Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
...Fletcher has sent a message to players and fans that he embraces the repairman function of his job.
Sure, every GM is trying to draft and plan for future success, but this is the salary cap era and there is no patience for five-year rebuilding plans. And there shouldn’t be, not when two-thirds of NHL teams are spending roughly the same amount of money for their rosters. You have to change up your roster on the fly. The mandate in the salary cap era is to rebuild and repair at the same time.
That’s why I like that Fletcher is showing aggressiveness in Minnesota. He succeeded Doug Risebrough, a true gentleman, highly respected around the league, but conservative in his approach to managing a team.
When Risebrough was in charge, it seemed as if the franchise never was able to escape the expansion team mentality. The Wild always seemed to be looking to be competitive up the road, instead of today.
from Rachel Blount of the Star Tribune,
For every player who aspires to be part of a hometown team, there is another who has found that familiarity can breed surprising unhappiness. So it went with Guillaume Latendresse, who spent the final weeks of his tenure in Montreal preparing for an inevitable trade.
The lofty expectations that fall upon young French Canadian players in that city had pushed his career into a corner. Though he was completely unfamiliar with Minnesota, he viewed his Nov. 23 trade to the Wild as a chance to be appreciated for who he was, not who others wanted him to be. Relieved of both the pressure and the preconceptions, Latendresse didn’t remain a stranger for long….
“The biggest problem in Montreal was that I was born there,’’ Latendresse said. “Everyone expects more when you were born there.
“It’s really hard for a Quebec-born player to play there, because they’re looking for a French star—and sometimes, that’s not quite your role. You can bring something, but they always want more. A franchise like this, with great fans who are just here to see hockey and love hockey, that’s great for me.’‘
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Examine Saturday’s victory at Colorado, and it might be impossible to come up with another game in which the Wild has spent more time in the opponent’s zone. The Wild probably spent three-quarters of the game forechecking the rubber off the puck.
Now, it’s safe to say the Wild is starting to get it. There’s a reason why the team has earned points in 10 of the past 13 games (7-3-3) and in each of the past four (3-0-1).
As coach Todd Richards loves to say, the Wild’s level of “compete” these days is off the charts. It has a lot to do with General Manager Chuck Fletcher’s ability to add motivated newcomers, such as Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Guillaume Latendresse.
But it also has to do with a bunch of veterans setting the tone.
In the end, I think the Wild made the safer investment here. Size doesn’t grow on trees. I think Latendresse will become a solid, second-line, power-winger type for years to come. The Canadiens got the guy that can still possibly become a first-line offensive threat, but they also took on more risk if he’s unable to figure out what it takes to apply his talent at this level.
-Pierre LeBrun of ESPN on the Benoit Pouliot - Guillaume Latendresse trade. More from Pierre on the trade…
via Michael Russo’s Twitter,
According to sources, the Wild is close to making a trade in the coming hours. Don’t know any more than that as of now
added 4:38pm, Erin Nicks in her Twitter reports RDS says Benoit Pouliot for Guillaume Latendresse of the Canadiens.
added 4:45pm, Canadiens have also recalled Sergei Kostitsyn.
added 4:48pm, Bob McKenzie confirms the trade via his Twitter.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Nobody tries to lose. Nobody wants to lose. Especially players.
But this potentially painful Wild season might not be the worst thing for the long-term future of the franchise.
The Wild is depleted of top-end, young talent like few other teams. Just turn on the “Center Ice” package or study other teams’ depth charts, and it’s plain as day.
The Wild has no game-breaking forwards coming up, and developing these players might be the Wild’s only option. The next five months living through all the losses would be excruciating, but a top-five pick in the 2010 draft would be a nice “reward” for such a lousy year.
Look at the Colorado Avalanche. One horrific season got the Avs potential superstar Matt Duchene with the third overall pick.
via Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants,
Wild players all were talking about the hit this morning and how the league “better suspend” Ott. We will see. Unlike Derek Boogaard’s elbow last year on Brandon Prust, there wasn’t an outcry on this one in Canada…
Well, Ott took a leaping elbow into the head on Sykora in my opinion. The league allegedly wants to rid head shots, well, then throw the book at Ott, too. Or maybe Stephane Robidas for his textbook boarding on Mikko Koivu last night that was somehow missed.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
When things are going south, positive imagery is often a big help.
When Marian Gaborik would slump, he’d watch Gaborik highlights to get his mojo back.
In an attempt to revive the real Martin Havlat, the Wild winger sat alone in front of a television watching some of his goals from last season’s career year in Chicago.
Even though he didn’t score during Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Dallas, Havlat was a much more confident, motivated player. He skated well, shot the puck and schooled defenders.
“It’s not the start I wanted, or we wanted as a team. We win together and lose together,” said Havlat, who has one goal and six assists in 14 games. “But individually, this is probably the worst start I ever had, so it can only get better. I just have to keep working and sooner or later it’ll start coming.”
from Bruce Brothers of the Pioneer Press,
Craig Leipold admits he often isn’t thrilled with what he sees when he watches the Wild from the owner’s box at the Xcel Energy Center.
Leipold’s team has won just five of 15 games this season and, as it did during the first period of a 5-2 home loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night, there are times when it seems no one is in sync.
“I’m thinking just like every other fan was,” Leipold said Friday, shaking his head.
But Leipold, who purchased the Wild in January 2008, said that with new general manager Chuck Fletcher and new coach Todd Richards running the show, things “don’t change overnight.”
When Leipold hired Fletcher last summer, he said he expected the Wild to become a contender for a playoff spot. With the team instead contending for the basement of the NHL in points, you wonder if he’s becoming impatient.
from Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune,
If they need help finding “celebrities” to fire up the “Team of 18,000,” I am here to help.
Next game, they should bring back Doug Risebrough. That way Risebrough could get the fans riled, and then the Wild would get to fire him all over again.
Thursday night at the X, it was hard to tell if there were more empty seats or empty Wild jerseys, as the Fighting Christmas Trees played pathetically while losing 5-2 to the beat-up Canucks.
There are four prime figures you could blame for the Wild’s lousy play so far: Risebrough, new GM Chuck Fletcher, old coach Jacques Lemaire or new coach Todd Richards.
Richards is the easiest to pick on because his players have looked so confused and tentative, but every rookie coach should get a little time to learn on the job.
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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