Wild Fans Speak: 2018-19 Off Season Edition Part 1 of 3

Wild Fans Speak: 2018-19 Off Season Edition Part 1 of 3

NHL

Wild Fans Speak: 2018-19 Off Season Edition Part 1 of 3

By

Thomas Jefferson once said, if you are angry count to ten before you speak if very angry count to a 100.  He obviously understood that a person in the heat of anger could say some pretty hurtful things and decided to provide a possible solution to those who wear their tempers on their sleeve.  So after having had a chance to step back and let my frustrations calm down I decided it might be a good idea to discuss the 2018-19 season and let them share their thoughts on this off season.

I put together a panel of 7 Wild fans most of whom that I know that are not shy about sharing their opinions on Twitter and in other places.  So here is a quick introduction of the panel.

Dave @daveyj6568 – I am a long time hockey player, hockey coach, and am also a hockey dad. I am not an Xs and Os coach, nor do I analyze them when I watch.  I watch and coach hockey like a scout – and focus on performances of individuals much more than I do the whole.  This is why I enjoy the General Managing aspect of the hockey teams almost as much as I enjoy the game itself.

Jay @JBushy19 – I’ve been a Wild fan from the start and have become a diehard college hockey fan since the breakup of the old WCHA. I come from a hockey family here in East Grand Forks.  I’ve played hockey for most of my life and still play Old-timers now.  I really enjoy playing and watching the game.

Kenney @Nostrakennius – Hey everybody, I’m Kenney, or NostraKennius on Twitter.  I was one of the pundits, talking heads, co-hosts on 3 In The Box.  Up until this year, and maybe still holds true, the longest running, independent, Minnesota Wild podcast.  I grew up and still live in Minnesota and have been a hockey fan for as long as I can remember.

Tom @THoen88 – 48 years old – 18-year season ticket holder who is passionate about the organization to a fault.  I never kept my season tickets because of the “perks” or giveaways or any of the other fluff.  I simply wanted to watch pro hockey and maybe have a front row seat for a parade through downtown St. Paul in late June.  I’m not a rose-colored glasses fan and don’t appreciate the condescending attitude of some of the media in town who seem incapable of calling out certain players and focusing mainly on the younger ones as being the issue.

Chris (@MNFrostyboy) – I’m a Wild fan who sometimes struggles to be a Wild fan, though I haven’t yet fallen off the bandwagon.  Also a rabid Flames and Bruins fan.  Don’t @ me bro.  New Zealand expat who didn’t grow up anywhere you could walk on water, hence the practice of skating is absolutely lost on me.  But I’ve been watching hockey as long as I can remember, and I can Google stuff that I don’t know.  Also I’m rocking a sweet goatee & ‘stache combo these days.

Jodi @Jodi_Halvy – I am an 11-year season ticket holder and a passionate Wild fan!  Also in the minority when it comes to a rebuild, I do not want a rebuild.

Brian – I am a long time Minnesota hockey fan whether it be professional, college, or high school.  I played way back when we flooded our own rinks and coached some youth hockey.  I love the physically and speed of the game.  Just like many Minnesota fans I would love to see a championship season and I like many Minnesota fans I am tired of the excuses. (full disclosure, he’s also my dad)

1. What do you think was the main culprit (just one thing) that caused Minnesota’s season to go off the rails? Or was it just a matter of time the team’s deficiencies caught up with them?

Dave – Can I say both? I think the ONE thing that derailed this season was injuries, but all that truly did was expose the Wild’s lack of organizational depth…which is a huge deficiency for this franchise.  They have pissed away draft pick after draft pick and as a result, now have a very weak and shallow prospect pool.

Jay – I think Dumba’s and Koviu’s injuries were just too much to overcome.  Dumba was having a great start to the season.  The PP missed his cannon of a shot.  Koviu was missed in the face off dot and they lost their best shutdown center.  Staal was lost without Koviu because he saw the other teams best defensive forwards.  I do think the Wild lacked speed, Zucker only speed guy until the trades.  The lack of speed hurt the Wild especially in OT games and just in general because the game is now built on speed.  Speed kills and the Wild didn’t have that.  They got some back in the trades but need more going forward.

Kenney – Lack of scoring, which could be team deficiency.  Between the 1 goal games and 11 times being shutout, if you can’t put the biscuit in the basket, you’re not getting the cup to drink out of.  A factor of that could be a few very substantial injuries.  Dumba and in a, not as direct way, Koivu. Dumba was well on his way to a 20-30 goal season.  Him scoring and defensive play could have turned some of those Ls into Ws, had he been on the ice.  Koivu, although not the goal scorer, was out there taking faceoffs against top centers.  Him being out, now put Staal in that position and in effect, putting him up against a stronger line making it tougher to score.

Tom – Not making moves during the summer prior to the season.  Coming off a 42-goal season with one year left on his deal, how can you justify hanging onto Eric Staal?  Especially after the team went weakly in the playoffs for a 3rd straight year and anyone with a modicum of hockey understanding knew the roster needed a shakeup.  Considering those moves were severely limited with NMCs, moving Staal should have been an automatic during at the draft or during the summer.

Chris – Everyone’s going to say Dumba’s injury is what derailed the team. But, in my eyes it’s a combo-pack.  First comes the team’s lack of apparent desire to get in there and really work for the wins.  When they get near the top of the table (and this has happened before) they just seem to sit back and think “we’re here now, we’re good”.  They lose the fire that got them there. And then, when the GM goes to look at what can be done to shake things up in the trade market, the second factor comes in to play – lack of funds.  I believe that if Parise and Suter were dedicated enough to the team, and had the burning need to get their names on the Cup then they would suck it up and restructure those God-awful contracts for the betterment of the team.  Instead they sit there as overpaid, underworking albatrosses around the club’s neck.  And we don’t have the $$$ available to go land one of the big name FA’s.

Jodi – I think the biggest factor was losing Matt Dumba and Mikko Koivu. Losing Dumba left us with 3 “top” tier defenseman, and I believe you have to have a strong 4 to be successful.  The power play was completely inept without Dumba.  I also think he brings a unique energy to the locker room that really helps the young guys on this team.  Cue Koivu haters here, but losing a shutdown center like him, really hurt this team.  Ek did an admirable job, but we weren’t the same defensively without Koivu.  The loss of Mikko also took a toll on what Eric Staal was able to do as well.  I don’t think average fans often take in to account the trickle down effect injuries have on a line up.

Brian – I think it is tough to pick just one item that caused the Wild’s implosion this year as there were several factors that came into play.  If you were to pick one the loss of defenseman Matt Dumba would probably be it. His early season scoring was greatly missed.  Add this to the overall scoring woes of some of our other players like Neiderreiter, Coyle , Zucker, and Staal and it is difficult to win consistently.

2. With his first full season as GM behind him, what grade would you give Paul Fenton?  Have you gained or lost confidence in his ability to turn this franchise into a Stanley Cup contender?  Do you think the Wild should fire Bruce Boudreau?  Could another coach get more out of this group of players or doesn’t it matter?

Dave – I have little confidence left in Paul Fenton’s ability to mold the Wild into legitimate Cup contenders.  There is no excuse for drafting Filip Johansson at #24 when no other team in hockey would have drafted him before the middle of the 2nd round.  How it didn’t occur to him to trade down is beyond me.  That is basically how Fenton introduced himself to Wild fans, and he hasn’t done much in the way of regaining our confidence. I am not going to comment too much about the trades, because a trade cannot be accurately assessed for a few years, but it certainly looks as if he is going to be 1 for 4 in this department and that is certainly not going to cut it with us Wild fans.  The cherry on top was not trading Eric Staal at the deadline.  If rumors are true that the Bruins offered a 1st round pick and a player for Eric Staal, and Fenton turned it down, he should be fired immediately!

Jay – I’d give Fenton a ‘C’ because he made trades that needed to be made.  I think he did well with the Coyle/Donato trade.  I think Fiala will become the player Fenton thinks with more experience.  The Nino/Rask was not good!!  Fenton needs more experience, he tends to keep things close to the vest but I have faith in him.  We now know that Bruce will the coach for next season. I like Bruce as a coach and feel he does well during the regular season.  He hasn’t had much luck post season though.  The one thing I don’t like about him is the management of OT.  Our record is terrible and feel he needs to put out our players that have speed.  I don’t think a new coach would get any more out of this group.  It’ll be interesting to see if Phil Housley ends up part of the coaching staff with his connections to Fenton.

Kenney – I would give him a ‘C’, right now, but I firmly believe the jury is still out until we see what he does in the off season.  When Fletcher replaced Risenbrough, I felt like Chuck Fletcher took Doug Risebrough’s team and contracts and continued to try and build around that as well as keep the fan favorites.  Fenton has made some moves that fans don’t necessarily like, but I see him building his own team.  Had the Wild made playoffs with the moves he made, I might up his grade to a ‘B.’ With the cap space he has freed up (that apparently the previous GMs couldn’t figure out) I’m hopeful he can pull in a solid goal scorer / on ice leader to take these kids he’s pulling in and make the team a force to be reckoned with.  As far as Head Coach Bruce Boudreau is concerned, I think he did everything he could with what he was given.  I tweeted out during game 82, that the Wild cannot in good conscience fire Boudreau with what he was dealt this season.  I don’t think any coach could have done any better.  Between injuries, lack of scoring and and trading 3 staple players mid season, the only person that I can imagine had a pay increase, would be Boudreau’s cardiologist.

Tom – Right now, it has to be a TBD. This roster needed a shakeup in the worst way but there were only so many moves to be made considering who could and couldn’t be moved.  How many years in a row does a core of players have to get bounced quick and quiet in the first round of the playoffs before moves are made?  Apparently three is enough.  I know many Wild fans are distraught over the Nino/Rask deal, but what many don’t seem to understand is that the Wild Nino is not the same as the Hurricanes Nino.  In Carolina he is getting 18+ minutes a game, time on the PP1 unit, time in 3-on-3 OT and he is playing with the team’s top playmakers.  He was not getting that chance here in Minnesota, for whatever reason.  Don’t be shocked when he cracks 40+ goals next year in Raleigh.  I don’t think the Wild should let Bruce go.  I am not in the camp that feels he is blameless with the current situation.  Somebody is making the decision to start Suter, Parise and Staal in OT.  Somebody is making the decision to bury Donato and somebody was making the decision to limit Nino’s opportunity. That said, Bruce, at least in the regular season, has a proven track record of being able to coach.  I think the personalities in the room could be overwhelming for a younger coach, aka Yeo, but I think Bruce has the pedigree to at least command the room.  I think with a little more faith in the younger players, the results will be there.  If we use Dumba as an example, 2 years ago much of the Wild fandom wanted him gone.  Give the current younger players a year or 2 to mature and see what they can do.

Chris – There’s 26 letter’s in the alphabet right?  I’d give him a ‘Z.’  Hell, I’d even go to the Khmer alphabet and give him whatever the 74th and last letter is.  He said “I think we would’ve been in the same position, whether we would’ve made the moves that we made or not…”  So why’d you make the moves, pal? WTF kind of management is that??  I do have to cut him a bit of slack though – he’s stuck with a couple of contracts he couldn’t trade his way out of that he has to work around.  But is it cutting him a bit of slack, or giving him more rope?  Boudreau is signed for the last year of his contract – it’s make or break for him.  I believe that unless we make it deep into the playoffs he’s gone. Just making it won’t cut it any more.

Jodi – I would give him a ‘B.’  I feel like he has a clear vision of what he wants this franchise to look like, and I believe he has made decent moves to get there.  I was not in favor of paying big money and giving long term deals to Coyle, Granlund or Nino.  I do agree, it would’ve been nice to get a draft pick for Granlund in addition to Fiala, and Victor Rask is not great, but these were moves that had to be made.  We got younger, grittier and hungrier, and I like our youth a lot.  Do you think the Wild should fire Bruce Boudreau?  Could another coach get more out of this group of players or doesn’t it matter?  I really, REALLY do not want Bruce Boudreau to lose his job as a result of this apathetic team.  For one thing, if Fenton/Leipold hire some up and coming young guy that the veterans are not going to listen to anyway.  I want someone to sit Suter down and say “Hey, we are cutting your minutes down, you are not going to control your own power play time, and you will not see the ice 3 on 3”.  I don’t know how you get this done, but no matter what you do anywhere else, nothing changes unless Suter is forced to change.

Brian – I think its too early to evaluate Fenton.  He came into a tough situation with a lot of long term and expensive contracts.  He has made progress on that front and I think he got fair value on most of his trades except in the Rask trade.  With the cap space he as created he might be able to add some scoring.  Add in a significant trade or two, who knows.  I wasn’t a big fan of hiring Boudreau.  The Wild was already consistent playoff team but never did much in the playoffs.  Boudreau coached teams seem to mimic that so what did you gain?  I don’t think he did much to develop the scoring abilities of some of the younger players we had in place which is what I am hoping might happen.  That being said can it hurt to give him another year to see if he get our ‘new’ group of players to the playoffs?  We already know this will be presented as ‘re-tweaking’ year rather than a run at the Cup any way.

We’d like to give an extra special thank you to all of our panelists that participated and we hope you appreciated to hear what they had to say.

That’s it for Part 1 of 3, how would you respond to these questions?  Let us know on Twitter @CreaseAndAssist or in the comment selection below!

More Sports

More NHL