Wild players were scheduled to meet with the media one final time in the 2010-11 season this morning at Xcel Energy Center. However, as the news was announced that Todd Richards will not return as Head Coach of the Wild early this morning, the focus of the media's time with the players turned from a recap of the season to their reactions on the news.
The following is a selection of what Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Wild players had to say as the largest media contingent of the season descended on the Wild locker room today.
"[Todd Richards'] work ethic was unbelievable. His passion to win was great. He's a good coach. He's a good hockey coach, but ultimately it's my responsibility to make the right decision for the organization and I felt, going forward, we needed a new voice and a new direction and I made the decision to let Todd go."
"We're in the business of winning and losing games and the results are what they are. Part of my decision was based on the results of the past two seasons, part of my decision was based on the fact I thought we needed more from some players, and part of my decision was based on the fact that going forward, we needed a new voice to maximize production from this particular group of players."
"I put pretty much all the responsibility on me; it's my job. It's ultimately up to me to deliver a winning hockey team and so far we've had two non-playoff seasons. I do feel strongly in the direction we're going, with respect to the young players that are coming. I do feel we've had a couple good drafts now. I do feel we've developed players well thanks to the efforts of [Director of Player Development] Brad Bombardir and [Houston Aeros Head Coach] Mike Yeo and many other people in our organization. We are going in the right direction; we are going to add more talent and we are going to get better. But, clearly, the last two years we haven't made the playoffs so that speaks to itself and ultimately we need to get better from here. We will endeavor to do all that this summer."
Watch Chuck's conversation with the media here
"When you're out of the playoffs the head coach [is] usually the guy who gets the blame and not the 20 guys on the ice. Obviously, I think that's the thing you feel bad about and you feel disappointed as well and I think that's something for all of us to realize."
"You feel bad for, first of all, not making the playoffs, but for kind of letting him down and not making the playoffs and not winning enough. Like I said, we're all responsible for that."
"Personally, I learned a lot in these two years and I'm sure as a team, as well. There were a lot of good moments, good periods of times in these seasons. I think Todd and the whole coaching staff did a lot of good things but we just, as a team, came short."
"I think he did it his way since day one and I always say that I respect when a coach does it his way and when he believes in systems and everything. I think that's the right way to do it and I think he did."
Watch Mikko's conversation with the media here
"It's never a good feeling. Unfortunately, I've played on a lot of teams that were not very successful in the past and I've had this happen a couple of times. The feeling never changes; it seems to get worse. You feel bad. You feel like maybe somebody else is suffering for something that maybe you could've done more."
"It's disappointing not to make [the playoffs]. It's disappointing because I think there's a collective agreement here that the team is definitely good enough to have made it and to have actually made some noise when we got there so that's the disappointing part."
"I'm sure it's nothing against Todd. He gave it everything he had and we never doubt that at all. He put everything he had into trying to make this team a winning team and we were real close but we were just a little bit off."
Watch Cal's conversation with the media here
"It's very disappointing. I think you feel very responsible. I think we're all, this locker room and this team, responsible for what happened today to a good man and good people. It just caps off a disappointing weekend here."
"To be so close [to the playoffs] in a period of time and to fall so fast is the kicker."
"I'm sure [Todd] feels the same way we feel today and like I said, its unfortunate that he had to pay the price."
Watch Andrew's conversation with the media here
"It's a sad day. Nature of the business, that's the way it goes, the coach goes sometimes. But to be honest with you, I feel responsible and I'm sure other guys do, too."
"[Todd's] a great guy and he knows the game of hockey. It's unfortunate what happened today."
"I've made it public knowledge that I'd love to be back in a Wild uniform. If it doesn't work out, we'll venture down some different roads."
Watch John's conversation with the media here
"I think if we make the playoffs, I don't think [the coaching change] would happen and we wouldn't be talking about it right now. I know we played hard all season. We tried our best but I guess it wasn't enough."
"It's going to be a lot of changes…as players, I think we just need to prepare ourselves and be ready for next season."
"Whatever happened today, I think the players, all of us here in the dressing room, are responsible for it. So, like I said, not a good day."