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Who Let This Guy In?

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Over on the Trib's page, Jim Souhan has this piece of masterful hockey genius to offer us. I am going to have a conversation with the all-powerful Souhan right now. For the rest of you, feel free to tag along.

The problem here, Jim, is that you are about three months late to the party. Everything you said in your piece has been said, debated, hashed, and re-hashed. We have already beaten the horse to death, gave it mouth-to-mouth, hit it with the defibrillator, pumped all kinds of drugs into it, restarted it's heart, and beat it to death again, continuing to beat the dead horse until someone pulled us off of it Office Space style.

Thank you so much, however, for blessing the Wild fans with your presence. The Twins, Vikings, Wolves, Gophers, NASCAR, golf, volleyball, table tennis, and foosball must all have been off last night, eh?

Let's move on to the arguement you make:

With Gaborik missing most of this season, the Wild ranks near the bottom of the conference in goals scored. Gaborik leads the franchise in points and goals. The Wild is 33-3-3 when he scores two or more goals, and 24-0-2 when he scores three or more points, and 23-0-4 in the past 27 games in which he scores a goal.

While this is likely true, I would be willing to bet they mirror the win-loss-record of when ANY Wild player scores two or more, or has three or more points. And the 23-0-4 mark when he scored a goal, I am more than willing to bet very few of them were the game winner.

On a team that relies on a defensive system and sound goaltending to win games, one guy who can score goals with individual brilliance makes a big difference.

One word for you here buddy. Duh.

Wild management has demonstrated no ability to sign top free agents. Brian Rolston was a nice signing, but he was a solid two-way player, not a superstar. Let Gaborik leave, and there's no assurance he will be replaced by a similar talent.

So, Rolston didn't sign this offseason? Really? I must have missed that. And when did Doug start having issues signing free agents again? Seems he has always had such a strong reputation for that.

Oh, and you tell us that replacing a guy of Gaborik's ability is not going to be easy? Wow, Jim, top notch opinion there. How long did it take you to come up with that gem? Though, in my opinion, finding a guy to ride the pine for 30 games shouldn't be too difficult. Heck they just sent one to Houston.

Gaborik has been injury prone, but that's a matter of bad luck, not an indication of willpower.

Two St. Paul boys, Paul Molitor and Joe Mauer, were labeled injury prone early in their careers. Molitor became more durable as he matured; now he's in the Hall of Fame. Mauer became more durable as he matured; now he's the best catcher in baseball.

Ah yes, the inevitable baseball reference. This isn't baseball. Let it go. And since it is bad luck that Gaborik was hurt so often, the Wild should keep throwing money at him hoping it just magically goes away? Jim, I have some used cars over here. Want to buy one? I also have this auto repair shop over here..

The Wild, as an organization, has catered to fans brilliantly, giving them the best venue and game experience in the Twin Cities. Eventually, though, the Team of 18,000 will demand more than ambience. Eventually, the fans will demand a more entertaining product, perhaps even the occasional playoff victory.

(We don't actually know this; we're just guessing. Maybe these fans will show up forever to watch Pierre-Marc Bouchard skate figure 8s. But I wouldn't bet on it.)

OK, I'll give you half a point here. You get half a point because you actually said something intelligent, but you lose the other half because of timing. Again... dead horse, fax machine. See above.

 If the perception that the NHL's star scorers would rather not be burdened with Lemaire's system is true, then Gaborik is a better fit here than just about anybody who will become available.

Gaborik might not be enamored of Lemaire's system, but he can work with it.

Gaborik himself has made it clear he cannot and will not work with the system. So, where are you getting the idea he suddenly would love to try it again?

If the Wild's relationship with Gaborik can be rehabilitated -- and that's a big if -- now might be the perfect time to make him a big offer.

This isn't likely to happen. The Wild appears ready to say goodbye to Gaborik and his series of lower-body injuries.

Just remember next season, when the Wild are trying to win every game 2-1, that team management cut loose the best player in franchise history.

OK, lighting round.

There is no IF. It's over. He's gone.

Say good-bye? No, there is no good-bye. Just "see ya."

The Wild try to win EVERY game 2-1. Always have. As long as Doug and Lemaire are at the helm, always will. Seems to have worked for them fairly well so far, too.

(Please do not take the last statement as an endorsement of the system, Doug Risebrough, or Jacques Lemaire. My opinion is clear on all of these topics.)

Anything else you wish to add to the conversation, Jim, or are you going to go back to topics you might actually know something about, like shining shoes or baseball?

-Buddha