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Six days

By Tom

CBJ head coach Todd Richards and his staff have their work cut out for them

It’s January 13th.

You’re head coach Todd Richards, and you have six days to get your Columbus Blue Jackets ready for the condensed 2013 season.

 

Six days.

 

No one from the organization has been allowed to talk to your players since the NHL locked its players out at the conclusion of the last collective bargaining agreement on September 15.

You have no idea whether the players are in game shape.

 

Six days.

 

The roster has been scattered around the globe.  Some went to Russia to play hockey.  Some went to other European countries.  At least one went to the sub-minor East Coast Hockey League.  Some played in charity games.  Some just worked out like it was an extended offseason.

A few guys have been working out over the past week on their own in the Ice Haus.

Let’s hope they started building on-ice chemistry.

 

Six days.

 

Tim Erixson and Nick Foligno defend against Brandon Dubinsky in training camp

You have six new guys on the roster at minimum.  By new, I mean fresh faces who weren’t in the Blue Jackets organization last year.  What do you do with them?

I suppose a quick assessment of on-ice skill is important – all that film watching during the offseason and the lockout has given you a couple ideas, but nothing beats seeing with your own two eyes.

After that, what?  System installation?  Game simulations?  Special teams drills?  How do you allocate scarce practice time?

And then there are all those kids from Springfield and juniors.  They need to be evaluated…

 

Six days.

 

How hard do you work the players?

With all the new players, can you afford not to pack the week with workouts?

Do you run them through two-a-days and risk wearing them out going into the season?

Do you risk injury by working them too hard?

Wait – Cam Atkinson got hurt?  Oh man.  Hope he’s ready for the regular season.

 

Six days.

 

The pressure’s on.

You got your two-year contract, but your team still finished 30 out of 30 despite your efforts to turn things around after you took over last January.

Everyone in the organization knows the only thing holding the team back is winning games.

You have to win, and in a 48-game season that means win, and win quickly.  A slump of any length could sink the season.

 

Six days.

 

18 of the 48 games are against the Central Division.  Then there’s 15 against the Pacific Division and 15 against the Northwest Division.

The season starts on Saturday in Nashville.

The home opener is on Monday against Detroit.

 

It’s January 13th.

 

You have six days.

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