by Wild Road Tripper
On a day where the Minnesota sports landscape was significantly altered, Chuck Fletcher officially assumed the position of General Manager of the Minnesota Wild with a late-afternoon press conference at Xcel Energy Center.
The 41-year-old ex-Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM flew into the Twin Cities Friday morning and immediately set to work, naming former assistant GM Tom Lynn Fletcher's right-hand man, a title he held under the previous administration of Doug Risebrough.
What to think about the new regime? Let's talk a bit...
1. It should be clear who is in charge here, and that man is Fletcher. He will negotiate the contracts, a position that Lynn held in the Risebrough regime. As the chief contract negotiator for three different teams (Florida, Anaheim, Pittsburgh) Fletcher will have his hands full almost immediately.
2. A change in style, to a somewhat more 'open' offense. Fletcher even said during the presser that 'the will of our team will be forced' onto opponents.
3. I may be somewhat guilty of looking thru the rose-colored glasses at this point; but when the owner, employees and assembled players (including Niklas Backstrom and Brent Burns) all applaud when the question and answer session starts and ends, both, you know you have done well.
Now, the job is to convince offensively-minded players (yes, including the one getting ready to leave Minnesota on July 1 -- Marian Gaborik) to come and play in Minnesota. That will be up to Fletcher and his new head coach, a process that will begin early next week, after other stakeholders (players, Hockey Ops staff, other trusted individuals) have been contacted for their thoughts.
The top two contenders are the ex-Carolina coach, Peter Laviolette, and current San Jose assistant (and, for you rodent lovers, ex-Minnesota Gopher) Todd Richards, whom Fletcher had as head coach of the Pens' Wilkes Barre-Scranton AHL affiliate.
The immediacy of the coach search was enjoined late Friday afternoon after the Calgary Flames dismissed 'Iron Mike' Keenan after two seasons as the Flames' bench boss.