Nerves, but no hard feelings, as Richards returns to Xcel

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 8, 2011 - 1:46 AM
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Former Wild coach Todd Richards.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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With clammy hands and a sweaty brow, Todd Richards will walk into Xcel Energy Center on Saturday for the first time since being fired in April as the Wild's coach.

He can't wait to walk out -- hopefully with a Columbus Blue Jackets victory in tow.

"It's almost like a girlfriend you broke up with," said Richards, now a Blue Jackets assistant. "The first time you see her, it's a little bit awkward, you don't know what to say, and there's probably a little bitterness and anger. But once you get past the first time, then you just move on."

Richards, a former Gopher, said he'll always return to his native Minnesota, where his family still lives.

"We are Ohioans, but we aren't Buckeyes," Richards quipped.

Richards has adjusted to life as an assistant, telling his wife during a day off last week: "It's actually a day off. I turned the mind off."

Richards missed the playoffs two years in a row with the Wild, but he said he learned a couple of valuable lessons. However, he wouldn't talk specifics.

"I think I made a couple decisions at the beginning that I shouldn't have, and a couple little things both years led to it unraveling," Richards said. "I won't make those mistakes again, but I'm a firm believer that if I have a problem, I'll do it face to face, man to man, and not go through the papers.

"So there's no sense burning bridges and creating more problems. I was the guy in charge, ... but I know it wasn't all my fault."

Fedun update

General Manager Chuck Fletcher was one of many from the Wild organization to visit Oilers defenseman Taylor Fedun since his accident last week at Xcel Energy Center. Fedun broke a leg on a touch-ice icing during a collision with Wild forward Eric Nystrom.

Fedun, a Princeton graduate who was vying for a roster spot, was released from Regions Hospital on Friday to return to his hometown of Edmonton. He'll live with his parents and rehab under the guidance of Oilers doctors.

"You just hate to see accidents like that in the game of hockey," Fletcher said. "The kid had a good training camp, and then a bad twist of fate for him, he's left with a broken leg and his season ended."

Fletcher was joined by owner Craig Leipold. Assistant GM Brent Flahr and forward Darroll Powe, two Princeton alums, also visited Fedun.

"He knows he has a long road ahead of him, but he's already looking forward to the challenge of coming back and getting his pro career going," Fletcher said.

Etc.

• Nystrom cleared waivers Friday and was assigned to AHL Houston. Barring a trade, Nystrom will be in the Aeros' lineup for Sunday's opener against the Chicago Wolves. The Wild also can eventually opt to recall Nystrom on re-entry waivers to try to entice another team to take Nystrom at half his $1.4 million salary.

• Defenseman Nick Schultz will be a full-time alternate captain this season. Center Matt Cullen and right winger Dany Heatley will share the other 'A.' Cullen will wear it at home in the first half of the season, Heatley on the road. In the second half, they'll flip.

• Enforcer Matt Kassian (broken finger) might come off injured reserve Saturday, but even if he does, it's unclear whether he'll play.

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