Jr. Sharks bring back alum Richardson to coach 18U AAA team
Mike Richardson played for the San Jose Jr. Sharks organization back when it was known as the Blades.
Now some 20 years later, he’s back to coach the Jr. Sharks’ 18U AAA team and wants to do more than just be behind the bench during games and run practices multiple times a week.
Richardson said the process of rejoining the association happened pretty quickly once the 2016-17 season came to a close.
“I’ve been fortunate to be from here and to have coached here a number of years ago,” said Richardson. “I’ve been able to stay in touch with the organization and I think the biggest thing that drew me back was the people. With guys like Tyler Shaffar, Mike Janda, Curtis Brown and Robert Savoie, that’s a pretty good group of hockey guys.
“We just started talking kind of casually a few weeks back when I learned the position was going to be open and I was asked if I would be interested and I was. There was like five or six of us that just sat down in a room for seven or eight hours and talked about the organization, the goods and stuff that we want to improve on and we all share the same kind of goals, which is to develop our players and help them advance and of course, try to win some games here.”
Richardson participated in the student coaching program that used to be part of the Jr. Sharks and played all of his youth hockey in town. Once his playing career ended, he started coaching for the Jr. Sharks in 2006. He has also coached junior hockey with the Billings Bulls (North American 3 Hockey League), Lake Tahoe Blue (Western States Hockey League) and Topeka RoadRunners (North American Hockey League), in addition to the Atlanta Fire AAA organization.
He said working for and working with many knowledgeable coaches, including Scott Langer in Topeka, was a huge benefit to his coaching career.
“I think Scott Langer (now with the NAHL’s Aberdeen Wings), with his track record and what he’s been able to do, I think absolutely you pick up things from them that help shape who you are as a coach,” Richardson said. “Al Bloomer, who I was with in Billings for a while, was a great mentor and a great person to pick from a hockey mind. Just being around good people, I think over time, especially when you’re a young guy coming up, you really get sucked in to other people that give and realize what you like and what you don’t.”
In San Jose, Richardson credited Derek Eisler with helping him get his foot in the coaching door.
Now looking forward to the 2017-18 season with the 18U club, Richardson has an idea of how he wants his squad to look come September.
“Over time, you kind of develop your own sense of how you think the game should be played,” said Richardson. “I want to play a north game and what I mean by that is I want to have a strong, attacking hockey team. I like guys who can make plays and who want to possess the puck. We want to play in the blue paint and we want to play in the middle of the rink all night long. That’s the way I like the game to be played and with that said, we will play a responsible, two-way game as well.”
Aside from wins and losses, which are a byproduct of players developing and buying in to systems, Richardson wants more from the Jr. Sharks overall.
“Once we get our team set, the biggest thing is creating that culture,” Richardson said. “Throughout the summer, it’s about getting ready for September, getting ready for camp in August, getting ready for all of that.”
— Matt Mackinder