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Wild Bye-week meanderings and your questions!

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The Wild are taking the week off, but we aren’t! A few random thoughts on some news and a bonus mailbag Q&A session with yours truly.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

With the Minnesota Wild on their bye week, we don’t have a whole lot going on to speak of. The Vikings certainly aren’t giving up the spotlight anytime soon either. The Wild left us with a sour taste in our mouths as they went into their bye week. Not sure anyone really cared either after the happenings at US Bank Stadium Sunday evening. But with no real news surrounding the team, I’ve decided to pass the time today by discussing a few items of the week and finish things off with a mailbag of your questions. Let’s get right down to business then.

My name is ....

Disappointed. The NHL has gone ahead and shown us something very telling here this week. As the world is flying forward at the speed of the next big tech advancement, the NHL is clinging desperately to the past. As the chorus of players and fans alike swells in intensity, calling for greater player safety, the NHL clings to a notion that fighting has a place in a skill game. A league that believes the goalie trapezoid serves any kind of purpose but to rob fans of incredible goalie gaffes and near-miss opportunities.

We are living in a world where the NHL is so damn hell-bent on living in the days of yesteryear, that they have actually gone ahead and cemented that notoriety by acquiring the services of Robert James Ritchie for the NHL All-Star Game in game entertainment. You are probably more familiar with Ritchie when he goes by his stage name, Kid Rock. Ritchie, who is a Detroit native is clearly the only choice that makes sense for a game to be played in Tampa Bay, Florida. Nothing screams Florida quite like the kid. If the NHL really needed an irrelevant act from the 90’s they could have at least gone with Matchbox Twenty who actually have ties to the area, but what do I know about terrible music?

Twitter seems to agree with me here. Kid Rock is about as out of left field kind of pick you could go with for your All-Star entertainment. I don’t think I’ve even uttered his name in years without laughing at the notion that he’s nothing more than a caricature. An over-stuffed bourbon advertisement waiving an American flag and has been screaming the same line into a mic for 20+ years now, and lucky you, you’ll get to hear it during the 2nd intermission of the NHL All-Star Game. Bravo NHL! You would have been better served just having The Rock stand on a stage and flex for 20 minutes, or have Chris Rock show up and do whatever it is he does these days. There are better rock options NHL. C’mon!

Hockey Day Minnesota

The spectacle is upon us once again. When the Wild emerge from their hibernation, they will once again put the crown on the jewel that is Hockey Day Minnesota, 2018. For those not familiar, Hockey Day Minnesota, or HDM, is a celebration of hockey in, you guessed it, Minnesota. It’s a full day of hockey, from prep athletes all the way up to the NHL. You can check out the broadcasting details over at Fox Sports North’s website and plan your day accordingly.

HDM 2018 is the 12th installment in the series. Our little celebration is almost a teenager, awwwwwwww. Five games will be featured this year, which is about average for the event. Last year’s festivities at Lowell Park in Stillwater managed to squeeze in an extra game, but over the course of the event they have predominantly gone with 5. They have, in fact, featured 5 games 7 times in its history. Is that more than enough information about game count for you?

The event for me has kind of grown stale. Not to say the promotion isn’t trying new things to spike your interest. This year they are delving into the world of VR and you will be able to put on your own super-stylish face enhancer to enhance your experience in what looks like someone elses living room. They won’t be running this experience for every game, I think the NHL would have something to say about them broadcasting the game in VR. From the games featured in VR it looks like you’ll be sitting in a room with the game on a screen and a bunch of avatars running around probably asking each other for nudes.

This all goes down in St. Cloud and will feature 3 outdoor games. For the first time this year will feature a women’s college hockey game played outdoors on Lake George. St. Cloud State will welcome the University of Minnesota Duluth women’s squad for a 1 pm matinee game. Rounding out the outdoor games will be the boys St. Cloud against St. Cloud Cathedral in the early game as well as Moorhead against Centennial in the late game.

Of course the celebration caps off with the Wild welcoming the powerhouse of the east in the Tampa Bay Lightning, but not before the men’s Minnesota State - Mankato faces off against St. Cloud State. I hear those two are like besties or something.

Mailbag

If we've learned anything over the years, it's that you just can't get rid of a Stewie. They always come back, not too dissimilar to a Nate Prosser. We are all fully aware that the arch nemesis of a Stewie is in fact a Lois. To acquire a Lois might increase your odds of ridding yourself of this Stewie problem, although Lois seems dimfully unaware of Stewie's many attempts to slay his nemesis.

Oh I'm just on top of the damn world...

Chuck Fletcher is in his 9th season as GM for the Minnesota Wild. In that time. He is on his 3rd head coach of his tenure, plus an interim coach in John Torchetti. In 8 full seasons Fletcher has seen the team he built enjoy the most sustained success in franchise history having made the playoffs for 5 consecutive seasons.

Yet this team has not even had a sniff of the conference final under his leadership and the team stands a real risk to miss the post-season and snap their streak of playoff appearances. Fletcher gambled on this team for the last few seasons, parting ways with valuable draft picks to bringing names like Martin Hanzal to try and force this team over the hump. Fletcher has gambled, and he has lost.

The fact that Fletcher hasn't been extended in a contract year looms large. This is also a season where due to salary cap constraints his hands are tied now more than ever. This team has been perpetually one piece away from glory, and that doesn't look good for Fletcher as he's never found a way to secure that piece, assuming he even knows what this team needs in the first place.

The writing may be on the wall for Fletcher. Missing the playoffs would be a huge blow to his chances of retention, and even if they make the playoffs he might not be safe. An early exit could very well mean Fletcher will find himself in the unemployment line this summer.

Last I heard Justin Timberlake doesn't play hockey.

Unfortunately for Ryan Murphy, as long as Nate Prosser breathes oxygen he will occupy a spot on the Wild roster. Let's just go ahead and bury the thought that Prosser will ever leave Minnesota. He's a lifer, plain and simple. And for as much crap as we do give Prosser, he's not always terrible. You know exactly what you're going to get with him and he can take a hit along the boards like no other.

A goal-scoring goalie? What's not to like about that? Last season Kahkonen saved 92% of the shots he faced in Liiga, the top Finnish hockey league. Through 41 games this season he is posting an amazing 1.94 GAA alongside a .931 Sv%. The 21 year old Finnish native seems ready to take that next step and the Wild would be wise to make every effort to bring this kid state-side as soon as possible. It's never too soon to start thinking about the future between the pipes, and this kid (not to be confused with Kid Rock) seems to be getting better every step he takes.

That's going to do it for today. Thanks for the questions, I hope I was able to adequately answer them for you. Feel free to ask more in the comments section. Maybe we'll do a mailbag again next week.