The Wild is inches from the salary cap ceiling.
And they're right back in a familiar place in the Western Conference: much closer to the bottom than contention.
Owner Craig Leipold is shelling out $58-and-change million (according to capgeek.com) of his, well of ticket buyers' money.
$58M for a team that takes entire periods, if not games, off. $58M for a team without a legit first line scoring threat. Spending to the cap for a team with far more passengers than drivers. For a team whose head coach has no answers - by his own admission.
That, my friends, is a shitty return on investment.
Yeah, it's easier to pick on them after a couple losses than it is to sit here and write about how great they are after a couple wins. But that's not cherry picking/entertaining glass-half-empty tendencies. And you don't come here to read sunshine getting blown up the Wild's skirt. Because this team hasn't "earned" more than one or two of its wins 10 wins this season. Sneaking out an OT win in a game in which you get completely owned is not earning a win. It's stealing. It's hard to be proud of a team that steals.
It's time to start seriously looking at whether or not Todd Richards is the right coach for this team. This is not the same situation the Vikings are in. The Wild was not a contender coming into this season as the Vikes were. Richards did not have the same expectations on him that Chilly did.
The Wild's tale of woe is based on a lack of growth. This is still a team trying to deal with the crippling mismanagement of Risebrough. So, this isn't some wistful, infantile demand for the Wild to be a competitor this year. I just wanted to see growth. Improvement.
That didn't happen at all last year - some would say the Wild took a few steps backward - with the end result being stasis - finishing just out of reach of the lottery, but with no real shot at the playoffs at any point during the season. But, first year for Richards, lots of injuries, I'll give it to him.
This year, lots of talk about improvement, lessons learned as a head coach, and still no material increase in expectations. That would seem to be a perfect environment to over-deliver, for Richards. Granted, more injuries (why the PMB career death watch isn't at full vigil status yet among Wild fans speaks to a remarkable willingness to deceive ourselves), but no appreciable improvement in any of the areas we were told were being worked on (read: offense), and, recently, a significant step back in defense. So, non-existent offense, bad defense...you do the math.
Plus, anytime I hear a coach say he doesn't have answers for his team's play, I take that as a bad sign.
You don't replace Richards with the hope of jolting the team into playing like the contender you think they really are. That's not going to happen with the Wild - this year at least. You replace Richards because the team is going no where under him. If you aren't expecting a Cup run, then you better be getting teaching and building blocks and gritty performances and effort. And, if you're not getting those things, then you're not getting enough.
I'm glad Richards got a couple Thanksgivings at "home" out of the deal. I'm hopeful he won't get another Christmas at home - at least not while he's on the Wild's payroll.