Sports Outside the Beltway

Minnesota Wild name Todd Richards as their next head coach

He replaces the recently retired Jacques Lemaire. From AP-

Todd Richards represents the current NHL coaching trend: Inexperience is insignificant.

Richards has returned home to coach the Wild, and the Minnesota native brings with him the promise that the team will play a more exciting, up-tempo style.

He also carries the humility of a playing career consisting of eight NHL games — and a dozen years in the minor leagues.

“You always imagine yourself or picture yourself as a star in the NHL,” Richards said. “I wasn’t able to do that, but other avenues have opened up for me and this has been a great opportunity.”

He’s the latest hire with limited NHL coaching experience, a line on the resume that was far less important to new Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher than philosophy, intuition, and personality.

“I truly believe that talent is the most important thing. … How you deal with people, how you communicate, how you get the players to buy in and execute, your understanding of the game, your integrity,” Fletcher said. “I think your skill set and your overall talent takes precedence over experience.”

Richards was introduced Tuesday as the second head coach in the franchise’s nine-year history, completing a new power structure that began with Craig Leipold’s purchase of the team 1½ years ago. Fletcher was hired last month, when Richards immediately became a front-runner for this job despite only one season as an NHL assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks.

Prior NHL experience isn’t a prerequisite for coaching success in the league. Peter DeBoer never coached or played in the NHL, but took the Florida Panthers last season to its best record in a decade.

Richards will try molding the Wild into his type of team. Will it work? I just don’t know enough about the franchise or its personnel.

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