PITTSBURGH – John Torchetti joked Thursday night that he's leaving the State of Hockey for Hockeytown.
The former Wild interim coach turned down a contract offer to return to being the head coach of Iowa of the AHL, instead opting for a two-year deal to be one of Jeff Blashill's assistants with the Detroit Red Wings.
"I just felt I wanted to get back in the NHL again after seeing how everything went there and working with the kids again, the guys that I had and just that level of intensity and commitment every night," Torchetti said in his first public comments since the Wild hired Bruce Boudreau over him.
"I just wanted to work with that athlete again."
Torchetti guided the Wild to a 15-11-1 record and the Western Conference's second wild-card spot after replacing Mike Yeo in February with the team out of a playoff position.
"I was really disappointed [not to get the head-coaching job]," said Torchetti, a three-time interim coach in the NHL. "Don't forget, it's something that you're striving for your entire career. I thought I finally did a good enough job considering the situation, but the situation was beyond me after that. Then it's up to other people."
Torchetti said he has no hard feelings toward General Manager Chuck Fletcher or assistant GM Brent Flahr, who doubles as Iowa's GM.
"Chuck and myself and Flahrsy, we were good friends before it, during it, after it and after it again," Torchetti said. "… We all know what loyalty means. We'll be friends forever."
Laughing, he then added: "Now, if you asked me that four weeks ago, it might have been a little different. That's just the business."
Torchetti was especially proud of the way Mikael Granlund played down the stretch.
"One thing that offended me when I got there, everybody saying Granlund was a bust," Torchetti said. "This kid is a great hockey player. I hope fans believe that now. I'm sure they see the difference in his game in that little time. That's what I like, what I enjoy.
"I thought Mikko [Koivu] played fantastic in the playoffs. Just a great leader. I thought the team was bonding pretty good and was heading in the right direction, and now Boudreau's in and he'll do a great job. He's been a great coach in the league. I wish him the best of luck. He's a good guy."
The Wild would like to address the Iowa opening before the June 24-25 draft, if not sooner.
David Cunniff, 8-11-2-3 as Iowa's interim coach after Torchetti's promotion, will get strong consideration. He is the son of former New Jersey Devils and Hartford Whalers coach John Cunniff.