We knew that Todd Richards was a good coach. But even this performance was unexpected.
After losing in the semifinal to Russia, Team USA rallied to beat the host Czech Republic to capture a bronze medal in the IIHF World Hockey Tournament. This marks the 2nd medal the Americans have won in the past 3 World Championships.
Not many experts predicted that the United States would make any noise in this tournament, given the roster that came across the pond to play. This is what makes this run to the bronze medal that much more impressive.
Todd Richards: "Before the tournament, I don't think anyone really gave us a chance to win anything. (Bronze) means a lot to this group."
— Rob Mixer (@RobMixer) May 17, 2015
The Americans started out winning their 1st 3 pool games, including a 4-2 win over powerhouse Russia. They came out flat in their next game, losing to Belarus 5-2. They did not allow that to derail their tournament. Team USA won their next 3 games heading into the elimination round.
After defeating Switzerland 3-1 in the quarterfinals, the Americans were guaranteed to play for a medal. Although they came up short in their rematch with Russia, they still had plenty to play for. They responded with a convincing 3-0 win over the Czechs to ensure they came home with a medal.
In taking a look back at this tournament for the Americans, one thing clearly stood out. This roster had a coaching staff who was experienced in this kind of environment. They were able to use their experience in helping the young Americans play a winning style of hockey, even when things didn’t go their way. In this tournament, this starts with Head Coach Todd Richards.
— Craig Button (@CraigJButton) May 17, 2015
Todd Richards’ Impact To Team USA
As it turns out, Todd Richards was the right coach for this team. He has the kind of demeanor that is loved and respected by his players. He doesn’t get too high when things are going well. He doesn’t get too low when things are not going his way. Young players enjoy playing for someone who is calm in all situations. This translated into confidence for Team USA.
Recall that Dan Bylsma was the Head Coach of Team USA during the Olympics. His assistant was Todd Richards. This time around, Richards was the Head Coach, while Bylsma was the assistant. Although it didn’t work out in the Olympics, Team USA knew what they had in these coaches. These coaches had the ability to get the best out of their players.
And it showed. The Americans were led in the tournament by Brock Nelson’s 10 points, and Trevor Lewis’ 9 points. Perhaps the story of the tournament for the Americans was goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. He finished as the top goaltender in the tournament, with a .948 save% and 1.37 goals against average. This team was confident from start to finish.
Todd Richards and his staff deserve a lot of credit for this outcome. A bronze medal in this tournament against traditional powerhouse countries is very impressive. A closer look at Todd Richards’ coaching history suggests that this outcome is not surprising. He has won almost everywhere he has been.
With the exception of his time with the Minnesota Wild, in which he just missed the playoffs, Todd Richards has been a part of winning coaching staffs. He has been on the staffs of both the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins, when each team consistently stood at the top of the standings. Richards also has championship experience, leading Milwaukee to a Calder Cup back in 2004.
Richards led the Columbus Blue Jackets to their 1st 2 playoff victories in franchise history just last season. Although the Blue Jackets couldn’t make it back to the playoffs this season, Richards managed to keep the team together through over 500 man games lost to injury. The Blue Jackets finished 16-4-1 to earn a winning season.
Now add a bronze medal to Todd Richards’ already impressive resume, and you can see why he is such a good coach. Columbus is on the verge of breaking through under his control. Now Team USA has a medal under his control. One has to wonder if he will be at the helm of Team USA come the next World Cup in 2016.
Something to consider: has Todd Richards put himself squarely in the mix to coach Team USA at the 2016 World Cup? #CBJ
— Rob Mixer (@RobMixer) May 17, 2015
Regardless, Todd Richards is an outstanding coach. He is only getting better. When you see the Columbus Blue Jackets contending year in and year out, you’ll know why. Todd Richards is on the verge of being the next great coach in the NHL.