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Wilderness Walk: GM Search Starts with Two Candidates

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Get caught up on all the latest news from Minnesota and around the NHL in today’s Wilderness Walk!

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2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Happy Fri-yay Wilderness!

Last evening, Michael Russo of The Athletic reported that that Minnesota Wild have started their initial interviews. The first two candidates interviewed for the job are former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall and former Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli.

Hextall played 13 NHL seasons during his career (11 seasons in Philadelphia), hanging up his pads at the top of the Flyers record book, and still holds the franchise record in wins. Hextall is just one of five players (all goaltenders) to have won the Conn Smythe Trophy after losing in the Stanley Cup Final. Hextall captured the award as a rookie after posting a 15-11 record with two shutouts. Philadelphia’s loss came at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers led by Wayne Gretzky.

Following his playing days, Hextall moved to the front office. He started as a scout for the Flyers in 1999-00 and then he became an assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Kings in 2006-07. He served in that position until the 2013-14 season. Following his time in Los Angeles, he moved back to Philadelphia as an assistant general manager for one year before being promoted to GM just prior to the 2014-15 season. Hextall served a little over four seasons as GM of the Flyers before being fired earlier last season.

Our friends over at Broad Street Hockey have some great articles depicting the Brandon, Manitoba native’s tenure as Philadelphia’s GM. The first article is a guide to Hextall’s time as Flyers GM, and the second article is their initial coverage when Hextall was fired.

It almost sounds harsh to say, but Peter Chiarelli — the other candidate that has been interviewed for the GM vacancy in Minnesota — has been the brunt of many memes and jokes in the NHL world. Some for good reason though. Here’s a great thread by @MrBooth_7 on Twitter depicting Chiarelli’s mistakes as a GM. It’s truly mind-boggling some of the decisions he’s made. You can click the embedded tweet to head straight to the thread:

Although I do think his decisions speak for themselves, Chiarelli did manage the 2011 Boston Bruins — who won the Stanley Cup. So, he does have that to his credit. That’s one more Stanley Cup on his resume than fellow candidate Ron Hextall has to offer.

Fri-yay Fun Fact: In 1974, Buffalo Sabres’ GM Punch Imlach purposefully drafted a hockey player who didn’t exist to mock the slow drafting process. In the 11th round (183rd overall) of the 1974 NHL Entry Draft, the Sabres selected the fictitious Taro Tsujimoto from Tokyo, Japan. No one realized it until training camp started.

Taking us through the Walk this morning is “Better” by Khalid.

Wild News

Sources: Wild GM search underway with initial interviews of two candidates – The Athletic
Ron Hextall and Peter Chiarelli have both interviewed for the Wild GM opening, sources say. The process is said to be in the early stages. Stay tuned to this page for more coverage on the GM search, analysis on what the team need in a new GM, and the breaking news on who they ink for the position.

How much damage did Paul Fenton do to the Minnesota Wild? – The Athletic
Over this past season it wasn't very clear what the Wild were trying to accomplish. Maybe that says it all.

What's in store for Wild after firing GM
The Minnesota Wild truly made waves in relieving Paul Fenton of his duties just over 14 months into the job.

Whom should the Wild hire as their next GM?
ESPN breaks down the top candidates for the job and make their pick. Plus, a look at the task ahead for the next hire.

On Frozen Pond

Catching up with coach: Checking in with Tim Army
With just under seven weeks remaining in the off-season,'s Dan Myers will catch up with all three head coaches in the organization. Earlier this week, he chatted with Iowa Wild head coach Tim Army.

As the new season approaches, new players arrive on new teams to begin another campaign. For fans, it means welcoming new players to their team while also saying goodbye to some fan-favorites. And when players leave, sometimes fans lose touch.

University of Minnesota Athletics Director Mark Coyle talks Gophers hockey and his plans to bring back fans – Twin Cities
Hired as the University of Minnesota’s Athletics Director in 2016, Mark Coyle returned to the school where he was an administrator from 2001 to 2005 and oversaw some of the best days of Gophers men’s hockey, including when coach Don Lucia and assistant Bob Motzko won back-to-back NCAA championships.

Minnesota loses hockey legend: Former Hibbing and Olympic defenseman Jack Petroske dies at 84 | Duluth News Tribune
Whenever Willard Ikola returned to the Iron Range to see his oldest sister, Doris Babiracki, at Edgewood Healthcare in Virginia, Ikola would make a point to also go and see his dear friend and former U.S. Olympic hockey teammate John “Jack” Petroske of Hibbing.

Minnesota State players named to USA Hockey Women's Festival | Local Sports |
John Harrington always enjoys going back to the rink in Lake Placid, New York — the site of the “Miracle on Ice” — which he was part of during the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Former University of Minnesota star Haula readies himself for new NHL adventure -
The former Wild and Gophers forward is working his way back from a knee injury, got married, and was traded in the off-season.

Off The Trail

Cullen joins Penguins staff in player development role
Matt Cullen joined the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey operations department in a player development role on Thursday.

New York Rangers buy out Kevin Shattenkirk -
The Rangers have bought out the final two seasons of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk's contract.

Billionaire Alex Meruelo takes ownership of Coyotes -
Alex Meruelo's latest acquisition could be one of his most challenging: turning the Arizona Coyotes into consistent winners while making the franchise profitable.

A bargain hunter’s guide to the players still available on the NHL free agent market – The Athletic
Analyzing the best of what's left in the 2019 NHL free agent class.

An NHL bench is “like a NASCAR pit crew,” so is four coaches a crowd? – The Athletic
Nowadays, a third of NHL teams have three assistants behind the bench during games. The need for an eye in the sky isn't as prevalent.

Centers on the bubble
NHL Network knows who the best players in the league are right now. They will reveal their lists in a nine-episode series leading up to the season. The first episode is Sunday at 6 p.m. ET and focuses on the top 20 centers.

Neal's history with Oilers coach fuels optimism following trade
Dave Tippett has a history with James Neal, and it is one reason the new Edmonton Oilers coach believes the newly acquired forward will rebound this season.

Mailbag: Malkin set for big season, Devils line combinations with Gusev
Here is the July 31 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which runs every Wednesday. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

“The new normal” — Why fighting in the NHL has dropped to historic lows
The rate of fights on the ice has decreased for the past decade. Former NHL enforcers weigh in on the trend and whether fighting will one day cease entirely.

Predicting PTOs: 59 Potential Tryouts
There will be plenty of PTOs announced in August — professional tryouts for the NHL's remaining unrestricted free agents. Here are 59 predictions for PTOs.

NHL Rumors: Wild, Rangers, Flames, Oilers, More
In today's NHL rumors there are updates out of Minnesota as they search for a new GM, trade rumors out of the Flames and Rangers clubs, and more.

Expansion Plan: Projecting the Detroit Red Wings’ protection list for the 2021 expansion draft - TheHockeyNews
Last time, the youth was exempt and the Red Wings were able to keep their veterans in town. When Seattle arrives though, Detroit will have to protect its young core and hope to shed an aging piece.

Hey Philly fans, get ready to love Joel Farabee - TheHockeyNews
The Flyers first-round pick plays a lot bigger than his frame would suggest and he can certainly produce. He's starring at the World Junior Summer Showcase with Team USA right now.

The top five destinations for Kevin Shattenkirk after Rangers buyout - TheHockeyNews
Nothing went well for Kevin Shattenkirk last season – but to be fair nothing went well for the New York Rangers either. Shattenkirk is on the search for a redemption contract, and there's a handful of teams that can make that happen this summer.

LTIR a lingering issue in CBA negotiations -
On September 1, the NHL can choose to opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). If the league passes on the opportunity, the players have their shot at exercising the right to opt out on September 19.

Stanley Cup long shots that could shock everybody in 2019-20 -
Using Sports Interaction's Stanley Cup odds from late July, they’ve identified four teams outside of the top 15 who could take a long shot run in 2020.

Flames place defenseman Stone on waivers for purpose of buyout -
It appears the Calgary Flames are parting ways with veteran defender Michael Stone.