Minnesota Wild Head Coach Todd Richards needed to hear some good news on Friday; a day after his team surrendered six goals in a 6-3 road loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
After a quiet flight and a long bus ride from Oakland into San Jose last night, as well as a rigorous practice on Friday morning, Richards smiled when he heard about the success of a community initiative that the Wild is participating in. He can also say that he played a small part in.
Tomorrow, as part of the used hockey equipment drive headed by the Wild, Let’s Play Hockey, and Minnesota Hockey, more than 2,000 pieces of hockey equipment will be given away for free inside Gate One at the Xcel Energy Center, beginning at 10:00 AM, and ending at 2:00 PM.
“Wow! That’s great!” he exclaimed when told the amount of equipment that was donated.
A local boy or girl, whose parents may not have been able to afford them, will walk away with some skates or gloves that were used by Zachary or Justin Richards, Todd’s 11 and 13 year-old sons.
The first-year Head Coach and Crystal, Minnesota native actually was the first donor to the equipment drive, and he’s proud that one of his first orders of business as coach was not to give a motivational speech to his players, but to donate some gear to the drive.
“When they came in here and started talking about this program, I thought it was great,” said Richards. “Especially in this economy and what’s going on, there are a lot of families out there that are struggling. You don’t want kids to miss out on playing hockey or being part of the sport just because they don’t have a shin pad, an elbow pad or a glove.”
For the past three weeks, the equipment has been collected at 24 locations in the Twin Cities area, and last night 20 high school hockey players helped load the goods into two 18-wheelers and brought to a warehouse to be separated and made ready for Saturday.
The Wild has been tremendous from start to finish on this program,” said Doug Johnson of Let’s Play Hockey. “Some of this stuff is really good stuff. It’s a lot of quality gear that still has good use for the kids.”
When he took the job with the Wild, he was well aware that there was more to it than X’s and O’s. He wants to be a part of much more than on-ice success.
“You represent the team, you represent the organization,” he explained. “There are other things I can do to help kids out. My kids are skating and I want to be a part of it. I’m still a big kid anyways. I love getting out on the ice and having fun with the kids, so there’s a lot that I want to do.”