The last few days for some NHL head coaches could be labeled as "The Black Weekend".
Cory Clouston and Peter DeBoer received the bad news over the weekend and this morning it was Todd Richards' turn to learn that he would be relieved of his duties behind the bench for the Minnesota Wild.
Richards' change to the Wild's old system under Jacques Lemaire wasn't as successful as many had hoped.
He was only the second head coach in franchise history and in two seasons only managed to improve the team by one place in the Western Conference standings (13th to 12th) and one win and two points (38 to 39 and 84 to 86). This season, the Wild's long-time sellout streak ended and the product on the ice did not live up to the caliber of its $58 million payroll.
On Sunday, the Star-Tribune's Michael Russo spelled out some of Richards' weaknesses:
"There could be growing pains, so does it make sense to pay Richards not to coach and burn the first year of a more expensive veteran coach in such a transition?
On the flip side, Richards has made mistakes.
Matching lines still is not something he's big on, even at home, where it's easier. Despite two consecutive missed postseasons, Richards usually kept his top line intact, only trying playmaker Pierre-Marc Bouchard there the final two games. His relationship with Martin Havlat still is rocky.
And during the losing streak, Richards was out of answers and wore dejection on his face."
Who do the Wild turn to now? The typical names will likely be floated out there, but the Wild may only need to look upstairs in the scouting department towards Michel Therrien. Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher was in Pittsburgh for three years during Therrien's time there and you know the former Penguins coach would love to return to the coaching ranks.
- Todd Richards