Playing spoiler simply wasn’t good enough for general manager Chuck Flethcher and the Minnesota Wild brass, apparently. Todd Richards is out as head coach of the Wild after his second season behind the bench.
Richards was just the second coach in franchise history, taking over the duties in 2009-10 for the departed Jacques Lemaire. He was a coach that we pegged as ‘on the hot seat‘ a way back in September, and today he becomes the NHL’s third coaching casualty since Saturday behind Pete DeBoer and Cory Clouston.
The Wild dismiss Richards with one-year remaining on his contract, and the fate of his staff is unknown at this point. The Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo points out that assistant coach Rick Wilson is the only member of Richards’ staff with any time left on a deal, so the Wild could be in line for a complete makeover in the coaching department.
A Minnesota native, Richards was brought in and assigned the task of transforming a team that played eight seasons under the defensively minded Lemaire into a more up-tempo squad – but the Wild never really found an identity under his command.
The task for Fletcher and co. now is to find a replacement:
“We’ll find the right fit. Coaching’s coaching; it’s about communication, it’s about structure and it’s about holding players accountable. Most teams play similar systems now and we’ll just try to find the right fit for this particular team. Every team is different; not every coach is a good fit with every team. I think the important thing is to find the right fit. That’s what we’ll do and we’ll take the necessary time to find the right coach.”
The Wild have upwards of $10 million set to come off the books on July 1 (all figures via CapGeek), so whomever takes over as head coach could have a few new pieces to play with.
Richards is still very young (44) in terms of NHL coaches. After two disappointing seasons in his home state, he’s probably best suited to some time away and fresh start in some capacity elsewhere. We wish him the best.