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Richards empathizes with fired coach Arniel

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- A year ago, Todd Richards went through what recently-fired Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel is going through now.

He was fired as head coach of the Minnesota Wild and said it took quite a while to get past it personally. In fact, Richards compared it to going through a divorce.

"It's really hard," he said. "When you put so much into it and really, when you get to this stage at this level, you're putting everything into it -- from getting there and changing the locker room to setting up your office to setting up your routines and how you want things to work. So, you are putting everything into it. When you get let go, what's really being said is 'We're going to move forward and we believe in moving forward and you aren't the guy.' That's a tough pill to swallow."

Richards, one of Arniel's assistant coaches before being named the new Blue Jackets head coach on Monday, said he did have a chance to talk with Arniel and share his own experience being let go from Minnesota. That didn't make it any easier on either of them.

"That's why the last 24 hours have been really tough," Richards said. "Hopefully I was able to help him out a little bit just from what I went through. It takes time, too. It's not just one of those things that happens and within two weeks or a month you're over it. It doesn't happen that way. It's a divorce and it takes time to build other things up. Really what helps is when you get into another relationship, that you're able to start letting go of the previous relationship."

As for being a head coach again, Richards said it's apples and oranges compared to being an assistant.

"No comparison," he said after running the Columbus morning skate on Tuesday at the United Center. "Assistant coach to head coach … you're always going as a head coach. You've got responsibilities with (media), got responsibilities with players, with staff, assistant coaches, practice, lineups, power plays … you're always going and working. The previous year, when I got let go from Minnesota, it's pretty amazing how quickly I shut the mind off. Now it's trying to get that motor started up again."
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