There are a great number of questions surrounding this team right now. Where is the heart? How bad do they really want it? Can they pull it out? When do Mikko Koivu and Cal Clutterbuck come back? Will it make any difference?
With so many questions to answer, and so few of them able to be answered by anyone other than the guys holding the sticks on a nightly basis, it is merely an academic exercise to attempt to answer them. There is, however, one question on my mind that has been there for awhile. It went by the wayside for a bit as the team turned it on and made their move.
Last night, as Russo sent out his nightly tweets of the comments being made by the players and the coach, one in particular caught my eye. It brought the question, that nagging question, back to the front of the line:
What are they waiting for?
Make the jump and join us in a little academic exercise of our own.
The tweet Russo sent out was innocuous enough:
Richards said the Wild had "no pushback," looking for somebody "to be a leader" and not "wait" for Koivu/Clutterbuck to return
There it is. They can't wait for Koivu and Clutterbuck to return. There is no time to wait it out. With just 14 games, yes 14 games, remaining, if the players that are currently healthy enough to play think they can just hold on until Kaptain Koivu rides in to save them, it is going to be too late.
There is no question about if they can wait. Yet they wait.
The question that has been burning in the back of my head all season, what are they waiting for, has literally been out there the entire season. Don't believe me? Look at what Todd Richards had to say on October 16th, after a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It seems like at times we're waiting for someone to do it. We're waiting for somebody else to take the bull by the horns, and you can't wait for Mikko all the time. It's not going to happen. Tonight we were waiting for something.
We are now at March 11th, almost a full five months later, and again they are waiting on Mikko. Granted, it is for a completely different reason, but they are still waiting for one guy to step on the ice and fix everything for them. Sure, one player can change a game. Heck, the right player can change quite a few games. No single player can change every game.
Waiting for Mikko on October 16th is one thing. Waiting for Mikko on March 10th is something completely different. Searching out who is the leadership at the beginning of the season is normal. New players on board, expectations of improvement, injuries immediately. These things get worked out over the course of a season.
The season is all but over. This is the time of year when the leaders step up and... lead. John Madden, Andrew Brunette, Matt Cullen, Martin Havlat, Brent Burns, Nick Schultz. These guys have done this before. They've been under the pressure. They need to step up and lead the team, even without Kaptain Koivu.
Fourteen games left. Either Mikko Koivu comes back and carries a team on his back while nursing a broken finger, or one of the guys listed above has to step up and take charge. Get angry, get proud, get something. Looking at it from the outside it seems clear.
They're still waiting, and they still don't know what for.