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

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

NHL

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

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As we go into the last part of our Wild Fans Speak: 2018-19 Off Season edition, it feels sort of like ‘last call’ at the bar.  Everyone orders one last drink or beer before they part ways.  A toast to all of you Minnesota Wild fans out there who have stuck with this club in good times and bad.  Cheers!  Of course since this is Minnesota, maybe you’ve heard about the ‘long goodbye.’  In the book How to Speak Minnesotan by Howard Mohr he discusses the long goodbye how it always takes a minimum of 30-minutes to start from goodbye to actually parting company.  I can only imagine with a few adult beverages in hand, the long goodbye is all but certain.  But we hope the conversation was very interesting and thought provoking along the way.

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.

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

Wild Fans Speak: 2018-19 Off Season Edition: Part 2 of 3

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, MN Wild podcast.  I grew up and still live in MN 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)

5. Wild Owner Craig Leipold stated even before he hired Fenton he wanted a GM that was not going to rebuild the team but only tweak it.  Do you think Leipold has strayed from his lane and painted Fenton into a difficult position? Is a rebuild necessary with this club?

Dave – I firmly believe that the way to go was to do a complete rebuild.  I know Suter’s and Parise’s contracts make it more challenging to do so, but it could be done.  I also firmly believe that Leipold has nowhere near the patience to endure a complete overhaul.  From the outside looking in, however, it does appear Fenton deserves some credit for convincing Leipold to more than just tweak the roster.  Time will tell if the deals he has made and will make will pay long-term dividends.

Jay – Leipold gave Fenton the green light to make trades even if it meant missing the playoffs and we did.  I think he pushed Fenton in to a corner last summer and thought most of the season.  With him backing off towards the end of the season, we’ve now changed to a rebuild, I feel.  Changes were needed to get younger, faster and to create more cap space.

Kenney – I think Fenton has already started a small rebuild.  By clearing out some high dollar contracts and clearing cap space.  However, he still does need to build around a few pieces with long term contracts and no movement clauses.  From what I’ve seen from Fenton this season, this might be what Minnesota sports, in general, needs.  Someone to come in and get rid of some of the fan faves that aren’t producing and get the people that will hopefully get them a championship.  We’ll see if he can do that.

Tom – The owner should sign checks, the GM should construct the team, the coach should coach the team and the players should play the games.  Owner Craig has seemingly stepped WAY over the line in terms of letting a GM do his job.  You’ll note the Predators didn’t become a Western “power” until after Craig sold the team.  He completely neutered Fenton before Fenton was able to get the GM chair warm.  I’d much rather have a hands-off owner.  Just hire good hockey people and let them do their jobs.

Chris – There was no clear definition of what “tweak” means.  Leipold should trust the GM to do what is necessary (within reason) to make the team better.  He obviously doesn’t, and those moves up to the deadline this season proved it.  If we don’t make it next season, it’s time for a studs-up rebuild.

Jodi – I am not in favor of a complete rebuild, and that is definitely selfish on my part because as a season ticket holder, I want to watch a competitive club every season.  I think in hockey a rebuild takes a much longer time than in other sports, and I would rather have a competitive team that makes the first or second round of the playoffs each year.  Rather than a terrible team for 6 years just for one shot at a cup.  I mean look at Colorado and Edmonton, bad, bad hockey teams, great, great draft picks, and where has it gotten them?  Also, I felt with the signing of Parise and Suter in 2011, the Wild had a 6 year window to win a cup.  Well, that 6 year window has passed, there is nothing we can do now but hope our young kids can take over, and carry this team, and let’s hope the veterans will let them.

Brian – I think Leipold expects Fenton to retool and will allow it.  Even without touching Leopold’s protected players Fenton is now is in a position to make significant changes.  With some luck (or really lots of luck) in the draft, two good free agent signing, and significant progress with our “new” young core who knows we might become a competitive playoff team.

6. What type of player should the Minnesota Wild prioritize to draft this summer?  What position do you think is in the greatest need of an upgrade on this team?

Dave – You have been preaching this for years, Derek…draft a damn scorer! What does the team still need…a damn scorer?!  One that shoots right would be a major bonus.  Upgrade?  They have one center who can skate faster than I can and I’m creeping up on 51-years old.  I think it’s pretty obvious they need to upgrade the center position.  A big, right-shot center who can score would be a dream come true for the Wild, but they will probably have to trade up to get one. (Zucker and our 1st for Cozens, cough cough)

Jay – I think the Wild need to have a draft the best player on the board philosophy for this draft.  Our prospect pool is depleted and we are in dire need of more skill players.  I feel Fenton did a good job of this in Nashville but felt he reached with our #1 pick last draft.  We need to also add skill players that are right shots.  There is very few in our system.

Kenney – I kind of touched on this in a few of the earlier questions, but we need goal scorers, more specifically in the forward positions.  I think the D is solid, when healthy.  Goaltending isn’t spectacular, but it isn’t horrible either.  Had there been more scoring (especially in those 1 goal games) goaltending wouldn’t look as bad as some of the numbers would make you believe.

Tom – Scoring, scoring, scoring.  The Wild will have its highest overall pick since they got Dumba in 2012.  This is NOT the time to screw up the draft. They need to crunch all available data at their disposal and grab the best pure goal scorer still on the board when their spot comes up.  Even if there may be a question about the kid’s defensive prowess, or whatever.  This roster needs goal scorers in the worst way.  Now is not the time to draft another clone of Jonas Brodin.

Chris – For the draft I’m thinking another scoring defenseman – another Dumba or Spurgeon.  If we’re stuck with Snail’s Pace Suter we need to build speed and scoring around him at the blue line.  Perhaps by locking in Belpedio we get the scoring and Soucy we get the size?  As for an upgrade… don’t hate me but I’m thinking goalie.  To quote the great Ken Dryden in “The Game”: “Because the demands on a goalie are mostly mental, it means that for a goalie the biggest enemy is himself.  Not a puck, not an opponent, not a quirk of size or style. Him.  The stress and anxiety he feels when he plays, the fear of failing, the fear of being embarrassed, the fear of being physically hurt, all the symptoms of his position, in constant ebb and flow, but never disappearing.  The successful goalie understands these neuroses, accepts them, and puts them under control.  The unsuccessful goalie is distracted by them, his mind in knots, his body quickly following.” I fear that Dubnyk is too in his own head.  When’s he’s good he can be successful, but he’s not good all the time, which is where the benchmark needs to be set.

Jodi – Please don’t sign another “skilled” Finnish or Swedish defenseman by the name of Johansson.

Brian – If Dumba comes back healthy and the rest of our top six defensemen continue to score we should be in good shape here.  This group has always been solid defensively.  Fenton has rid the team of some of the overpaid underachievers.  Our emphasis now, in both the draft and free agency should be top line scorers, scorers, scorers!!!!  I really believe that the only way this club can become a competitive play off team is a to find at least two top line scorers.  How it gets done doesn’t really matter but it needs to be done!!

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 3 of 3, how would you respond to these questions?  Let us know on Twitter @CreaseAndAssist or in the comment selection below!

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