, fired coaches, and made significant trades that shaped the future of two prominent NHL
organizations, and said he made a big push to hire Richards as head coach.
“After observing him through the end of the year, I was really pushing hard for him to be our head coach,” Patrick told BlueJackets.com. “I loved the way he handled the players. Todd is a demanding coach, but he made it fun for the players, too.
“He got good results, which is one of the reasons I wanted him to be our coach. I want us to start next season on a good note, and I think he gives us a head start on that.”
Patrick said preconceived notions and first impressions are good to have, but cannot be the basis of a decision of such magnitude. He and Howson got feedback from several players at the end of the season, and the response was positive: the players appreciated Richards’ even-handed approach to the game and his ability to balance expectations and the element of enjoying playing hockey.
“He’s a very motivated and demanding coach,” Patrick said. “But he also brings fun to the game, which is really important in this business.”
“There wasn’t anything early on that made me believe he was the guy, but in getting to know him and the kind of coach and person he is…at the end of the day, he proved to me he was the type of guy we should keep here.”
Successful organizations start with a competitive culture, Patrick said, and that was a major aspect of the decision to retain Richards. Based on his resume and track record of building accountability, Patrick and Howson believed Richards was the right coach to help them develop “the Blue Jacket way.”
“We’re developing a culture here that’s both competitive and demands accountability,” Patrick said. “Those are the things he demands out of his players all the time, and our players responded to that. It is a perfect fit for what we’re trying to achieve here, and why we think he’s a perfect fit for our team.”