Before we get started, we just want you to know this: We love you, and we think you're doing a great job. Before you took over as General Manager and Head Coach, respectively, things were really looking down for us. We absolutely appreciate how you made our fanbase relevant and our favorite team respectable. This isn't about that at all.
Again, we're here because we love you. And sometimes, love means doing what you think is right for another person, even if it's hard. So when we heard you two were hanging around Paul Bissonnette (a.k.a., "BizNasty"), well, we had to take action.
This is an intervention. You have a problem. Your addiction to enforcers is obvious, destructive, and needs to be stopped.
We understand your intentions are good. It is certainly better to have toughness on your team than not, there's no doubt about that. The feeling that your team can handle being physically challenged with aplomb can be an awesome, powerful feeling.
But there's the right way to do that. Wholesome, good ways. Working through checks to make the play. Keeping your composure when the other team tries to get under your skin. Making smart, timely, disciplined hits that will gain possession for your team without going to the penalty box.
Listen to the people that love you: An enforcer isn't a real solution. Sure, when you first get one on your team and he stands up for his teammates, it energizes the team and the crowd. But that high doesn't last, it never does. At the end of the day, you're dealing with a roster player that offers an ability to fight other teams' enforcers, but can't really do anything else particularly well.
Your addiction has affected us in the following ways: You've forced us to endure the Brad Staubitz era. He had 24 fights in his time with the Wild, and produced only 9 points and was the worst on the team at possessing the puck. This was no easy feat, these were the Cam Barker / Greg Zanon / Eric Nystrom days. Throw in some absolutely horrible penalties, and it was obvious to everyone around you that Staubitz was holding you back.
And then you traded for Mike Rupp. In fairness, Rupp was actually better able to contribute to the team when you first got him, sometimes dominating shifts. However, over this past season, he was very much a liability, only playing 5 games in 2014, with his only impact being concussing TJ Oshie.
But why did you trade for Rupp? Because even after you signed face-off/punching specialist Zenon Konopka, you felt you still needed toughness. Or, more likely, a tough guy who could play. Because Konopka was not that. He did fight 16 times during his tenure, but not only didn't provide any #deterrence. Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, and Niklas Backstrom are a few players that were injured to dirty hits with Konopka in the lineup. Konopka's fights also did little to send messages, the most embarrassing game of your tenure started with one.
But after this season, it looked like you went to Tough Guy Rehab. Konopka and Rupp went out of the picture. You wisely let Cody McCormick and Clayton Stoner get paid elsewhere, and you looked primed to start the 14-15 season without an un-needed enforcer.
And then we hear you're in on obtaining the services of "BizNasty". Why? You've made so much progress!
Of course you think it'll be different this time. It won't. Yes, his possession numbers look good, he's not the complete dead weight Staubitz, Konopka, and McCormick were.
But while it's safe to say Bissonnette is more skilled than your standard pugilist, his point totals and fancy stats aren't what they appear to be. Dave Tippett has done a great job at minimizing Bissonnette's deficiencies. The catch is that he's done that by severely limiting his minutes, and playing only against soft competition. Among players who have played 21+ games, he's been in the Top-10 for lowest Quality of Competition each of the last four years. Not even once in the last four seasons has he played even 10 minutes in a game.
There's a better way than this, Chuck and Mike. You have a deep forward corps, with talented guys like Jordan Schroeder and Michael Keränen being long-shots to make the roster. You're in a position where last season's third-line of Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine could easily be your fourth line. You will be able to put together four lines that you can consistently roll throughout the season. Why would you want to derail this for a guy whose coach can't even trust him to play 10 minutes in any game?
And if you think that you are still lacking a physical presence, there are players that can provide that in-house, without limiting your flexibility one iota. Immediately, Brett Bulmer and Kurtis Gabriel come to mind as players that can be physical, fight when needed, and actually play. You've given Gabriel in particular lots of praise, so why not trust him to fill that role?
You've shown us that you're savvy hockey people, capable of making smart trades (like stealing Nino Niederreiter), and going against conventional hockey wisdom to your benefit (like picking up the undervalued Jared Spurgeon). We trust that you're strong enough to beat this enforcer addiction.
Please don't disappoint us. Stay away from "BizNasty", and similarly over-valued, over-priced enforcers.