MINNEAPOLIS — Todd Richards is the latest piece of the Minnesota Wild’s off-season makeover.
Richards was hired Monday as the team’s head coach, according to a person with knowledge of the decision who spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made.
The Wild will hold a news conference today to introduce the second coach in the team’s nine-year history, and Richards will bring a clearly different approach than his predecessor.
Jacques Lemaire resigned in April, ending an era of defence-driven, patient play that helped Minnesota beat better teams but didn’t yield any more than one advancement past the first round of the post-season.
Richards is more than 20 years younger than Lemaire, and he comes with only one year on an NHL bench — last season as an assistant with the San Jose Sharks.
But new Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, who worked with Richards in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, said last month he didn’t see experience as the most important factor in assessing coaching candidates.
Richards spent two years as head coach of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the American Hockey League, helping lead the Penguins’ top farm club to the Calder Cup finals in his last season under Fletcher’s management. Richards was an assistant coach in the AHL for four seasons before that with the Milwaukee Admirals.