Crunch's Richard Benefits From Video Session

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Breaking down the video helped show Tanner Richard his options.

The Syracuse Crunch center sat down with head coach Benoit Groulx for a 25-minute video session after Richard returned to the lineup last week. Richard, who has been primarily a pass-first type of player, and Groulx went through each shift by the second, shared their thought processes and the choices available on each play.

Richard hopes to continue to refine his decision-making skills with the puck as he continues to develop with the Crunch.

“We were looking at shifts and the passes I made and he would ask what I should have done there,” Richard said. “I’m thinking ‘Well, I made a pretty good pass right on our guy’s tape and he got in a shooting position,’ but then he’s like ‘OK, look at all this free ice. You could have taken it yourself.’

“You want to try and take more control of the game instead of always giving the puck away.”

Richard has a goal in each of his last three games. The 23-year-old sat the previous three games because of a “coach’s decision.”

Groulx called Richard a “work in progress,” and said there is a lot of offensive strategy he could be using better.

“I think Tanner Richard is a very talented player that’s not using his full potential,” Groulx said. “I think it’s time for him — he’s a fourth year pro — to experiment with other things offensively. Like I said, I’ll never ask a player to try things that I feel they can’t do, but Tanner Richard is a man of many talents. He’s used to playing one way, but I think there’s more to it. We’ve been discussing that, and now we’re in the process of doing it.”

For Richard, it was tough to sit out. In 38 games this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2012 third-rounder has 12 goals and 15 assists.

“It’s not fun,” Richard said. “You want to be on the ice. You want to be helping your teammates. I felt like I let my teammates down by being up there as a healthy body. It’s one thing when you’re hurt and you can’t play, because you went to battle with the guys and something is keeping you out. When it’s in your control and you aren’t in the lineup it’s frustrating.”

Since returning, Richard is on a three-game goal streak and has 10 points in his last eight games.

“I think I’ve just been going to the net and stopping there,” Richard said. “None of my goals are pretty. All three of them were fortunate bounces and they bounced right to me. I guess the takeaway from that is I should be around the net more.”

Earlier this season, Richard earned the call to join the Lightning, and made his NHL debut on Dec. 20. The three-game stint provided a spark to keep working in the AHL.

“It was pretty amazing, a dream come true and something I’ve dreamed about for as long as I can remember anything in my life. It’s probably one of my first memories wanting to play in the NHL — throwing NHL jerseys on and playing mini sticks,” Richard said. “To have that finally come true is surreal. Anyone down here in this league wants to get back up there, but it’s definitely cool to get that cup of coffee and just kind of get the sniff of what it’s like.
“It motivates you to come back down here and work hard to get back up there.”

Pictured: Crunch center Tanner Richard shoots the puck against the Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial on Jan. 20.