Tom Lynn


Wild trades for Edmonton’s Brodziak; Wild takes top-ranked goalie; Wild still into Heatley; Bouwmeester’s rights traded to Calgary

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

The Wild just traded the 99th and 133rd pick to Edmonton for center Kyle Brodziak and the 161st.  He’s a right-handed center who’s solid in the faceoff circle. Oil, I’m told, thought he’d be a third-line center after the year he had two years ago with Glencross and Stortini the last month-and-a-half, but he played mostly on the fourth line last year.

He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He played for Todd Richards in  Wilkes-Barre.

The Wild just took Matthew Hackett, the top-ranked goalie in the draft, at 77th overall. He plays at Plymouth of the OHL. Hackett is the nephew of former NHLer Jeff Hackett, who was just fired as the Avs’ goalie coach when Tony Granato was fired.

In the fourth round, the Wild took left wing Kris Foucault, a teammate of Carson McMillan’s with the Calgary Hitman at 103 overall.

At 116, the Wild took Shattuck St. Mary’s Alexander Fallstrom, from Sweden. He was senior captain there and a power forward.

At 163, the Wild took Jere Sallinen out of Finland, then at 182ns (first pick of seventh round), the Wild took future Gopher Erik Haula, from Shattuck, who will play next year with the USHL Omaha Lancers.

Good morning back in the Cities. Coming to you from the Draft risers, and I’m reminded by a hilarious line from former Wild assistant GM Tom Lynn last night.

“I’ve been a sportswriter for two days, and I’ve already gained four pounds and can’t roll out of bed in the morning.”

Welcome to our unhealthy lifestyle, Mr. Lynn, who shouldn’t take long to get back on the other side of the barricade.

Here is his blog today on the Hockey News’ web site.

I am told Wild GM Chuck Fletcher will be trying very hard to gain a second-round pick this morning — perhaps again dangling Josh Harding (Edmonton is at 40). He’s also now got a third-round pick and three fourths. Wild also would like to add a goalie today to its depth chart.

I am also told the Wild IS NOT out of the Dany Heatley sweepstakes. Ottawa still wants to trade him by July 1 and if the Senators likely get off their demand of Brent Burns, there’s a possibility.

The day started off with the Florida Panthers trading Jay Bouwmeester’s rights to Calgary for Jordon Leopold’s rights and a third. 

Edina’s Zach Budish went to Nashville at No. 41. At least the Preds didn’t rub the Wild’s nose in it by taking Budish at 41 — the pick they got from Minnesota in Zidlicky trade. Wild wanted to somehow get Budish today.

Little Falls’ Ben Hanowski just went 63rd (second pick in the third round) to Pittsburgh.

Pre-Draft chatter; Loiselle interviewing for Wild asst. GM post

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Word of the day: Scruples. Yes, scruples. Scruples. I love that word, except when some people don’t have any.

Scruples. Scruples. Scruples.

I hope I just made somebody out there in the media world feel guilty (if you think I’m talking about you, I probably am).

So onward, about 11 minutes ago (it’s 2:11 p.m. my time as I start this blog), GM Chuck Fletcher began a meeting with his staff to go over Draft strategy and undoubtedly trades. During a morning meeting, assistant GM Tommy Thompson finished all pre-draft player interviews and finalized the Wild’s Draft list with the scouts.

What do I hear through the grapevine. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the St. Louis Blues are definitely interested in Josh Harding, but Fletcher wants something substantial for him and if it doesn’t come now, he’s willing to wait until later this summer or next season. However, the tricky thing here is there’s only a certain smattering of teams that are looking for a goalie next season and beyond, and if they don’t get Harding now, they’ll sign a free agent goalie after July 1.

So Harding is definitely in play. But Fletcher would love a top-six forward rather than, say, a second-round pick because at least with the NHLer, you know what you’re getting. A draft pick, as we all know, can amount to something or amount to nothing.

TSN’s Darren Dreger “tweeted” (I’ve learned the lingo) that the Wild is one of a handful of teams still in the Ryane Clowe sweepstakes with San Jose. I haven’t confirmed, but I trust Dreger’s sources and it makes a helluva lot of sense. Clowe is an awesome young player, you can bet former Sharks assistant Todd Richards loves him and he plays the exact type of high-octane, hard-nosed style the Wild wants to play.

It’ll take good assets to get him though, and who knows if the Wild’s got em. And then you’ve got to sign him, which won’t be cheap, which is the reason the Sharks may deal him if they can’t sign him for themselves.

According to impeccable sources, Fletcher interviewed Tampa Bay’s Claude Loiselle this morning for the vacant assistant GM’s post. Loiselle’s contract expires June 30 and has permission to seek other employment. Loiselle is a well-respected guy who used to play, has negotiated contracts and knows the league well, especially because he used to work for the NHL.

However, as I reported a few weeks ago, the second tomorrow’s Draft ends, Ottawa Director of Hockey Ops Brent Flahr has a window to talk to other teams. He’s the likely guy as he and Fletcher are very close from their days working together in Florida and Anaheim.

Nothing new on the assistant coaching situation, although word on the street is Richards and at least Mike Ramsey had a very good initial meeting.

Speaking of assistant GM’s, Tom Lynn is here and actually will be on the media risers with yours truly tonight as a member of the stinkin’ media, haha. I joked with him yesterday that the first time he stands behind the barricade trying to wave down a GM, I’m taking a picture and holding it for ransom.

Lynn’s doing a blog for the Hockey News, and here’s his first posting on the anatomy of Draft deal. Remember, Wild has done many or set up many trades at the Draft.

I talked to agent Don Baizley in the lobby this morning. He and Montreal plan to talk early next week about Saku Koivu, and that’s all Koivu’s thinking about, he said. But if he goes to free agency, you know who’s a coming after him. That’s me saying that, not Baize.

There’s other stuff, but I’ve got to report it out some more. One of them is a bit of a Wild newsmaker, but I’m not comfortable writing it just yet. But … maybe later.

So, why Richards?; Thoughts on Tom Lynn’s dismissal

Monday, June 15th, 2009

First, here is the Todd Richards story for Tuesday’s editions

And, here is the player reaction sidebar and Tom Lynn dismissal short (the Chuck Fletcher quote on Schultz was from a sitdown I had with him last Thursday). 

During the Wild’s month-long GM search, owner Craig Leipold had in-person interviewees give them a list of three coaching candidates they’d likely rank 1-2-3 if they had the opportunity to hire one in Minnesota (at least, this is what I’m told by sources).

As you know by my coverage, I talked to a horde of GM candidates over those several weeks, and I asked them the same question. Of the six or seven that did answer that question for me, Todd Richards was on at least five of the lists, including a few that actually got in-person interviews. He was considered that much of an up-and-comer in his incredible fast track from player (2002) to coach.

So you know Leipold heard this name a lot during that month and thus is very comfortable with this hire, and trust me, this was all Chuck Fletcher. As Leipold said at his news conference to introduce Fletcher, he gave the new GM full authority to build his own Stanley Cup-caliber team from top to bottom. That meant final authority on coaches, players and his hockey ops and scouting departments — as proven by today’s firing of longtime assistant GM Tom Lynn.

So, why Richards? I’ve talked to many of his friends and colleagues the last month because I was 100 percent positive he’d top Fletcher’s coaching search list in particular. So I feel I’ve gotten at least a little glimpse into what type of person he is and his personality (and by the way, everybody says he’s just a great guy with a lot of character). 

First and foremost,

Fletcher feels it imperative to have a close working relationship with the new coach (Fletcher’s going to be around the team every single game the first half of the season), and the two of them became very close and grew a mutual respect for each other after Fletcher hired him in Wilkes-Barre. In fact, Fletcher recommended that Richards stay in Wilkes-Barre instead of taking the San Jose job because he was so certain he’d soon be an NHL coach. Ironically, Michel Therrien was eventually fired by the Penguins, and Richards would have gotten the job in Pittsburgh instead of Dan Bylsma. Well, who would have thought, but Fletcher gets the Wild job and Richards get to return to his hometown.

Second, Richards is an offensive-minded coach. He believes in pursuing the puck and attacking with it. He believes in hard-nosed hockey, up-tempo hockey and an activating blue line. And whattyaknow, Fletcher believes in the same type of hockey. So there’s an immediate mesh.

Third, and this could be the most important,

(more…)

Sources: Richards to be named Wild coach; Lynn fired

Monday, June 15th, 2009

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.jpg

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.

Here is Richards’ bio on the San Jose Sharks’ web site.

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.

Fletcher, Russo back in town; Richards still the frontrunner

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Yes, I’m back. Yippee do!

I figured I better blog because the smart aleck son of a friend of mine sent me a text message saying, “Think you’ll blog again this year?”

Like father, like son :)

Back from Hawaii, and Ireland, and I’m ready to go back to each. Two awesome places.

The Brown Fox — Chuck Fletcher — is back in the office after landing this afternoon from Pittsburgh, where he attended Game 3 of the Finals and attended his first official GM’s Meeting — well, as a non-Interim, non-assistant GM — in history. Had to be cool.

What’s Fletcher been up to? Well, while I was in Ireland, he attended the Draft combine in Toronto last weekend, where he interviewed players and dined with the staff, including Tommy Thompson. On Thursday and Friday, he’ll conduct his first pro scouting meetings with Tom Lynn, Blair Mackasey, Jamie Hislop and Todd Woodcroft, among others.

They’ll be talking free agency, trades and likely whether the Wild should tender any offers to their own unrestricted free agents (i.e. Skoula, Veilleux, Bergeron or Foster). We know they’ll go after Gaborik, although it’ll be difficult at this late juncture.

(updated)

Fletcher has also been working on the coaching search. Same candidates as I’ve mentioned before. Todd Richards is still the frontrunner. I know for a fact Chuck went out to California to interview Richards, and that’s the place he wouldn’t tell me he was calling me back from (remember?).

But I still think he’d want to interview Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean, who’s a bit busy right now.

If Richards gets the job, possible assistants include Claude Noel, Curt Fraser, Tony Granato and Mike Ramsey. Like I’ve said, I think Matt Shaw and Bob Mason have tremendous shots at being retained.

Lots of news going around the league. Jacques Martin is now the coach in Montreal, leaving Florida at a marvelous time with less than a month before the Draft and free agency.

All sorts of rumors out of Montreal that Mario Tremblay could eventually join Martin on that bench.

Florida will now conduct a full-on GM search, but owner Alan Cohen appears close to selling the team because I’m told that GM candidates are being referred to Alternate Gov. Bill Torrey and Tony Tavares, the former Anaheim Mighty Ducks head who just so happens to be leading the ownership group close to buying the Cats.

Some possible candidates in Fla.? Former Panthers coach Doug MacLean, former Panthers GM Rick Dudley, former Panthers captain Scott Mellanby, Hall of Famer and former Panthers analyst Denis Potvin, former Bruins assistant GM Jeff Gorton, TSN and NBC analyst Pierre McGuire and former Lightning GM Jay Feaster. Maybe former Wild GM Doug Risebrough would be interested, although he’s still on a two-week solo canoe trip, so he may not even know the job’s available :)

Lastly, aren’t you glad you’re a Wild fan? Imagine being in Colorado. Sorry, but at least Wild owner Craig Leipold conducts a far and wide GM search to get the best possible candidate and then announces him with a little fanfare.

The Avs do what they always do — hire internally.

Greg Sherman — the assistant GM — was hired today to replace Francois Giguere accompanied by the most underwhelming press release announcement ever. From Pierre Lacroix: “Greg Sherman deserves the opportunity to prove he can be an effective general manager in our business.”

I bet Avs fans everywhere are excited after that line.

It was also classy of Lacroix to finally fire Tony Granato after offering his job around the league for a month, including to former Avs star goalie Patrick Roy. Kudos to Denver Post writer Adrian Dater, who’s been all over that story for some time.

Speaking of Dater, he talked to Marc Crawford, who’d be interested in returning there as coach. Dater reports that Joe Sacco’s got an inside shot. Wonder if Jacques Lemaire would be interested, eh?

OK, I’m back on the clock folks. Blogs will be updated more regularly.

Laviolette interested in Wild coaching job

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

(updated 11:45 p.m., Tuesday)

Believe it or not, I’m back in Minnesota — for a few hours at least. Because I got too tan in Hawaii, I’m heading to Ireland on Wednesday to untan, but just for the weekend. Everybody who knows me can attest to the fact that I’m a globetrotter.

But I’ll be back in town well before a new coach is hired.

Chuck Fletcher, who wouldn’t divulge where he was calling me back from late tonight because then I’d figure out what he was up to(ha), is still in the research phase of the coach hunt process. He’s compiling a list of names, then will do some due diligence and then will decide whom he wants to speak with. He said literally everybody and anybody is on the list, so he hasn’t defined exactly who’s really on the list. He wants to get it down to about four before conducting interviews.

He will definitely interview San Jose Sharks assistant coach Todd Richards, as I reported over the weekend. I also talked to Peter Laviolette today, who is interested in the job. Here is the link to that story. I listed a bunch of possible candidates in the article.

In the former-NHL-head-coach-department, Laviolette makes a ton of sense. Yes, he’s won a Stanley Cup, but he also coaches a system very similar to the prerequisites Fletcher has laid out — communication skills, up-tempo, physical, offensive.

Pat Quinn and Tom Renney are off the market. Craig MacTavish is still on the market, and he’d make the writers happy (quote machine). Fletcher also has a history with Newell Brown and Paul MacLean.

In the meantime, Fletcher was in Winnipeg on Monday night to watch the Houston Aeros, who were eliminated in Game 6 of the conference finals. He’ll be in the office later Wednesday and Thursday to meet individually with the staff and as many players (who are still in town) as he can. He will be in Toronto this weekend for the draft combine.

He’s started calling players as well.

To clarify one thing that was reported earlier this week, he has decided no staff member is leaving or staying. He’s been in the office for three hours total, and has met a precious few. He said there’s no reason for anybody to be walking on eggshells, but stories that he’s told anybody they’re safe or unsafe were premature. What does that mean? He’ll meet with staff over the next several weeks, ask a ton of questions and then things “will become apparent to me,” and that does include Tom Lynn and Tommy Thompson.

Incidentally, Fletcher’s played telephone tag Tuesday with agent Ron Salcer regarding initial contact on Marian Gaborik.

Fletcher’s old team, Pittsburgh, advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals tonight, and wow, actually touched and picked up the oft-snubbed Prince of Wales Trophy — thus, delighting the NHL. The Penguins are a better team this year than last, and Bill Guerin looks as ageless as ever.

Assistant GM Tommy Thompson and his staff are in Toronto interviewing players at the Draft combine. Thompson said the Wild interviewed a single-day record 23 draft-eligible players Tuesday.

Okee dokee, I’ve got to pack. I’ll hit a few golf balls for ya.