Richards' script ends with crash scene

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 12, 2011 - 12:29 AM

 Fired as Wild coach following a late-season fade that cost the team a playoff spot, the Crystal native said he simply "needed to do a better job."

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Former Wild coach Todd Richards, who was fired Monday, behind the bench during a game this season against the Vancouver Canucks.

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune file

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What’s next for Todd Richards?

“I’m going to a movie, I think it’s that new comedy called 'Your Highness,’ that one with Natalie Portman and that guy I like from 'Eastbound and Down,’ I think his name is Danny McBride,” Richards, chuckling, told the Star Tribune on Monday. “That’s exactly what I’m doing next: I’m going to a movie.

“Whenever I need time to get away and relax and take a deep breath, that’s my escape.”
 

Richards and his wife, Maryann, sat at the front door anxiously awaiting their 15- and 13-year-old sons, Zachary and Justin, to get home from school.

It wasn’t going to be an easy conversation, although there’s a chance both knew their father had lost his job as the Wild coach Monday morning.

The conversation was brief inside General Manager Chuck Fletcher’s office.

Richards’ reaction? “Just disappointed. Just disappointed in myself, that’s all,” he said. “I needed to do a better job — simple as that.”

As veteran Andrew Brunette said Monday, it’s amazing how fast it unraveled.

“Eight weeks ago we’re talking about Todd as 'Coach of the Year,’ ” Brunette said. “Things happened so fast.”

Richards agreed, saying: “That’s the way it went a lot of times with us over two years. Things were going good and things then got bad. At times they got better, but at times they didn’t get better.
“The one thing that’s disappointing was when we were playing good hockey before we went on that four-game road trip [to Nashville, Dallas, Vancouver and San Jose], I truly believed we were a playoff team, I really did.

“But we weren’t playing great hockey and I think we missed Mikko [Koivu]. That was a huge injury [broken finger] at a real critical time for us.”

The Wild lost eight in a row, Richards was under siege and the Wild ultimately missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season — the second under Richards.

Still, when Richards woke up Monday morning, “I wasn’t thinking it was going to happen.”

Richards admits he made mistakes, but didn’t want to talk about them publicly Monday. He also didn’t want to talk about the team, a team even Fletcher admits is just not good enough and must add talent.

“I don’t want to get into what I think about the team just because I’m no longer a part of it,” Richards said. “So I don’t want to get into my views of what I think the team is lacking or what it needs.

“There’s some things that I would probably do different though. I don’t think they’re drastic or major things.”

Richards, a Crystal native and former Gophers star, had high hopes when he became coach two years ago.

“Life moves on,” he said. “I’m disappointed being a kid from Minnesota, you want to come here and do well. You want to do well for the fans. The fans supported me 100 percent. You want to do well for them. That’s where the disappointment comes in.”

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