CHICAGO – One year after Bruce Boudreau hired John Anderson to coach alongside one of his best friends for the first time, the Wild coach will reunite with another longtime confidant.
The Wild made the hiring of Bob Woods as assistant coach official Saturday.
This is the fourth time the two men will coach together. Not only was Woods Boudreau’s player-assistant once upon a time for the Mississippi Sea Wolves, Woods was Boudreau’s assistant with the Hershey Bears, Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. Woods was considered last year’s front-runner to coach the Wild’s defense until Hall of Famer Scott Stevens expressed an interest to coach.
Stevens has since stepped down.
“He’ll push me and I’ll push him,” Boudreau said of Woods, a former defenseman and member of the ECHL Hall of Fame. “He knows how to coach and mold young kids, and he knows the game well enough and he’s old enough that I think he’ll be a great communicator with the Suts [Ryan Suter] and the older guys that we have on our team.”
After Boudreau and Woods won a championship in Mississippi, the two men won a Calder Cup together in Hershey in 2005-06. When Boudreau was promoted to Washington, Woods took over the Bears and eventually coached them to a Calder Cup, too.
Last season, Woods was an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres and coached the league’s top-ranked power play. He is looking forward to working with the Wild’s talented cast of blue-liners.
“I think they have the opportunity to do something special, and anything I can do to help, I’m there for them and I can’t wait to get to meet them and start building that relationship,” said Woods, 49.
Woods, who will be in Minnesota to help run development camp July 7-13, will coach the defensemen and penalty kill. He’ll call the blue-line line changes from the bench.
“I thought long and hard about it and I think we’ll work really good as a group,” Boudreau said. “He’s very supportive of me and we’ve won everywhere. And he knows me. He knows when I’m going off the edges and stuff like that, he knows when to pull me in. It’s like an old girlfriend that you’ve been around for a long time. They know you after a while. And he does. He knows me and he gets me.”
Added Woods: “I think part of my job is filling in the cracks. Bruce doesn’t have many of them. But I try to seal anything that I can. I love working with him, I love his passion for the game. I love his relationships with the players. This is a guy that has success for a reason. The one thing is I know Bruce will do everything in his power to try to bring that Cup to Minnesota, and I’m going to be there right beside him.”
Without a first- and second-round pick, the Wild drafted 5-10 winger Ivan Lodnia in the third round at 85th overall. For the Memorial Cup runner-up Erie Otters, Lodnia scored 24 goals and had 57 points in 66 games and will be on Erie’s top line next season.
Lodnia was born in Los Angeles. His father, Konstantin, came to the United States from the Ukraine in the mid-1990s with $100 in his pocket.
“They just wanted to see what America was like,” Lotvia said of his parents. “My dad played hockey, he just kind of got me on skates. He’s the reason why I’m sitting here today. He’s done everything for me.”
With its first of two fourth-round picks, the Wild took center Mason Shaw from Medicine Hat. The playmaking, energetic center finished eighth in the WHL last season with 94 points and is buddies with Wild prospect Carson Soucy.
One interesting pick came in the sixth round when the Wild took supremely talented center Andrei Svetlakov, who happens to be prospect Kirill Kaprizov’s CSKA Moscow and world junior teammate and former linemate. The Wild discounted that this looked like a tactical decision to draft a friend, but nobody from the team has ever met Kaprizov and wants to ensure the prized prospect signs with the Wild to play the 2018-19 season.
“Svetlakov is a guy with tremendous ability,” GM Chuck Fletcher said. “I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get him over here. He’s already an older player. But if he does come, he has a very good chance of playing.”
• Fletcher didn’t meet with the agents of restricted free agents Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter this weekend but plans to start the process this week.
• The Wild might not tender defenseman Christian Folin a qualifying offer Monday but hopes to work out a contract.
• From its expansion draft deal, Vegas opted to give Minnesota a third-round pick in 2018 instead of this year.
• Wild prospect Joel Eriksson Ek’s brother, Olle, a goalie, was selected 153rd by Anaheim.