Last night, the Wild took a bad loss. Up 4-1 almost half way through the third period, they gave up four goals and lost 5-4. You have read all about it here and other places. It was ugly, it was frustrating, and is was completely disappointing. If you aren't angry about it, you likely aren't much of a fan. So it goes with fans and their team.
Reaction to the loss has been polarizing. There are a handful of people that see it for what it is: one loss. There are others who see it as more than that, a symptom of a disease no one can quite diagnose. Finally, there are a very vocal group of people who think this game should be the end of Mike Yeo and / or Chuck Fletcher.
Yes, really. Read the comment section here on the gamer. Read the comments over on Russo's stories for the day. Check out Twitter. Some have been receptive to a calming argument, others have not. It's pervasive at this point, and I don't get it.
Make the jump, and let's see if we can't hash this out.
Fire Mike Yeo
Let's start this with a question. What does firing Mike Yeo accomplish?
From what I can see, firing Mike Yeo either puts Darryl Sydor in charge, or brings in another new coach with another new system for the players to learn. If Sydor is in charge, you have another rookie coach taking over. The only possible benefit is a shock to the players to make them pay attention. Yet, if they didn't get that from Todd Richards being fired, why does it change if it is Mike Yeo?
Yeo's system works, when the players play it. You've all seen the proof. Is it that easy to forget that the team was winning while playing the system their coach wants them to play? If so, this fan base is as fragile as the team they love. If you have NHL Center Ice, or a DVR filled with Wild games, go back and watch a game from when they were winning. Then watch last night's game, or a game from the losing streak. Notice any differences?
The argument can be made that when a team struggles, their coach has lost them. I don't see that. This team, save for those being held accountable, seem to be behind Yeo and his system. Watch the guys who are playing within the system. Any of them seem to have an issue with the coach? Think Nick Johnson wants to see Mike Yeo fired? Mikko Koivu? Dany Heately?
Ask yourself what is accomplished in the firing of a coach, mid-season, with an already fragile team on your hands. Think the Wild suddenly become Cup contenders?
Fire Chuck Fletcher
Same question: What does firing Chuck Fletcher accomplish?
How are you willing to fire a GM three years into a rebuild that hasn't been allowed to run a true rebuild? Craig Leipold wants an entertaining product while Chuck Fletcher rebuilds behind the scenes. To quote the movie Gladiator for the 1000th time in a week, "Are you not entertained?"
The type of situation Fletcher was hired to fix, and the manner he was asked to do it in, is incredibly complex and extremely difficult. HWSRN left this organization with nothing. Nothing at all. No one wants to keep blaming the past, and many will point out that Fletcher has turned over enough players that this is his team now. I disagree.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard gets hurt, who do they have to call up? Jed Ortmeyer. Nothing against Ortmeyer, but he isn't a fill in for Bouchard. The same goes for every injury at every position, save for goalie. The top goalie prospect? Drafted by Fletcher. The HWSRN regime is still hurting this team, even if no one wants to admit it.
So, if you are on the "fire everyone" campaign, you are willing to fire a guy who has stocked the Wild organization with exciting prospects for the first time in team history, and you are willing to do so a full year before he even gets a chance to sign his top draft picks? That's cold.
Looking at what Fletcher was asked to do - rebuild behind the scenes while putting a competitive product on the ice - it is difficult to argue he has not done exactly that. Trades haven't all worked out, but would the old regime have brought excitement to a fan base with big trades? With any trades at all? Would the old regime have been able to draft as well as the current administration?
As mentioned in the comment section on the gamer, this reeks of football think. Have a problem? Draft to fix it. Football allows for immediate gratification, hockey doesn't. Nothing wrong with either system, but they are two completely different concepts. It takes years to rebuild a hockey team, even when making perfect draft picks. A football team can be resurrected with just one.
Firing Chuck Fletcher would be a travesty. When his team's picks come into Minnesota, and the Wild are competing for a Cup in five years (or sooner), will it be enough to give him retroactive credit?
Minnesota sports are ripe with coaches and GMs given too many chances. That's a given. However, the Twins have nothing to do with the Vikings, who have nothing to do with the Wolves, who have nothing to do with the Wild. Your frustration as a fan of one team has no bearing on your frustration as a fan of another. The owners of the four major programs do not meet every month to plan how to make their organizations mediocre and bilk you of you hard earned money.
Once Minnesota teams started firing people, the fans became blood thirsty. Don't win in your first year? NEXT!
It's your right to want to fire the coach or the GM. When do you instead blame the guys making the big money (coaches and GMs don't make anywhere near what their players do)? When do you blame the people who deserve the blame? When, for the love of everything good and right, do you blame the players for not doing their jobs?
The system works, which means the coach fits. The organization is well stocked and getting better, which means the GM is doing his part. That only leaves one side of the triangle not holding up their end of the bargain.