Wild fire coach Todd Richards after 2 seasons
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Wild fired coach Todd Richards on Monday after the team missed the playoffs in each of his two seasons.
General manager Chuck Fletcher announced the decision a day after the Wild finished in 12th place in the Western Conference at 39-35-8, 11 points out of the final playoff spot.
Minnesota has missed the postseason three straight times, the longest streak in the franchise's 10-year history. The Wild have made the playoffs three times, in 2003, 2007 and 2008.
Fletcher took the job two years ago, and his first major decision was to hire Richards, a first-time NHL head coach, as the replacement for Jacques Lemaire, who resigned.
Richards, a native of the Twin Cities area who played for the University of Minnesota, was picked to bring some energy and an up-tempo system. The Wild had become a team lacking star power and scoring punch under Lemaire despite his ability to make the most out of what he had.
Instead, Richards wasn't able to get the Wild over that big hump in the middle of the competitive Western Conference, and they weren't able to overcome injuries to key players or make up for a lack of depth of prospects in the farm system.
Richards said after Sunday's win over Dallas that he had no regrets.
"Without question you look back, and there's always hindsight," Richards said. "Would you do some things differently? Absolutely there are some things I'd do differently, but for the most part there's not too many things I would change."
The 44-year-old Richards went 77-71-16 in his two seasons. He spent one season as an assistant coach for San Jose after two years as head coach in the AHL for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
"I look back over the season, and we did a lot of good things," Richards said. "I think we accomplished some things. It probably doesn't feel that way, but that's how I feel. To me there was growth: growth in players, the chemistry, the culture and things we want to build upon here. But still it leaves you with that disappointment of the finish."
The Wild reached as high as fifth place after the All-Star break, but captain Mikko Koivu missed 11 games with a broken finger and they started a slump that they never snapped out of.
Minnesota went 2-10-1 from March 10 through April 7 before winning the last two games.
"The tough part was 10 games ago when we knew how good we are and things kind of got away from us," forward Cal Clutterbuck said. "Optimism is the only thing you can take into the summer."