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Why Luke Richardson bag-skated Blackhawks at practice despite epic comeback win in San Jose

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The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a four-goal deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 in overtime on Saturday, and it was the franchise's biggest comeback win since Oct. 12, 2009 when they beat Calgary 6-5 in overtime after falling behind 5-0.

Still, Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson put the team through an intense practice on Monday at Fifth Third Arena, which ended with the dreaded conditioning drills that you typically see in training camp. He wasn't pleased with the overall effort on the three-game road trip as a whole.

"Little bit to grab their attention," Richardson said. "I know we skipped out of the game luckily on top, and that's great on them that they were able to do that, but if we go back two games, we weren't happy with our performance in two games. That's just not professional enough for me. You have to do it every day.

"Sometimes that's the way the game is played: up and down the ice, or over and back. It sets home that it's really unacceptable for the standard that we want to have for work ethic. So we worked in practice today."

Richardson apparently gave a fiery speech to the team on the bench during one of the timeouts in the first period after his team fell behind 2-0.

"Not good things, I'll tell you that," Ryan Donato replied after the game when asked what was said by Richardson. "It was a little scary. Luke is a very kind guy, and when he needs to be, he can definitely get us going in the right direction if needs to. He definitely did for us this game."

Richardson's blood was boiling so much that he didn't feel the need to wait till the intermission to lay into his players.

"I didn’t want to waste a timeout that early in the game," Richardson said. "I don’t like doing that. But it just got to the point — and it didn’t get much better right away, but I think it might take time to settle. I didn’t really want to wait until the end of the first because it could trickle and get worse."

Richardson acknowledged that it did get worse after the Blackhawks fell into a deeper hole minutes into the second period, but the message was certainly received. It just took a little bit for the players to process it and execute.

Richardson typically has a calm demeanor on the bench and he doesn't like to blow up too often because it could get stale. But the first period in San Jose was one of those instances where he felt it was warranted.

"You’re right, I don’t think you can do that too often; it just falls on deaf ears after a while," Richardson said. "I think what you need to do is make them realize that this is up to them to be ready. We need to be ready and give them a good gameplan they can succeed at, which we did. 

"We’re always up for discussion with them about certain parts of our systems and what we do and questions on gray areas and how to fix them. ... We take that into consideration but when we feel like we’ve done our job and prepared them and we’re doing the exact opposite of what our pregame message was and our video of the other team was, and they’re doing the exact same thing they’re doing, that’s unprofessional and it’s unacceptable. I let them know that in the best way or fashion of urgency that I thought was needed at the time. 

"Then I tried to back off and say not too much at all. Even that sometimes is hard. I want to talk through a shift so other people can see what’s going on, on the ice and get the message, but I try to back off and let the assistants talk and do some stuff for the rest of the period. I didn’t go in between periods. I thought, why would I double up on the message and sound contradictory or repetitive? One of the two. So I just stayed out of there and let the veterans take that message and figure it out."

After staying out of the locker room during the first intermission, Richardson went into it for the second to remind the Blackhawks that they don't need to win the game in the first five minutes of the third period. They had a full 20 minutes plus overtime to score two goals and tie the game and finished off the comeback with two points.

And that's exactly what the Blackhawks did.

"I thought it was a full team effort," Richardson said, before letting out a smile and quipping: "A full team effort the first half of the game to get into that trouble, then a full team effort to get out of it. So, at least they all did it together."

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