Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Russo of the StarTribune,
With the April 3 trade deadline four weeks away, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher is monitoring other teams while also working internally to determine whether he will try to sign any of his potential unrestricted or restricted free agents to extensions.
If unsigned, Matt Cullen, Niklas Backstrom and Pierre-Marc Bouchard can become completely free July 1 and are the type of players who playoff contenders typically pursue as “rentals” at the deadline. Cal Clutterbuck, Jared Spurgeon and Justin Falk can become restricted free agents.
Fletcher says he hasn’t talked to any of their agents about new deals.
“That’s not to say we won’t do something in the next few weeks, but right now we’re trying to get a sense of where everybody fits,” Fletcher said. “I’m curious to see how we play the next month.”
from Michael Russo of the StarTribune,
"For our team, realignment is critical," said Wild owner Craig Leipold.
Under the NHL's proposed realignment, six divisions will go down to four (two in the East with eight teams each, two in the West with seven teams each) with the Wild moving into a Midwest Division with Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.
To Leipold, this is perfect. Most teams are in the Central time zone. There's a chance to foster genuine geographical rivalries. There will be less time wasted going through customs, more opportunities to get home from road games at a decent hour.
And there's the monetary implication. With less time in the air and fewer nights in hotels, the Wild estimates it'll save $800,000 to $1 million a year in travel costs.
Last week, all 30 teams and the NHL Players' Association received the league's plan for realignment, which includes Detroit and Columbus moving to the Eastern Conference.
"My input was I'm ready to vote on it right now, and frankly I think probably most of the other owners are right now," Leipold said.
Zach Parise will never come closer to scoring a goal than this. What a stick swoop by Mark Giordano.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
- Dany Heatley’s foot speed is a concern in today’s racehorse NHL, but it’s his hands that have really deserted him. He’s a half-second slow on the trigger, which is not surprising for scorers as they get older. “Everybody talks about your feet going as you get older, but it’s your hands,” said Jari Kurri, in his last NHL days. Heatley is only 32, but it would surprise no one if the Minnesota Wild used one of their get-out-of-jail cards to buy out Heatley this summer. He’ll make $5 million next season.
- Jeff Skinner’s two concussions in the last 14 months are a concern, for sure. He’s only three years into his NHL career. The first came on the Andy Sutton smackdown at Rexall Place last season. The second was against the Toronto Maple Leafs a few days ago when he piled headfirst into the boards after a Mark Fraser hit. In both cases, he seemed fine, then the headaches and post-concussion stuff started a few days later. Skinner is an Olympic team candidate with some of the NHL’s sweetest hands. “He can score at any moment,” said Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal.
The Hockey Night in Canada panel discuss the Minnesota Wild. Some words are kind, many are not.
NEW YORK (February 19, 2013) – Minnesota Wild forward Devin Setoguchi has been fined $8,108.11, the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for high-sticking Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quince yin NHL Game No. 216 in Minnesota on Sunday, February 17, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 15:16 of the second period. Setoguchi was assessed a double-minor penalty for high-sticking.
As a first-time offender, the maximum Setoguchi could be fined was the lesser of $10,000 or one-half of his daily salary.
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Devin Setoguchi will have a 9 a.m. hearing with NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan on Tuesday after his cross-check to the face of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey last night.
Setoguchi accepted a pass in front of the Red Wings' bench and was met by Quincey. He reacted by getting his stick up.
I think it's clearly an accident, but as is often the case in these situations, a player must be responsible for his stick.
continued with video of the incident...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
GM Chuck Fletcher gave a vote of confidence for a lack of a better term today to Yeo and the coaching staff, saying, “Absolutely” when asked if he’s got to let things play out for the 4-5-1 team.
“Mike and the coaches are doing a very good job. We’re giving up almost five shots a game less than we did last year and we’re doing a good job. We’ve got a lot of pieces to juggle in a short amount of time. We’re trying to find chemistry and frankly we can’t get caught up in the angst and outside opinions and reaction. We just have to stay focused and concentrate on doing a better job and executing at a better level.
“If the effort is there, eventually things will turn.”
I asked Fletcher about all the criticisms of fans regarding Yeo’s “system,” but before I get to Fletcher’s response to that, I just want to point something out. Trust me, I watch six or seven games a night, travel to every building in this league. The Wild plays the same system as virtually every team in the league. Breakouts are similar, neutral-zone forechecks are similar, style is similar if not identical to other teams, including some of the most successful.
Fans that tweet me daily are agitated with the dump-and-chase. Hey, I hear ya. Like it or not though, this is what this league has become. I understand where this looks counterproductive. The goal is to have the puck, so why when you have the puck, do you intentionally give it away only to exude effort in an attempt to get it back?
from Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune,
Less than three weeks into the most promising season in franchise history, the Wild played without grit or intelligence in a 4-1 loss to Vancouver, a failure that could alter expectations and shorten tenures surely as it brought jeers raining down on the Xcel Energy Center ice on Thursday night.
In hockey, when you've tried everything but firing the coach and your team doesn't respond, you tend to fire the coach. Maybe owner Craig Leipold won't force that move immediately, but he has no reason to be patient after making an immense investment in front-line talent and watching his team fall apart.
Whether Mike Yeo is responsible for his team's slump is irrelevant.
When you sign two players for about $200 million, print T-shirts that read "Take the Next Step; No Excuses," call up your best prospects, alter your best line, threaten the jobs of a couple of veterans, hold a players-only meeting, trade for an enforcer, watch one of your two incoming saviors play like he's still learning to skate backwards, and then embarrass yourself at home against a prime rival, the owner owes it to his accountants and fans to consider all possible means of improvement. And he's not going to cut Ryan Suter in the first month of a 13-year deal.
Suddenly, with the on-ice product disintegrating like a cheap grocery store's paper bags, Leipold's brain trust looks vulnerable.
from Bruce Brothers of the Pioneer Press,
This is what it looks like when the wheels come off.
The Wild are juggling their lines, calling guys up from the minors, making trades and holding players-only meetings.
But after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday, Feb. 4, in front of 9,508 at Jobing.com Arena, they are 4-4-1.
And no one is happy.
Players shut the locker-room doors after the game and talked things over for 22 minutes.
Coach Mike Yeo noted a few good things his team did, but punctuated that by shaking his head.
"Still," he said, "we've got to find a way."
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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