We all know the story. Jacques and "He Who Shall Not be Named" out as coach and GM respectively after last season, Richards and Fletcher in as coach and GM respectively this season. A transition year, a promise of a more up-tempo style of play that would replace the dull and boring days of the trap that Minnesota Wild fans were used to seeing since the Wild first took the ice back in 2000. Wild fans didn't know what to expect with their team at the start of the 2009-10 season. How will the so called "transition year" effect this team? How long before this team is a legit playoff contender? Can Chuck Fletcher undo what "He Who Shall Not be Named" did to a franchise that should be a playoff contender year in and year out? Let's find out.
Under new coach Todd Richards, things have been rocky in his first year as coach of the Wild. Is he deserving of being head coach? Of course he is. Learning a new style of play after years under the trap would take time for Wild players, but exactly how long was the question. A slow start to the season made it seem like it would be a long one. Then came flashes of brilliance around December and into January as wins were coming more often than back in October and November. Wild fans know what that can be attributed to: GM Chuck Fletcher not being afraid to shake things up (unlike He Who Shall Not be Named, who did relatively nothing at all to make this team better). Trading for Chuck Kobasew, Guillaume Latendresse and Cam Barker have paid dividends-- HUGE dividends. There is no way the Wild are where they are now (even if the playoffs are unlikely this year) if these trades never happen, something that Wild fans don't want to think about. As a result of these trades, Chuck Fletcher is already a better GM than "He Who Shall Not be Named" ever was during his entire tenure with the Wild. It took less than a year for that to happen.
Exactly how long will it take for this team to be a legit playoff contender? I want to know the answer to that question as well. I'm a loyal fan of this team and have been since day 1. I know that it will take time for this team to be a legit playoff contender and I'm patient as can be, but it's frustrating seeing this team the way it is at the moment. Revenue is there. Fan support has been there since day 1. On ice talent not as good as it could be. Same thing goes for our prospect pool. Todd Richards isn't to blame for this. Neither is Chuck Fletcher. Wild fans collectively direct all of their blame towards one person: He Who Shall Not be Named, aka the devil.
Reasons for blaming He Who Shall Not be Named (aka the devil): lackluster drafts, lack of signing free agents and TERRIBLE trades. By TERRIBLE trades, one comes to mind, one that Wild fans wish they could forget forever: trading for Chris Simon. Worst. Trade. EVER. A weak prospect pool results from trading picks away and letting current big name stars go to other teams after passing on them. A few come to mind: Mike Cammalleri, Patrick Sharp, and Alexander Semin... 6 picks after Pierre-Marc Bouchard. All Semin is doing at the moment is playing on the best team in the NHL and is their 3rd leading scorer behind some guys named Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. No big deal.
Now back to the debacle that was tonight's game against the San Jose Sharks. The Wild playing like it was October again. Outplayed quite handily by the Sharks, struggling in their own zone, minimal offensive pressure on Nabokov. Story of the year for this team. Play well at times, struggle at times to the point where it makes you want to gauge out your eyes at the sight of watching them play. Fletcher is doing the best he can to turn things around and it will take time. Loyal fans will be patient, the ones that call themselves fans just to appear like they know everything that is going on with the team will not be patient because that's how they are, every single one of them. To those loyal die-hard fans, I feel your pain. It will be rough, but we must stay strong. Believe in Chuck (that should be put on to t-shirts and sold). He knows what he's doing and he'll turn this around for sure. Not his fault that the cloud of
darkness evil doom still lingers over this team from Jacques and He Who Shall Not be Named. It's not our fault as fans to see this team the way it currently is. Do Wild fans really deserve this? NO! We deserve a playoff caliber team year in and year out. We deserve better prospects and better players on our team. If we all wanted to watch a team going through a difficult transition phase, we'd all watch the Timberwolves... try saying that with a straight face, I dare you. Like every other Wild fan, I myself blame He Who Shall Not be Named for where the Wild are at this moment in time. He screwed every Wild fan over with his moronic idiotic utterly retarded trades, poor drafting and lack of free agent signings to improve the team. Good riddance to him (that's putting it as nicely as possible too) and hopefully the cloud of darkness evil doom that still lingers over the Wild leaves the State of Hockey sooner rather than later and with it comes playoff hockey.