Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dawn Breaks Across Wild Land

With the hiring of Chuck Fletcher to be the second GM in team history, Wild owner Craig Leipold has served notice: The King is dead; long live the King!

How else can you interpret comments such as these from Russo's Rants:

"This is the guy right now for this team to develop our players. His system and the way that he’s talking is exactly what I think we need at this time. I’m incredibly excited. I think he’s going to be able to take this team to another level that maybe we didn’t think we could get to."


"In the past I’ve been frustrated not knowing why those unrestricted free agents wouldn’t choose this as their home. We have everything to offer here. I think the system might have been something that held them back. I believe Chuck feels that way. Other [candidates] that came through felt that way so I think this is like the missing piece."

The boss took a year to survey his kingdom, and found it wanting.  So he dumped his Viceroy, and then searched far and wide for a new Viceroy befitting the boss' own Candidian vision of the best of all possible worlds.

That he seems to have found and successfully wooed the right man for the job appears to be the common wisdom.


But before Wild fans get giddy with anticipation of Gretzky's Oilers or Croskin's Penguins flying up and down the ice at the Excel Energy Center next season, they may want to consider the question of on-ice personnel, the question of off-ice personnel having been answered to their liking.

Simply, Fletch's job ain't done.  Far from it, in fact.  While he (wisely) talks about not just playing a run-and-gun style and acknowledges what seems obvious to most hockey people: that everyone plays some kind of trap, if only when leading late in a game, nowadays, the bottom line is that he has not inherited a roster capable of opening it up without suffering more losses than they did under the outgoing, more-defense-oriented system.  

In other words, just because there is a new GM, and will be a new coach, it does not mean Stephane Veilleux will suddenly become a 20-goal scorer.  It will not make Marian Gaborik's hips/groins/malady de semain any less a threat, nor will it make gentle Pierre-Marc Bouchard any more likely to wander into the slot area.

Some say that Lemaire and his system held the Wild back.  I think the Wild didn't have enough offense to be coached in any other way, that is, if wins were the goal.

So I welcome Mr. Fletcher with open arms.  I am happy for the change of pace, the changes in style and the new perspective on the old roster.  I am hopeful that he can implement his style and leave his imprint on the team in short order.  But just getting hired isn't enough.  Now it's time to roll up his sleeves and get to work.



Ms. Conduct said...

Here here!

BReynolds said...

Well stated sir, well stated.

Side note if I may... no "E" on the Xcel Energy Center. ;-)

Nick in New York said...

damn...rookie mistake, and I totally know better...I think I've even corrected other people about that same thing! Good catch Buddha.