Actually Chuck Fletcher’s first task as new Wild GM turned out to be the 2009 Entry Draft, but during this time he was also inundated with questions about Marian Gaborik. People seemed to think that with Reisbrough gone and the possibility of a more offensive style, Gabby would be more interested in re-signing with the Wild. Fletcher answered each time that he would be in touch with Gaborik, that he is a very talented player that anyone would want on their team. But it never felt like there was anymore possibility now than there was last season during #10’s long injury break.
At the same time Fletcher was also looking for his coach. This search turned out to be very similar to the GM process…there were a few big names interested in the job (Pat Quinn again, Peter Laviolette), others from within the Wild organization (Mike Ramsay, Kevin Constantine), and a few others, including a current assistant in San Jose with ties to Minnesota and to Chuck Fletcher (Todd Richards). I was interested in Laviolette. He won the Stanley Cup with Carolina a few years ago and has an offensive mind. Seemed to be a good fit. Again, there was media speculation that it would likely be Todd Richards, and that is ultimately who Fletcher hired.
Richards shares Fletcher’s vision of “up tempo” hockey, giving the talented D-men the green light to join the rush regularly. He comes in with a player’s coach reputation, so we will see how it translates to on-the-ice performance. The Minnesota Boy Comes Home bit is a nice story, so you want to root for the guy. It will likely take a couple years, but I have hopes for entertaining hockey. The big question…do the Wild have the players to win with the new style? It seems our old coach new New Jersey Devils coach Jacques Lemaire does not think so.
The Wild also have a new assistant coach in Dave Barr, who joins Mike Ramsey behind the bench. Mario Tremblay will not be back with the team as he and the new regime “mutually” decided to part ways. Assistant GM Tom Lynn also was let go. This is truly a new beginning for Wild hockey.
Coming next: Step 3 – Replace the Checked-Out Prima Dona