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Wings add Torchetti to coaching staff

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

John Torchetti finished out the regular season and the playoffs as Minnesota's interim head coach in 2015-16. It was his third interim job in the NHL. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Red Wings filled their final coaching vacancy, announcing Thursday they’re adding more experience to a whole new staff.

John Torchetti has signed a two-year contract with Jeff Blashill’s coaching staff, joining two other recent hires: assistant Doug Houda and goaltending coach Jeff Salajko.

Torchetti, a veteran coach who won a Stanley Cup in 2010, will now be responsible for working with the Red Wings forwards and overseeing the club’s power play that struggled during the 2015-16 season.

Houda, a former Red Wings’ defenseman, was an assistant the past 10 seasons with the Boston Bruins. He will coach Detroit’s defensemen and oversee the penalty kill.

Never a full-time head coach in the NHL, Torchetti has served on interim bases three times, compiling a 30-30-4-2 (W-L-T-OL) record with Florida (2003-04), Los Angeles (2005-06) and Minnesota (2015-16).

In February, the 51-year-old Boston native was named the Wild’s interim coach after Mike Yeo was fired. It was the second time that Yeo preceded Torchetti behind the bench in the Wild’s system. He was named head coach of the AHL’s Houston Aeros when Yeo was promoted to the NHL in 2011.

Torchetti also replaced Rick Dudley behind the Panthers bench in 2003-04, and Andy Murray in Los Angeles in 2005-06.

Torchetti holds more than 30 years of professional hockey experience as a player, coach and general manager. A former forward who bounced around the minor leagues for seven seasons, Torchetti’s first NHL job came in 1999-2000 when he served a two-year stint as assistant to then-head coach Steve Ludzik in Tampa Bay. Torchetti also held assistant or associate positions with Florida, Chicago and Atlanta.

He won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010.

Prior to making it to the NHL, Torchetti coached in the minors before he was named general manager of the Detroit Vipers in 1998-99. During his tenure in Detroit, the Vipers posted a 50-12-11 record and captured the International Hockey League’s Eastern Conference championship.

After Detroit, Torchetti worked the next five seasons for the Lightning, Panthers and Kings. He coached one season with Moncton in the QMJHL before moving onto Chicago where he was an assistant for three seasons under Blackhawks head coaches Denis Savard and Joe Quenneville.

Torchetti then moved to Houston, where he coached the Aeros for two seasons before the team packed up and moved to Iowa and the coach headed to Moscow, where he became the first American to coach Red Army, yes, the same team run by former Red Wings great Sergei Fedorov.

Torchetti returned to the Wild franchise after leading Red Army to a 32-20-2 record, coaching AHL Iowa for two seasons before his promotion to the NHL in February.

Under Torchetti’s tutelage, Minnesota went 15-11-1 down the stretch to secure the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“He's a very bright guy, a very detailed guy, strong communicator, holds guys accountable, and I think John did a great job," Minnesota general manager Chuck Fletcher told the Wild’s team website in April.

Fletcher praised Torchetti for steering the Wild into the postseason, however, a first-round exit to Dallas in six games resulted in the team choosing a different direction with the hiring of coach Bruce Boudreau last month.

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