Remember, Wild fans, we're fans of a team that once did nothing at the trade deadline. We're fans of a team whose big trade deadline activity was once Chris Simon.
Yet here we were today, right up there with the teams making the most noise. Oh sure there was Nashville - and wow, pressure's on, y'all - and the late Hodgson for Kassian trade. But Minnesota, yes Minnesota, was responsible for arguably the biggest surprise of the day - and a hockey trade, to boot!
I wrote this summer about how this was Fletcher's team. How he was free of Risebrough's moorings after his big trades with San Jose, jettisoning Sheppard, etc.
That was nothing.
Now, well if there was any question anymore it should be erased. You don't trade the longest-tenured player in franchise history and continue to be able to hide behind what the previous regime did. And, to his credit, Fletcher isn't hiding behind anything. No, he's placed himself square in the middle of the klieg lights, buck naked.
Moving Schultz, to me as a fan, is as symbolic as anything on-ice related.
Clutterbuck talked about how Schultz represented everything the franchise is. You know what, Cal? That's the problem.
I have absolutely nothing against Schultz. He was and, I'm sure will continue to be, a very steady, unspectacular 2nd pairing defenseman. No mistakes. But, not a lot of risk taking either. He's hockeys version of Barney Coopersmith in My Blue Heaven. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. He was quiet, unassuming, professional, a dream in the community - the perfect employee.
It's just that, well hockey's sort of a bad boy sport. The toothless grin of Bobby Clarke. The particulars of the Gordie Howe hat trick. Billy Smith and Ron Hextall fucking guys up for getting in their grill. There's not a lot of "nice", Minnesota or otherwise, in hockey.
That's not to say that Schultz was The Problem with the Wild.
It's just that, well maybe he typified the lack of a solution. He went out there almost every night and tried his hardest. And shucks and darn it if they didn't win, we'll get them next time. Like the Pleasantville basketball team, if they never won instead of won all the time.
And I happen to like the notion that, if Fletcher's teams are going to lose, well they better lose like HE wants them to. Too often one got the feeling that Risebrough was diffident and obtuse to the product his team put forth on the ice.
No so, with Fletcher.
I'm not even sure Tom Gilbert is The Answer. Or even a material part of it. I think the pressure on him to "replace" Schultz or at least to fill his shoes, in his home town, making big money, will be immense. Even if fans can rightly look to him to replace Zidlicky, instead of Schultz, I think Gilbert's got an uphill battle. Face it, sons of Minnesota haven't exactly thrived here with the Wild.
But I like that Fletcher has conviction. The status quo is dead, long live the status quo.
Well done today, Chuck.