UTICA, N.Y. - Richard Bachman entered the summer looking for a new deal to continue his playing career, he'll close it out with an entirely different challenge.
On Friday, the Iowa Wild announced they had hired the 33-year-old netminder as their new full-time goaltending coach, marking the end of an 11-year professional hockey career and the beginning of a new one in coaching.
"[Retiring from playing] was something I've been thinking about for a couple of years now especially when I had my bad injury on my [Achilles] tendon," said Bachman. "It really got me thinking that I'm getting a little older now and I need to start looking at what I want to do after."
As Bachman remained in touch with his agent, he found the well was relatively dry for playing opportunities. Through contacts he made in the hockey world, he caught wind that teams in the AHL were looking to fill full-time goalie coach positions, something that hasn't been as prominent in the past.
When the opportunity presented itself with the Wild, Bachman jumped at the chance, ready to tackle a new endeavor while remaining in the sport he loves.
"Throughout the summer time I've done some private coaching and hockey camps in Colorado so I knew the coaching side of things was something that I liked and was very interested in," he said. "In talking with my family, it was kind of the perfect time to transition out of playing and into that role so we're extremely excited about it now."
Bachman may not be taking his place between the pipes next season, but he views this move as a chance to continue, not end, his hockey career.
"I'm only 33-years-old so I don't like to call it retiring," he said. "It's never easy to make that decision, but for me, I'm fortunate that I was able to stay within hockey and that definitely made it easier."
It will be a different role for sure, but it won't be entirely foreign. Bachman said the immediate transition will help him to hit the ground running. Understanding the mental aspect of being a professional hockey player is still fresh in his mind, which he said will allow him to connect better with the younger players.
In fact, the last few seasons, the veteran has helped to mentor younger goalies on the Comets roster and within the Vancouver Canucks organization. He's helped to shape and develop the game of young netminders such as Thatcher Demko, Michael DiPietro and Ivan Kulbakov.
According to Bachman, taking those players under his wing in that type of mentorship role has helped prepare him well for the new one in coaching.
"That was instrumental," he said. "I think by doing that, that's what helped me ultimately decide that coaching and staying in hockey is something I'd enjoy. Obviously I love playing, but getting to work with those guys in Utica and know the situation, where I was in my career, instead of looking at it as a negative, I kind of embraced it and really tried to help those guys. In doing that, it's helped me to communicate with the younger players and know a little more about what they're going through. I think that really is what really solidified me wanting to go into this profession."
Bachman played 264 games in the AHL during his career, while appearing in 49 in the NHL. He wore no uniform in his professional career more than a Utica Comets one, where he logged 105 games over parts of five seasons. His number of appearances and 49 wins with the Comets are both second all-time in the soon-to-be eight-year franchise history.
As the Salt Lake City native says goodbye to his playing days, he bids Utica farewell too, at least for now.
However, while he leaves, Utica will never leave him.
"It's always going to be a home to me," Bachman said. "My kids grew up there. The on-ice stuff is great and all, but it's the stuff away from the rink. It's walking in and talking to everyone that works at the Aud. It's seeing (Adirondack Bank Center Senior VP of Facility Operations and GM of Operations) Rick (Redmond) down below. It's the people bringing candy and little toys for my kids and them running wild around the Aud like they own the place even though there's 3,000 other people walking around. It's the friends I've made with New Hartford Youth Hockey. It's everything about that city and the people in it, those are the things I am going to remember.
"It was such a big part of my family's life and us growing as a family. So Utica is always going to be a second home. I couldn't imagine my kids growing up anywhere else. There are so many amazing memories that I made just living in Utica that I'll always cherish."