Sources are telling Let's Play Hockey that former Golden Gopher and NHL defenseman, and current San Jose Sharks assistant coach Todd Richards will likely be named the new Minnesota Wild head coach in the near future. A native of Crystal, Minn., and considered an up-and-coming young coach, Richards was the head coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins when current Wild GM Chuck Fletcher was an assistant GM with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Clearly, Fletcher's familiarity and comfort level with Richards played a major role in the decision on who best to replace Jacques Lemaire behind the Wild bench. Since the hiring of Fletcher as GM, Richards was considered the frontrunner for the Wild head coach position.
Assistant coach Matt Shaw and goaltending coach Bob Mason are expected to be back for the 2009-10 season. As reported, assistant coach Mario Tremblay will not be part of the new coaching staff. It's unclear at this time if assistant coach Mike Ramsey will be behind the Wild bench for his 10th season.
Richards bio from the San Jose Sharks:
Todd Richards just completed his first season as a National Hockey League assistant coach and his first season working with Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. In his new role, Richards will be in charge of the power play and work with McLellan on forward lines and matchups.
Richards spent the last two seasons as head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the American Hockey League where he led the team to a berth in the Calder Cup Finals last season after winning the AHL’s East Division regular season title.
Richards ended his stint with the Baby Pens ranked first in franchise history with 98 wins (51 in 2006-07 and 47 in 2007-08) and in winning percentage (.653, 209 of 320 points). He also was named head coach of the PlanetUSA Team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey/AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto, leading his team to a 7-6 victory over the Canadian squad.
Before Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Richards served as an assistant coach (2002-06) with the Milwaukee Admirals. During his time in Milwaukee, the Admirals won two West Division titles (2003-04 and 2005-06) and made two trips to the Calder Cup Finals, winning the AHL title in 2003-04.
A former defenseman, Richards captured several other championships throughout his career, including a pair of Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Championships with the University of Minnesota (1988 and 1989), the 1991 Calder Cup with Springfield, the 2001 Turner Cup (International Hockey League) in Orlando, and he even brought home a Swiss-B League title with Servette Geneve in 2002.
Richards was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round (33rd overall) of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft and made his NHL debut with the Hartford Whalers in 1990-91, playing eight games over the next two seasons and posting four assists. He also appeared in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games with Hartford, adding three assists.
During his four seasons at the University of Minnesota, he was named a member of the WCHA Second All-Star Team for three consecutive seasons (1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89) and was team captain during his senior season.
Following his stints in the Montreal and Hartford organizations, the native of Crystal, Minn. joined the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder and was named the league’s top defender in 1994-95. He spent the next six seasons with the Orlando Solar Bears, captaining the squad for four seasons and winning the IHL Championship in 2000-01, the league’s final year of existence.
Richards concluded his playing career with Servette Geneve of Switzerland in 2001-02, where he was he was also named the league’s top defenseman.
Richards and his wife Maryann have two sons: Zachary and Justin.