In a surprising announcement, particularly by the late timing, Mike Ramsey has resigned as a Wild assistant coach. "Rammer" had been with the Wild since Day One, originally being hired to work alongside Jacques Lemaire and Mario Tremblay.
Ramsey, 49, is fishing right now, so I hope to speak with him later today. But he told the Wild's Kevin Falness during an interview taped last night that it was time for a change and that he wants to spend more time with his family. He's got three children currently in high school and these are "precious" years, Ramsey told Falness.
I just spoke with coach Todd Richards and he said he was "completely taken off guard" when Ramsey informed him of his decision Friday. Richards said Ramsey told him he never felt "comfortable or settled" on the new staff after nearly a decade on Lemaire's.
And I would say that's the real reasoning for the decision. It comes soon after the pro meetings, and if you remember, that was delayed several weeks because Richards was coaching at the World Championships and GM Chuck Fletcher wanted the disappointment of missing the playoffs to wear off so it didn't affect roster evaluation.
As Ramsey says, there's only one Lemaire, and I think Ramsey got used to a certain way of doing things, a certain style of play. And Richards said Ramsey just never felt comfortable this past season.
With that being the case, I can't imagine this is a full retirement for Ramsey. He's a hockey man, has been in the game for 30 years and to just give it up, I can't see it. Yes, he probably takes some time away from the game, but I bet we eventually see Ramsey back in the sport in some capacity.
As Richards said, he'll be "missed." Richards made the point that this is bigger than the Wild, that while Ramsey had a tremendous impact on the NHL team, remember this is a guy who was a high school star, won a national title at the U, a gold medal on the 1980 USA Olympic team and had a terrific pro career mostly in Buffalo.
Ramsey's a good man and was highly respected. He always greeted you with a smile or a hello. Like a lot of those old Buffalo Sabres coincidentally, it was well known that he was frightened to fly. The stories of uneasiness are pretty funny.
As for hiring a new assistant, Richards will take his time and begin sitting down with candidates at next weekend's draft.
One immediate name that comes to mind is Claude Noel, the longtime Columbus Blue Jackets assistant who wasn't retained after finishing this past season as interim head coach.
Noel was basically Richards' mentor when Richards became Noel's assistant in Milwaukee.
Of course, the immediate questions: Would Noel want to be an assistant to his former assistant? And since I know Noel wants to be an NHL head coach, would returning to the AHL as a head coach be more appealing at this juncture of his career? I'd think he'd go that route and he may be close with the Manitoba Moose.
Update. Just talked to Noel, who was sitting on his deck in Columbus: "I’m more focused on being a head coach. I’m looking at those things. I’m just trying to find what brings me the most joy in my life, so no disrespect todd or Minnesota, but I realize I may have to go back to the American Hockey League to do that. I don’t have a real fear of that."
Also, another possible candidate could be Wes Walz. The former Original Wild centerman and Lightning assistant coach has moved back to Minnesota, loves teaching and working with youngsters and would love to get involved with the Wild in some capacity.
Richards says there are lots of names and he'll be patient.
There will be more Friday's paper on this and another story you'll want to read.
-- Hopefully you saw the Derek Boogaard story in today's paper. As I've mentioned on the blog many times and hopefully indicated to you well enough in the story, I do have my doubts that he'll be back.
GM Chuck Fletcher has made it very clear that he doesn't want to inhibit any potential moves either via draft or the opening bell of free agency by tying up cap dollars right now, so I just don't see the Wild re-signing Boogaard before July 1. And usually when it gets to July 1, the player leaves via free agency. The only Wild unrestricted free agent in my history here that re-signed after July 1 was Walz to his final one-year deal.
Also, the key to the story was Fletcher saying he wants to eventually get the Wild to be more of a four-line team. To me, that indicates the likely departure of Boogaard. And while this might be a weak free-agent class, the one area of strength is in the gritty third- and fourth-liners available.
One extra from the story that had to be trimmed: Boogaard did have a difficult season at times last year. He wasn’t in the best shape after offseason shoulder surgery after the 2008-09 season.
-- Here is the Wild's picks next Friday and Saturday AS OF NOW: 9,39,56,69,99,129,159,189
-- Something got fouled up, but as of last night, the Wild's home schedule for the upcoming season was accessible to its season-ticket holders on their manage my account link. It'll be announced Tuesday, and I'll opt not to jump the gun, in part because I know games and dates change right up to the last minute of announcement. One thing I can tell you because GM Chuck Fletcher told me this, seven of the first 10 games are at home, so the Wild hopes that gives it a much better chance to have a better start this year than last.