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I wrote recently about the NHL trying to advertise using the Minnesota Wild, who are a confusing, disorganized, depressive nightmare. Perhaps it’s not as apparent because they don’t have the empty arenas that come from a disinterested fan base, or the pressure of an East Coast, or worse, a Canadian media market.
Even in Minnesota, the profound calamity of the team isn’t really the cause of much consternation. That is likely because Minnesotans have an extremely low bar for what is considered “successful.” Since the Wild’s inception in 2000, they have more playoff victories than any major men’s pro sports league in Minnesota. Combined. It’s only close because the NBA’s Timberwolves were pretty good in 2004.
So the Wild are bad and the organization was so sloppy this offseason that ownership felt the need to fire GM Paul Fenton after less than a year on the job, and after Fenton’s offseason moves were complete. It was a decision that would bewilder most organizations and frustrate most fans. Not with the Wild, and not Minnesota. Fenton’s tenure was so disastrous that Wild owner Craig Leipold was applauded and Minnesota fans were relieved.
The Wild were still stuck with the team that they let Fenton put together, and tonight, they finally won their 2nd game of the season. Even after their victory against Montreal tonight, they have the league’s worst goal differential. That burden rests almost entirely on their offense, who are providing the league’s worst goals/game average. I should note that the major moves Fenton made involved trading away forwards Nino Neiderreiter, Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle, while acquiring other, different forwards Victor Rask, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Donato, all of whom are not contributing. Also, this offseason the biggest move Minnesota made was signing Mats Zucarello, which, yikes.
So the team is bad, but they might be playing even worse than their talent level suggests. Jason Zucker gave an interview in which he said everyone in the organization needed to be better, and specifically named one person in his comments: Head coach Bruce Boudreau. Can’t do that!
Ok, so maybe you can. While the media was blown away at Zucker’s candor, and some expected that he might get a team fine or suspension. Fans, on the other hand didn’t see anything wrong with it. Zucker was locally praised by fans, and ultimately, he got off with an apology today.
So this is where the Wild stand. They have made nothing but make massive mistakes, to the point where the most embarrassing headline makers, such as firing their GM on July 30th, or one of their best players calling out the head coach to the media were viewed almost as positive things by their fan base. This is how backwards and pained the state of affairs is in the State of Hockey. Not that anyone is really concerned.