The Wild’s AHL affiliate moves from Houston to Des Moines next season and will have to be under the guidance of a new coach.
John Torchetti, the veteran benchboss who won a Stanley Cup as a Chicago Blackhawks assistant in 2010, will become the new head coach of CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League. He signed a three-year deal.
"[Sergei] Fedorov is the GM and he's been great," Torchetti said. "He came over and talked to me and called me a lot. It's something new for me and will be a good challenge. They want to win and I'm looking forward to having a chance to win, too."
The Wild exercised Torchetti’s option for next season, but he had an out clause. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Torchetti was offered a “huge deal” to leave.
“We need a new head coach in Des Moines,” Fletcher said. “I’m hoping this week we can bump into a few people while in New York [for the draft]. Maybe we can talk to two or three people and the following week bring people in.
“I don’t want it to extend forever. It’s an opportunity. It’s going to be a pretty young team there, so the primary focus will be development.”
Iowa next season will have a number of young players turning pro, including Johan Gustafsson, Raphael Bussieres, Tyler Graovac and Erik Haula.
One candidate could be Kurt Kleinendorst. The Grand Rapids, Minn., native was runner-up to Mike Yeo when the Wild hired him three years ago and is close with Iowa Wild GM Jim Mill. Kleinendorst recently resigned from the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
Kleinendorst coached Binghamton to a Calder Cup championship three years ago over, ahem, Yeo’s Houston Aeros.
Torchetti's Houston Aeros went 75-51-26 in two seasons, making the playoffs in both years.
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After another third-period letdown that led to a loss at Winnipeg, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau expressed frustration with key players.
The Wild end a five-day break in the schedule with a game at Winnipeg on Friday, and Boudreau hopes to see results from the lessons imparted at this week's practices.
Wingers Mikael Granlund and Marcus Foligno both returned to practice for the first time after injuries. Granlund's status for the weekend is still uncertain.
With the Wild down to eight healthy forwards, Darby Hendrickson practiced again Tuesday as the team awaits word on Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund.
The Wild had hoped to have Zach Parise back in the lineup Friday, but he left the ice at Monday's Wild practice after about 25 minutes.