On Tuesday, the Minnesota Wild named Todd Richards as their head coach, giving the former Shark assistant coach his first NHL head coaching job. Richards becomes just the second coach for the Wild following a one-year stint on Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan’s staff.
Richards is a Minnesota native and a former star at the University of Minnesota, giving him great local ties in addition to his impeccable coaching resume.
“We’re very excited for him,” said McLellan. “I think we all aspire to be the best and work at the highest level possible. Todd’s achieved that now. We wish him well. We’ll certainly miss him. He’s left his impact on us as staff and as an organization.”
As for Richard’s replacement, McLellan will not rush in making the decision.
“We’ll take our time, said McLellan. “Last year when I got the job, we had to put a full staff together. There were a lot of things we had to do. As a staff, right now, I’m very comfortable with the staff that remains. We’ll take our time and evaluate what our needs are now that Todd is gone and find the individual that fits those needs.”
The next hire could come from all walks of the coaching fraternity, with no limitations with regards to their coaching background.
“We could go all over the board,” said McLellan. “Trent, Jay and myself, and Mike Ricci, have worked together for a year and we understand each other a little bit more. We know our strengths and weaknesses and maybe we can find someone who compliments us as a group.”
Ricci’s name being mentioned is a sign of his growth within McLellan’s support group, but unlike the other contributing coaches, he does not reside on the bench during games.
“Ricci is an important individual within the organization,” said McLellan. “We feel he’s not that far removed from playing the game, so he still has insights from a players’ perspective, but he also sees it from a coaches and manager’s perspective. He’s a really good sounding board for us and shares his thoughts with us on a regular basis and we value them immensely.”
The new hire won’t necessarily be filling the exact role that Richards did, but that is because McLellan doesn’t use roles to define his entourage.
“I see us being a staff,” said McLellan. “I don’t see us being a head coach, an associate coach and all those other titles. We will continue to be a staff. We’re not promoting, demoting or moving guys around. We get together as a group and function as a group and everybody’s voice is heard equally.”