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Exit Interviews: Darcy Kuemper

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. It's Darcy Kuemper's turn with the Wild brass.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Darcy, good to see you. It feels like it's been too long since we've seen you around these parts. Come on in and let's get right to it.

Needless to say, you really hamstrung us this year. We were asking you to take a large step in to the starting role for us and be THE guy. You have all the physical attributes to be a solid goaltender in this league. You have shown flashes of real brilliance in your play. We believe in you to be our goalie for the future. In fact, we ponied up to your one-way deal.

What happened?

After two straight shutouts of the Avalanche to start the season and a solid October, things went amiss in November and spiraled out of control. We had to trade a good third round pick in what is supposed to be a really good draft to save our behinds. We know we were asking a lot of you, and it may have been unfair in your position only playing 38 games in the NHL over two seasons prior to this year, but we saw you perform well in a stretch that was intense and as high pressured as any when you helped revive our season in 2014. We thought you could handle it. it wasn't what any of us expected.

Expectations for Next Year

You need to come into next year expecting to start. We don't know what is going to happen with Devan, and we need you ready. Then, if Dubnyk returns, you need to be able to be ready to spell him. We want a situation where the both of you push each other for playing time and make each other better. I want you guys to be the best of friends and each other's arch nemesis at the same time. Our team generally makes things easy on our goaltenders, but we need you to be there when the breakdowns do happen because defensive breakdowns are an inevitability. We want the difference of  when he is in the net and when you're in between the pipes to be a tiny margin, if any.

Offseason Homework

1.) Work with a sports psychologist. You can't be a roller coaster confidence-wise. We need you to have ice in your veins when things go well and when things go wrong. You need to be at a consistent level mentally to give yourself a chance to be consistent physically. We will be counting on you next year to make strides and become the goaltender we think you can be.

2.) Shadow Dubnyk. Workout with him. Learn how he works. Know what makes him tick. We need you to learn what he knows and mold that into your game so that you can grow as a goaltender. If he says that "head trajectory" is a key to his success, listen to what he says. He's a big netminder like yourself and getting the big frame to follow the puck is key to stopping the puck.

3.) Get out of your head. You are a good goaltender. You need to stop doubting yourself. Find that swagger that you showed when you're on top of your game. We need you next season, whether it's a back-up role or starting role, to be sharp, confident, and willing to give us your best on any night we call your name.