Many children in Minnesota dream of playing for the Golden Gophers in a Frozen Four, but it is a rare and special career for a Gopher to play in FOUR Frozen Fours! That is what former Gopher Todd Richards
experienced as a Gopher in the mid-to-late 1980s. Richards' last collegiate game was an especially memorable one for Gopher fans, as Minnesota lost to Harvard 4-3 in OT in the National Title game.
Richards' hockey career did not end as a Gopher. Instead, he went on to have an accomplished 13-year professional career that included championships in the International Hockey League, American Hockey League, and Swiss B League. Richards registered 130 goals and 438 assists as a professional. The former Gopher has now traded his hockey stick in for the coaching bench, as he is in his second year as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. The Crystal, Minnesota, native recently shared his memories about his days as a Gopher and the many lessons learned while wearing Maroon and Gold.GopherHole.com: Where has your post Gopher career taken you?
Todd Richards: After my career at the U, I had the opportunity to play professional hockey all over the world. Out of Minnesota, I was drafted by the Montreal Canadians franchise and later traded to the Hartford Whalers franchise, where I played in the NHL during two Stanley Cup Playoff seasons. I played for IHL teams in Las Vegas and Orlando, and in all I played professionally for 13 years. For the last two years, I have been an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Admirals, a member of the American Hockey League. It has been a fun and interesting challenge going from a player to a coach. GH.com: Thinking back to your days as a Gopher, which game/games stick out the most and why?
Richards: I think the one game that obviously sticks out more than any other was the 1989 NCAA Final, where we lost to Harvard 4-3 in overtime. More fondly, though, I have great memories of our great battles and wins over North Dakota. More than picking out specific games as great memories, I think the overall experience of playing for the Gophers is what I think of most often. I had an incredible time wearing the Maroon and Gold and learning to be a better player and person. Also, just spending time with the guys off the ice was quite memorable. GH.com: What former teammates/coaches do you most often keep in contact with?
Richards: Dave Snuggerud, who was my roommate a few years at Minnesota, is a guy that I keep in touch with most often. It's also fun to run into Coach Woog
, and I obviously talk with my brother (former Gopher Travis Richards
). GH.com: What does it mean to you to be a Golden Gopher?
Richards: The Gopher Hockey program has an incredible and rich history, and it means so much to have been a part of that. There have been so many wonderful players that played before and after my time at Minnesota, and to be mentioned in the same company as some of these guys is quite humbling. Gopher Hockey and the people of Minnesota have a special relationship, and I have been fortunate enough to have experienced this as a player and a fan. It makes me very proud to see the recent success the program has had. GH.com: If there is one lesson you learned from a coach or teammate that stands out more than any other, what would it be?
Richards: During my four years at Minnesota, I tried to take bits and pieces from all of my teammates and coaches. There was so much to learn about hockey and life from so many wonderful people. GH.com: Who was the best teammate you ever played with and why?
Richards: Dave Snuggerud was as good of a player and person that I have been around. It is an honor to call him a teammate and friend. GH.com: If you could come back and suit up against one team, who would it be and why?
Richards: I would love to strap on the Maroon and Gold one more time at the old Mariucci Arena to play either Wisconsin or North Dakota. If I were able to play on the road, it would be at North Dakota, as they have a great atmosphere, or Wisconsin for their cheerleaders! GH.com: If you could change a thing or two about your time as a Gopher, what would it be?
Richards: I think the obvious answer would be to have won a national title; especially to change the outcome of the Harvard game. But those losses helped mold me to the player I later became and the person I am now. My teammates and I learned a lot about ourselves through those defeats, and I know I am a better coach and person for those experiences. So I really don't think I'd change anything about my time at Minnesota. GH.com: If you could give any advice to the current Gopher team, what would it be?
Richards: Stay in school and get your degree. It will be the most valuable thing you can take away from Minnesota. GH.com: Do you still follow the Gophers? If so, what are your thoughts on where the program is and what will it take to keep the program on this pace?
Richards: I am so proud of what they are doing there now. Don Lucia
is doing a great job, and it's so much fun to follow. I hope they keep adding to the hardware.Talk about Minnesota Gopher sports in the GopherHole Message Board Community.