The offseason means the end of Wild games, but for the players, the work is never done. With Exit Interviews, Hockey Wilderness takes each player and reviews their season, highlighting what we liked seeing from them over the year, and pointing out what can be improved to take the next step next year. We start with Charlie Coyle. Huge sticktap to Dan Shrader and Nathan Wells for the idea.
Mikko, what can we say. You're the backbone of the team, and you epitomize our character. Maybe not the most skilled person in the world, but a hard worker, defensively sound, and there's no quit in you. We love you, Mikko, and we mean it. If you hadn't re-signed with the team long-term all those years back, there's no way Parise or Suter would have come here, we would be without the Mayor, and we definitely wouldn't have Vanek (but, hey, we won't hold that against you [Fletch and Yeo fist bump, explode it, and Bruno shouts "ZING"]).
We know you get a lot of crap, we know it's hard having people call for us to #RipTheC, despite that having no bearing on any of the struggles we've had at all. We know you get people yelling at you to shoot on the Power Play, despite the fact that you shoot more than Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Ryan Getzlaf with the man advantage. We really appreciate that the Wild score more than they get scored on when you're on the ice; that's not the case with everyone on our team, we know.
Expectations for Next Year:
You do you, Mikko. We know you're past your prime and in decline, but we also know your style of play means we should be able to rely on you for a while longer. Keep controlling play, keep driving possession, and keep instilling that work ethic and fiery passion in the younger guys. You've been through a lot with this team, and we're finally at a place as an organization that you should be starting to enjoy this.
1. Take some time and teach the younger guys about faceoffs. We know that they are one of the most overrated parts of the game, but it'd be nice to win an offensive zone draw with the man advantage... or ever. On the PK, we'd love to see the zone get cleared right away, to prevent those right-off-the-draw one-timers that seem to get us every year.Whatever you have done that's made you reliable in the spot, start passing that on to Coyle and Granny; they need the help.
2. While you're at it, teach the other guys to elevate their shots like you do that forehand-backhand thing you do. The one that you pull out every single shootout, and it works all the time somehow still? Teach that to the others; especially the part where the puck leaves the ice. We're kind of tired of seeing shots hit pads down low and get buried. If we could get an extra four or five goals just by making the puck take flight, that'd be great.
3. Keep spreading that work ethic. As we get younger guys in here, we're going to need them to work really hard, and you can help with that. Don't let anyone slack off, and keep pushing everyone to be their best. This team should be great next year, and you're part of the engine that makes that happen. Have a great summer, good luck on the links, and see you in August.