The news of Todd Richards’ firing as head coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild is barely a day old. And while he will likely be able to land on his feet somewhere in the National Hockey League (or as a head coach in the AHL), it seems to me there is one job out there he is suited perfectly for.
Head coach, University of Minnesota.
I know what you’re saying: Yes, the Gophers already have a coach. But in case you haven’t read, or if you live in Minnesota and you’ve been under a rock, Don Lucia’s status isn’t exactly on the firmest of grounds. So if you’re Minnesota A.D. Joel Maturi and the pressure is on to make a move, the news of the last 24 hours should likely give you even more reason to pull the trigger.
This isn’t meant to be a referendum on Lucia. He’s a great coach. But with expectations at their traditional highs and results at a historic low, not to mention the graduation of four of the team’s top 5 scorers (and already one early departure), the time to cut an run might be now, especially with such a qualified candidate cleaning his office just 7 miles down the road.
To me, there isn’t a more perfect candidate anywhere. Consider:
- Richards is a Minnesota native, having starred at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School (Crystal, Minn.). He and his wife, Maryann, currently reside there with his two sons, Zachary (15) and Justin (13).
- He had a successful career as a player at the University of Minnesota and is one of the most prolific defensemen in the history of the Gopher program, scoring 30 goals and adding 158 assists in four years.
- Has head coaching experience with the Wild, going 77-71-16 over the last two seasons. He’s also been both a head coach and an assistant coach in the AHL and an assistant coach in the NHL.
- At just 44 years of age, Richards could be the face of the program for the next 25 years.
- He preaches an up-tempo style of play that is attractive to many recruits. He also has NHL credentials and connections that would be attractive as well.
- He was a high NHL draft pick as a player (second round) but stayed all four years in college, winning two WCHA titles and playing in a national championship game.
Now, I have no idea if Richards would even be interested in the job, but you’d have to think he’d consider it. He just recently returned to Minnesota two years ago, has his children enrolled in school there, playing hockey there and making friends there. The job would pay him in the neighborhood of what an NHL assistant would make and would allow him to keep his home and current lifestyle intact.
Sounds like a win-win to me.