Richards, Wild try to shake pervasive mood of dejection

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 27, 2011 - 11:43 PM

As the season-killing skid continues, the team is trying to salvage something.


Wild coach Todd Richards

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

After another long night Saturday, after the Wild lost another one-sided game, coach Todd Richards went home, got into bed. The 6-3 loss to St. Louis was running through his head, over and over. So you're thinking, no sleep, right? Tossing, turning, fretting, worrying.

"You know what? I actually fell asleep right away," Richards said after Sunday's practice at St. Thomas Academy. "I woke up at 3 in the morning, that was the only problem. Up the rest of the night."

Yes, the Wild practiced Sunday. And no, Richards didn't skate his players into oblivion, yell or rant or scream. The time for that is past, he said.

"At this stage of the season there are expectations and guys know," he said. "I've done a lot of talking over the last four or five days, really since the Montreal game. I've done enough talking. ... It's not about beating the guy completely into the ground. They feel bad enough the way it is."

So, the night after the Wild's winless streak reached eight games, the team bused to practice and hit the ice for an up-tempo, businesslike workout. On a day some expected to hear yelling, the volume was surprisingly subdued. On the night after a 30-minute postgame meeting between coaches and players, there were few smiles. In the dressing room, as the players ditched their skates for sneakers, there wasn't a lot of banter. Veteran Matt Cullen talked about being professional, working hard, trying to keep your head up. "Everyone feels sick about it," he said of the streak. "There are really no excuses."

But does everybody? Really? The difficult question after another one-sided loss is whether everybody is still bought in.

After the game Andrew Brunette treated the word "quit" as if it was a live hand grenade, a four-letter word as big as an elephant in the team's dressing room.

Will that meeting put the team back at reset, ready to salvage something from the final seven games?

"I hope so," Cullen said. "We all hope it will, we all expect it to.''

Said veteran center John Madden: "We won't know until we get on the ice [Tuesday] and play. We'll find out who is buying in and who is not."

Center Kyle Brodziak put it well: "We're in a brutal situation right now. ... I am [still bought-in]. That's all I know. I really hope [the whole team] is. We have to battle for each other. There is nothing else, really. We can't lose that. Because no matter how bad it is now, it can get worse. It can definitely get worse."

That's what it comes down to. In Richards' view, skating the players senseless just didn't make sense to him -- even with his seat growing hotter by the game, even with the specter of changes potentially coming. During Saturday's game he tried to switch things around. Veteran winger Martin Havlat was limited to less than 11 minutes of ice time, for example. Asked if he had benched Havlat, Richards said, "The way the game was going, I thought there were other guys I needed to use."

Said Havlat: "No reaction to that. It's the coach's decision."

Havlat said he shared his teammates' disappointment. "Everybody is disappointed," he said. "It's going to be another year without the playoffs. We have to finish hard, play our best to the last game of the season. ... We were right there two weeks ago, and now everything is gone."

Richards deflected talk of his job security, noting with some muted sarcasm that he always can tell how things are going by the questions he's asked by the media. He admitted how tempted he was to run a more taxing practice. "The guys, if you talk to them, to a man they're all embarrassed with the way the game went," he said. "They're disappointed with the way the end of the season is winding down, and they're hard on themselves. And, to be honest with you, I've been hard on 'em this year in certain instances. I didn't feel it was the time where I had to knock 'em down any lower."

But know this: Richards was able to find sleep after a bad game Saturday. No matter what happens going forward, he will have peace of mind. He'll find sleep again.

"I have two kids, so you always want to be a role model to your kids," Richards said. "And I'm not perfect by any means. ... I made mistakes along the way. That's how you learn. But when I put my head on the pillow every night, knowing you can sleep and rest and relax? I have that. Obviously I want our team to do better. But, as far as the daily things I've done, I'm comfortable. I'm fine with that."

  • WILD Up next: 7 p.m. Tuesday at St. Louis • TV: FSN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the hockey season?

Weekly Question