Wild fires coach Todd Richards after two seasons, dismal finish
Another non-playoff season and a dismal finish were too much for Todd Richards to survive.
The Minnesota Wild fired its head coach on Monday morning, announcing the decision less than 24 hours after the season ended with a 5-3 victory over Dallas.
General manager Chuck Fletcher made the announcement in a four-sentence statement on the team's Web site, saying he "would like to thank Todd for the hard work he provided to the Minnesota Wild organization the last two seasons and wish him the best in the future."
Shortly after, Fletcher told reporters the decision was "not a knee-jerk reaction. It's something I've been analyzing and looking through, and I felt this was a change we needed to make, and once you make that decision, it's important that you -- in fairness to Todd and the organization -- to make it as quickly as possible.
Richards, 44, posted a 77-71-16 record in two seasons. The Wild remained in contention for a Western Conference playoff spot this season until early March, when it embarked on an eight-game losing streak that probably sealed Richards' fate.
"Without question you look back, and there's always hindsight," Richards said after Sunday's game. "Would you do some things differently? Absolutely there are some things I'd do differently, but for the most part there's not too many things I would change."
"I really believe in fits," Fletcher said, "and sometimes, things don't work out. In this case, I think Todd worked hard and pushed this team, and it's just my opinion that we need a new direction to go forward."
A Crystal native who played four seasons at the University of Minnesota and briefly with the NHL's Hartford Whalers, Richards was hired as the Wild's coach on June 16, 2009. His only previous head-coaching experience was with the American Hockey League's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2006 to '08), prior to one season as a San Jose Sharks assistant.
"I look back over the season, and we did a lot of good things," Richards said. "I think we accomplished some things. It probably doesn't feel that way, but that's how I feel. To me there was growth: growth in players, the chemistry, the culture and things we want to build upon here. But still it leaves you with that disappointment of the finish."