By Michael Russo
According to multiple NHL sources, San Jose Sharks assistant coach Todd Richards will become the second Wild coach in history. A news conference to “introduce the Wild’s new head coach” will be made by new GM Chuck Fletcher on Tuesday at noon at Gate 1 of Xcel Energy Center.
Sources say Richards will succeed Jacques Lemaire, who resigned after the 2008-09 season.
Richards, 42, a native of Crystal, Minn., and a former Gophers defenseman and captain, spent last season in San Jose as Todd McLellan’s assistant. This came after two seasons as the head coach with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He brought the Baby Pens to the Calder Cup Finals in his final season. That’s where he was hired by and became tight with then-Penguins assistant GM and Wilkes-Barre GM Chuck Fletcher.
Richards spent four seasons as an assistant in Milwaukee. The Admirals won one Calder Cup and went to the Finals another year during his tenure.
He won two WCHA titles with the Gophers as a player, a 1991 Calder Cup with Springfield, a 2001 Turner Cup with Orlando (IHL) and a 2002 Swiss-B League title with Servette Geneve. He was the IHL Defenseman of the Year in 1993-94 while playing in Las Vegas and used to be the U’s assists-record holder. His brother, Travis, also used to be a Gophers captain.
Todd’s got a track record of winning everywhere he’s been as a player and coach.
Over the past month, I’ve talked to scores of people who know and coached with Richards. He is an aggressive, up-tempo coach that fits the style Fletcher wants to play. As one NHL assistant coach who worked with Richards just told me, he’s going to coach the way he played. He won’t be a sit-back and watch coach, the person said. He’s going to activate his defense and go-go-go.
There may be some concern out there that Richards has only been in the NHL for a year as a coach, but remember, you need to start somewhere and there are tons of successful coaches in the NHL that had limited experience in the big league before they got here — guys like Mike Babcock, Bruce Boudreau and most recently Dan Bylsma.
Also, assistant GM Tom Lynn has been fired. I felt this was coming, especially after talking with GM Chuck Fletcher a few weeks ago and he made it a point to make clear to me he never ever told Lynn or Tommy Thompson they were staying.
More on this later, including whom I think has a good chance of replacing Lynn.
“We thank Tom Lynn for all his service and contributions to the Wild organization and wish Tom and his family future success,” said Fletcher in a statement.