Wild's new coach no surprise to Predators' executives past and present

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 4:44pm

David Poile says the Minnesota Wild made the right choice for their new head coach. The actions of former Nashville Predators’ speak to a similar way of thinking.

Todd Richards, a former minor league assistant coach in Nashville’s organization, was named Minnesota’s second coach on Tuesday after one year as an assistant with the San Jose Sharks.

“Todd is a really good choice,” Poile, the Predators’ general manager, said. “He does a really good job. … We saw that when he was in Milwaukee and knew that he’d be on the fast track.”

Richards was an assistant with Milwaukee, the Predators’ AHL affiliate, from 2002 through 2006. That included 2003-04, when the Admirals won the Calder Cup.

His position with the Wild is his third job since then, and the second that has included ties to the Predators. Minnesota’s owner is Craig Leipold, the founding owner of Nashville.

Prior to that he was head coach/general manager of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for three years. Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero, a former Predators’ assistant GM, hired him for that post.

“Todd is a great addition,” Leipold said on the team’s website. “… I followed Todd real closely when he was (with) the Milwaukee Admirals. He’s really well-liked by the players, but he’s respected by the players. He’s going to be great for our team.”

Richards replaces Jacques Lemaire, who was Minnesota’s coach since its inaugural season in 2000-01.

When Lemaire resigned in April, Nashville was left as the only one of the NHL’s four most recent expansion franchises that has not changed coaches. Barry Totz has been in charge for all 10 Predators’ seasons.