Tag Archives: Todd Richards

Richards Relieved; Rest Of Staff Still In Place

The offseason is supposed to be downtime. Not so on day one.

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher let Head Coach Todd Richards know this morning that he would be let go.

Contrary to reports on Twitter and in the media, nobody else on the coaching staff has been terminated. The contracts of Dave Barr and P.J. Deluca expire at the end of June, but their return is largely dependent on the new coach, who will have a huge say in how his staff will be built. The current staff also includes assistants Rick Wilson and Darby Hendrickson, as well as goaltending coach Bob Mason.

During his press conference today, it was evident how tough a decision this was for Fletcher. He noted Richards’ work ethic and desire to win, while also thinking about the coach’s family. He said the results “are what they are,” and that he’ll be looking “for the right fit” and someone who can get more out of some of the players on the roster.

To see Fletcher’s press conference, click here.

The players also took it hard. In most cases, when a coach is fired, the players bear a lot of the burden and today was no different.

See what Mikko Koivu had to say to the media here, Andrew Brunette’s reaction here, Cal Clutterbuck’s thoughts here and John Madden’s reaction here.

Wednesday Practice Update; Backs To Start Thursday

Good afternoon, Wild fans!

The Wild returned to the ice at Xcel Energy Center about 14 hours after clinching a much-needed win in St. Louis last night. While I’m sure there was some relief among the players and staff after Jose Theodore turned aside the final attempt in the shootout, the team was in no way celebrating today.

Head Coach Todd Richards might have summed it up best in his post-practice talk with the media: “Nobody’s happy where we’re at, with everything that went on over the last two weeks. I think we’ll always have that, we’ll always be thinking about these two weeks and really trying to connect the dots and what happened, because we’re a better team than how we’ve been playing.”

Still, the team isn’t spending too much time looking back when it still has games ahead. After last night’s win, Mikko Koivu talked about bringing this type of performance back to St. Paul, saying the team owed to the fans to play better hockey on home ice. Today, Richards said the team has a lot of pride and is striving to give fans a better performance. The head coach was happy with what he saw from his team against the Blues and is looking for the Wild to continue that effort tomorrow night.

Click here to watch the video of Todd Richards’ talk with the media this afternoon.

As far as today’s skate, it was a fairly typical practice. Despite missing last night’s game with a leg injury, Chuck Kobasew practiced today and, as Richards said after the skate, “more than likely will be OK to play” against the Oilers. Cam Barker and James Sheppard also joined the healthy players out on the ice.

Richards said he will have to talk to his staff to determine the lineup for tomorrow’s game, whether Kobasew plays, Wellman is reassigned, or another forward comes out. He did say that Niklas Backstrom will start tomorrow against the Oilers, which isn’t surprising since Backs is 13-0-0 against Edmonton in St. Paul. Yeah, that’s not too shabby.

In addition to the on-ice stuff tomorrow, you’ll want to come down because the game against the Oilers starts the 2011 Wild Fan Celebration. All fans in attendance will have a chance to win the jerseys off the players’ backs, which will be presented to the winning fans on ice following the game. Get all those details here. Additionally, tomorrow’s game will be the final night for the Wild wives and girlfriends “Our Favorite Things” basket auction. I’ve seen some of baskets, and even if you didn’t care about the player-autographed items, you’d still want to bid on one for the sheer number of cool items in them. Get the details on the auction here.

Finally, a special thank you to all the fans who came out to the Mall of America for the Wild Interactive Viewing Party last night along with FS North, Best Buy and SONY. I was busy writing the live, in-game commentary, but it looked like everyone was having a great time and I was glad to see Wild jerseys take over the MOA. Have a good afternoon, all!

Wild Heads Back On The Road

Good Afternoon from St. Paul, where the Wild players are currently packing up their hockey bags and getting ready to head to the airport as they go out on the road once again. It seems like every time you turn around, the team is leaving for a road trip – but with the way the guys have played on the road this season, you can’t really complain about a lack of extended home stands.

This time, the Wild heads to Denver for a matchup with the Avalanche tomorrow and then to Phoenix for a game Saturday. Tomorrow’s game should be interesting because the Wild and Avs had some VERY physical contests earlier in the year, but the last contest between the two was relatively mellow – what type of game will it be tomorrow? Of course, both games have plenty of importance since they are Western Conference battles and the playoff race continues to get tighter, even when you think it can’t be possible.

Speaking of Phoenix, they blew a lead last night to San Jose and the Sharks ended up winning 5-3, meaning the Wild’s stay 8th place and playoff position lasted about two hours. I talked to Matt Cullen about it after practice and thought some of the things he said were very interesting: basically saying that while it can at times be frustrating that the Wild’s winning and not making much headway in the standings, the team feels good because the tight standings are practically like a playoff race and the Wild is dealing with the pressure of that and winning.

As for practice itself, every Wild player was on the ice for a pretty fast-paced 45 minutes or so and looked like they’ve gotten rid of the All-Star rust. Todd Richards reiterated after practice that Jose Theodore will start in Colorado, adding that they made the decision before break. Regardless of Niklas Backstrom’s great play of late, they want to make sure they have both goalies to use down the stretch and Jose needs to get some playing time in. Listen to Todd Richards entire scrum with the media on this Wild PONDcast.

I saw photos last night, but I finally got to see the shirts honoring Andrew Brunette’s 1,000th NHL game that all the players and team staff got yesterday:

They’re pretty sweet up close. Brunette was on NHL Live this afternoon to talk about the milestone and will be honored with a pre-game ceremony at the next Wild home game Wednesday against the Avalanche.

Finally, in case you didn’t see it last night, I’ll leave you with video of Niklas Backstrom’s absolutely unbelieveable, amazing, jaw-dropping and a million other adjectives save on Jack Johnson in the shootout last night. Watch it here.

Backstrom To Start; Staubitz Instigator Rescinded

Good early afternoon, State of Hockey legion. Hope you all had a little extra caffeine this morning to get you going after staying up late to watch the Wild win in Edmonton last night. I know I certainly needed some coffee to write today’s game preview after finishing last night’s recap. Be sure you’ve prepped with caffeine infused drinks tonight as it’s another late start out west when the Wild drop the puck in Calgary at 8:30 CT.  Oh, the tolls of back-to-backs.

As suspected the past few days, Niklas Backstrom has been confirmed as the Wild’s starting goalie tonight after serving as the backup for the past few games. Backs will get his first start since Dec. 31 after injuring his hip and missing four games. Backstrom has played well against Calgary recently, going 7-1-1 in his last nine starts (10 games) against the Flames, holding a 1.22 GAA, a.958 SV%, and two shutouts in those contests.

In some (somewhat) unexpected news from this morning’s skate, it was announced that the NHL has rescinded Brad Staubitz’s instigator penalty for fighting with less than five minutes left in last night’s game. Staubitz said after the game he hoped the NHL would reverse the call on the ice because he was standing up for the Wild’s All-Star.. It seems the NHL agreed, so Staubitz will not be suspended for tonight’s game and Todd Richards will not be fined $10,000. I’d have to imagine that’s a nice feeling since a fee like that might send me to the Emergency Room.

Of course, Staubitz could be out of the lineup tonight if Richards decided to make him the healthy scratch, but for now the same lineup is expected in Calgary, meaning Cody Almond will watch from the press box.

Enjoy the rest of your day and don’t forget to catch the Wild as the guys go for three straight at 8:30 on KSTC-TV (HD), WCCO 830 radio and the always hysterical Glen Andresen on wild.com’s live, in-game commentary.

Friday Practice Update: Team Talk, New Lines and Clutterbuck “Banged Up”

Happy Friday, State of Hockey legion. After a holiday lunch with the staff down at Wild headquarters, I thought I’d throw up a late post about this morning’s Wild practice.

After a disappointing loss to the Ottawa Senators last night, I was interested to see the type of practice the Wild would have this morning at Xcel Energy Center. And while the practice itself was a typical skate, if not for a little short so the team could get to the airport and fly to Calgary, it was a moment before practice that stood out.

At the beginning of practice, players arced around the white board on the glass as they normally do when a coach is outlining a new drill or something he wants to focus on in the practice. The only difference this morning is that it wasn’t a drill they were talking about. In a rather calm conversation, Head Coach Todd Richards spoke before John Madden, Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette and other leaders on the team talked. Watching from the stands, it looked more like students responding to their teacher’s questions, than giving a speech to the team.

When he was asked about the talk during his scrum with the media, Richards was noticeably succinct saying they were “just having a friendly conversation.” When pressed for a little more on the subject, Richards would only say, “We just talked about last night’s game. That was really it. Just wanted to have their thoughts on last nights game.”

When I asked if the players that were talking during the gathering spoke up on their own or if he was asking them questions, Richards responded, “A couple guys spoke up on their own, otherwise, I asked questions to certain players.” And while he was completely amiable discussing the topic, it was pretty obvious that Richards wasn’t about to share any more details on the discussion.

The entire talk on the ice only lasted a few minutes, but it was a pretty unusual moment and something I haven’t witnessed at a practice before. Certainly, it had some meaning for this team as it tries to get back on the winning track.

As for the practice itself, the team worked on a variety of drills including breaking into the offensive zone, as well as PP and PK. Clutterbuck was the only player missing from the ice today. Richards said Clutter was “banged up” but his status for tomorrow night’s game in Calgary was uncertain because Richards hadn’t spoken with the training staff yet. But Clutterbuck did fly with the team to Calgary.

As for the rest of the lineup tomorrow night, Richards said he had not decided who would start in net tomorrow and would probably make the decision on the flight. Matt Cullen practiced and Richards said he is expected to return to the lineup tomorrow night. If both Cullen and Clutterbuck play, as Richards said, “We’ll have to make a decision of who’s in and who’s out.”

Practice featured some new lines, including Chuck Kobasew skating on line with Koivu and Brunette, along with Patrick O’Sullivan on the wing with Cullen and Antti Miettinen. Richards said, “We may go into the game tomorrow night with them.”

Finally, as the team gets ready for a home-and-home series with a tough division rival, Richards said the focus is not the rivalry with Calgary, but coming away with wins. “Right now, it really doesn’t matter who we’re playing, whether it’s division, non-division – two points is two points. And we have to get points in games, regardless of who we’re playing.”

A Long Monday

After seven games in 11 days, the Minnesota Wild players had the day off, which they most certainly enjoyed unless they are Gopher football fans (although hopefully some of the public sentiment has changed after the new head coach’s entertaining press conference). But every player knows that the day after an off day is going to be a serious work day, especially with three non-game days ahead.

Players were worked for more than an hour in what Todd Richards said had “a good pace.” The guys have more work ahead of them tonight, however, when they don ties and aprons to serve dinner and drinks to fans at the Wild About Children event at Pazzaluna in downtown St. Paul. The always popular event raises money to benefit Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Eric Nystrom, who has quickly established himself as one of the locker room cutups, will be interviewing his teammates for Wild TV. Let the hilarity ensue.

Back to practice. Brent Burns missed today’s skate due to illness. However, the Wild did have six defensemen because Clayton Stoner returned to the ice after suffering an upper body injury. It looks as though he’ll be available when the Wild resumes play on Thursday in Phoenix.

Richards talked at length about Jared Spurgeon today, saying he still falls into the category of “good enough to get here, but is he good enough to stay here?” But despite a few struggles against the big forwards of Dallas, Richards praised his puck-moving and ability to limit opponent scoring chances. He also said he wins a lot of battles for a guy his size.

Richards was then asked about his “state of mind” and one reporter said there’s been “reports in the media” about his job. Richards’ response was, “Aren’t you the media?” which was followed by loud guffaws from everyone in attendance. But Richards was pushed on the topic, and I’ll refer you to Kevin Falness’ PONDcast for his interesting take on the situation. Go to the end of the media address for all of that.

And speaking of Falness, it is his birthday today, and I encourage you all to friend him on Facebook so you can wish him the best on the big 5-0!

Thursday Practice Update: Richards on Falk, Scandella

Happy Thursday, everyone. Hope you’ve got some big plans tonight to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Stache himself, Cal Clutterbuck. More on that in a bit.

I made a quick stop at practice this morning. On ice, it was drills as usual with the same injured Wild players still missing from action. Off-ice, much of the talk was about the big Wild news of the day, defenseman Justin Falk being assigned to Houston. With Brent Burns returning from his two-game suspension, you knew the Wild was going to make a move to send down one of its eight blueliners, but perhaps it was a little surprising that the move was made this quickly or that the defenseman was in fact Falk.

Falk’s played in all but one game this season, continuously earning praise for his poised play. But as Head Coach Todd Richards said after practice today, Falk’s game “has been slipping a little bit.” Richards quickly added, “It doesn’t mean he was bad, it just means we don’t want our young players sitting around…We’ll get him down and he can play some games and log some big minutes down there and when the opportunity arises again, when the door opens, I’m sure he’ll jump and be good at the opportunity.”

When asked why Falk was chosen over other defenseman, Richards said the following: “[Clayton] Stoner has a little bit different element than Falk does, with the toughness and the grit, so sometimes that leads into the decisions, too.” He added, “It’s circumstances right now. We have eight guys and Scandella’s come up and done a really good job.”

“This is what you want in an organization,” said Richards. “You want young guys pushing for ice time here…to me, that’s what drives teams is that competition for ice times. It’s a healthy competition.”

Richards went on to talk about the three solid games Scandella has had with the expected “surge of adrenaline and excitement” that comes with your NHL debut and making sure his play doesn’t start to drop off. He recalled Claude Noel always saying, “Players are good enough to get here – are they good enough to stay here?”

Richards also noted that the 20-year-old Scandella will have to control his emotions during tomorrow’s game in Detroit. “I’m sure he’s watching [Nicklas] Lidstrom, as a kid, play. And you’re going to be out on the same ice as him. You might be lining up next to him on a faceoff. So, that’s where the shock and the awe comes in a little bit. And you’ve got to get over that.”

After yesterday’s performance, Richards is looking for the whole team to have better control against the Red Wings “in emotion and play.” Richards talked about the Wild’s tendency to have a period of great play, followed by a period of low-caliber hockey, saying, “it can’t be the extremes.”

As for this weekend’s goaltending lineup, Richards said Jose Theodore will start in net against Detroit. He added that for the Rangers contest, “We’ll wait and we’ll see on Saturday.”

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, it’s Cal Clutterbuck’s 23rd birthday today. There wasn’t any confetti or cake around his locker stall this morning, but apparently ClutterStache is showering him with gifts throughout the day.