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Blatant Homerism

Meet The New Boss, A Helluva Lot Different Than The Old Boss

richardsThe head coaching vacancy of the Minnesota Wild has been filled by Todd Richards, most recently an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks. Fans of the Wild are in for a culture shock as Richards most likely will install an aggressive, attacking style that will be on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to former head coach Jacque Lemaire’s defense-first, neutral zone trap, grind-it-out style of play.

“He’s a great fit to turn the style around,” said agent Ben Hankinson, Richards’ former Gophers and minor league hockey teammate. “He plays aggressive, offensive hockey. Opposed to the way the Wild has played, it’ll be pretty refreshing and entertaining.

Indeed. As a Wild fan myself, I have to say that while I admired and respected Jacques Lemaire and enjoyed  listening to him talk hockey in his oddly entertaining way of speaking in his unique French-Canadian accent (or-gun-eye-zay-shun, der’s no douwt), I am looking forward to seeing what this Richards fellow has planned.

More importantly to many living in upper Midwest, he’s a local boy. He’s from Crystal, Minnesota and played high school hockey at Armstrong and played for the Gophers. And for those of you not from this area, after hacking through permafrost, watching great big airplanes fly overhead and wrestling polar bears,  our provincialism is one of our most revered time-honored traditions.

Although his resume lacks the pedigree of other rumored potential candidates (i.e. Craig MacTavish and Peter Laviolette, among others), and only playing in 19 games in the NHL (with Hartford in 1990-1992),  Richards jumped to the front of the line due to his close association with new Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher.

He was head coach of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League from 2006 to ’08, winning 98 games and taking the Baby Penguins to the Calder Cup Finals in 2008.

Fletcher, the former Penguins assistant GM and Wilkes-Barre GM, originally hired Richards upon recommendation from Penguins GM Ray Shero, who was GM of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals when Richards was an assistant there.

Best of luck to you, Coach Richards. You landed a pretty sweet gig – you just have some big shoes to fill.

Wild picks Todd Richards as coach [Star Tribune]