Coaching vet Torchetti to lead Aeros

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 5, 2011 - 7:20 PM
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Assistant coach John Torchetti, center, celebrated with Duncan Keith (2), Jonathan Toews, second from left, and Tomas Kopecky after teh Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup. On Tuesday, Torchetti was named coach of the Houston Aeros, the Wild's AHL affiliate.

Photo: Matt Slocum, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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With a new wave of Wild youngsters set to join the Houston Aeros' core of veterans next season, the Wild hired a veteran coach Tuesday with a strong pedigree of teaching.

John Torchetti, who has coached at every level imaginable, will return to the American Hockey League to run the Wild's minor league affiliate after spending the past four seasons as an NHL assistant.

"I missed that teaching aspect you get as the head coach," Torchetti said. "I just missed the watching and thinking about 22 guys every day and every night, and developing them. I miss teaching. You teach more as the head coach.

"So this is a great opportunity to go work for some great people I know very well. The direction is fantastic; they're heading the right way, and I want to help develop the guys to eventually make it to the NHL."

Torchetti, who turns 47 on Saturday, comes to the Wild after serving last season as associate coach with the Atlanta Thrashers. Before that, he was an assistant in Chicago since 2007, helping the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup in 2010.

He has 15 years of pro coaching experience, spending time in the ECHL, CHL (coach of the year in 1995 in San Antonio), IHL (coach of the year in 1998 in Fort Wayne), AHL and NHL.

He also has been an interim head coach with the Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings and assistant with the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Torchetti coached the San Antonio Rampage -- then Florida's AHL affiliation -- when Wild assistant general manager Brent Flahr ran the club. He also was an assistant coach in Greensboro when Aeros GM Jim Mill was a goalie in Raleigh, N.C.

"Very much like [predecessor and Wild coach] Mike Yeo, Torch is a winner," Mill said. "He's won at every level. He's got great communication skills with players, and he's passionate about the game. He's a true student of the game."

A former minor league goal-scorer, Torchetti got his start learning from Rick Dudley when he managed and coached the old Atlantic Coast League's Carolina Thunderbirds in the mid-1980s. Dudley used to drive the bus, and Torchetti would sit in the front seat and talk hockey and life with Dudley until the wee hours of the morning.

Dudley brought Torchetti to Tampa Bay, Florida, Chicago and Atlanta.

Torchetti began coaching in the early '90s for free. To make money, he drove a taxi for 3 1/2 years.

"He's just a great story," Mill said.

Torchetti will start his new job this weekend by preparing to run the Wild's development camp, which begins Monday and concludes July 17 in St. Paul.

Next season in Houston, Torchetti is expected to have a team consisting of youngsters including Tyler Cuma, Kris Foucault, Chad Rau, Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper, Chay Genoway, Justin Fontaine, Jarod Palmer and Kyle Medvec with veterans Jed Ortmeyer, Drew Bagnall, Jon DiSalvatore, Warren Peters and Jeff Taffe.

Powe gets three-year deal

The Wild signed restricted free agent Darroll Powe to a three-year, $3.2 million contract Tuesday -- the same day he could have filed for arbitration.

Powe, 26, was acquired by the Wild on June 27 for a 2013 third-round draft pick from the Philadelphia Flyers. A top penalty killer slated to play on the third line, Powe logged the second-most short-handed minutes among Flyers forwards (257) and led the Flyers with 196 hits.

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