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Scratched again, Zidlicky rips Yeo: “He wants to play easy hockey”

Jan 31, 2012, 5:19 PM EDT

Marek Zidlicky Getty Images

Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune is reporting a major rift between Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky and head coach Mike Yeo.

Upon learning he’d be a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s game against Nashville — his third straight as a healthy scratch — Zidlicky lit into Yeo, shedding light on a relationship that has seemingly moved past sour and into the toxic zone.

“I can’t be quiet,” Zidlicky said. “I think three games healthy scratch, it’s more than just like a healthy scratch. [Yeo’s] put me in this position that I am in right now. It’s not easy for me. It’s good for team probably because the guys played pretty well the last two games, but for me, I did everything what he wants me to do.

“I played like 17, 18 minutes ice time, I play just third, fourth line, I stood on the blue line, I didn’t do anything what I did years before. He said everything I do with the puck and without the puck, it’s wrong.”

As those numbers suggest, Zidlicky has seen his role reduce immensely under Yeo. The 34-year-old defenseman was accustomed to playing over 21 minutes a night in a prominent offensive role, but now he’s buried in Minnesota’s third pairing…when he actually gets to dress, that is.

It seems there’s a significant disconnect between Zidlicky’s preferred style — creative, aggressive, offensively oriented — and the way Yeo wants the Wild to play hockey.

“He doesn’t like what I’m doing,” Zidlicky said. “If I’m an offensive player, I’m supposed to play with the top guys. He should show me, ‘You are that guy, and you will be out there the last minute when we need to score.’ There was a lot of times when I just laid on the bench and just wait for my chance. We had a couple meetings about that after 10, 15 games in the season, and I can’t change my style. That’s what I know. That’s for sure.

“He wants to play easy hockey. I tried everything what he wants, but apparently it doesn’t work.”

Following Zidlicky’s rant, Russo said there is “zero doubt” Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher will investigate trading the defenseman. That’s an interesting development, becuse a couple of rumored-to-be-available defenseman (Tim Gleason, Francois Beauchemin) are now off the market after signing contract extensions. A guy like Zidlicky — bad season and all — could be a pretty valuable asset with a track record of offensive production and a big, right-handed shot.

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  1. elvispocomo - Jan 31, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    Zidlicky for Ballard? He can’t seem to find a home in the top 4 in Vancouver, maybe a change of pace would help both players.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      Yowza, is he going to be any happier playing the third pairing in Vancouver than he is in Minnesota?

      Say what you will about Ballard but at least he has been a great team player – he is also much better in his own zone and his offensive production isn’t that bad considering he has less ice time overall and far less powerplay time than Zidlicky.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:04 PM

        I thought I’d get some reactions out of that! ;)

  2. hibackhand - Jan 31, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    anything to get him points. I got him (late) in my pool.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 31, 2012 at 5:46 PM

      He only has 11 so far (all assists) in 34 games, and is -5 in his last two starts, so he’s had a tough year from the sounds of it. Not great news for poolies like yourself.

  3. greatminnesotasportsmind - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    He’s overrated and won’t be here Feb 28 (day after deadline)

  4. greatminnesotasportsmind - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Oh and Marek, there is a reason why the team has a better record when you and/or Zanon don’t play.

  5. arbyemcee - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    The Wild are 12-3 in 15 games without him and 2-10-4 in 16 games with him. Those are hard numbers to ignore. For a franchise that has a large number of young players on the rise who have been educated in the Mike Yeo system of hockey it would seem a smart move to move the, 35 years old on Friday veteran to a system more conducive to his style of play regardless of the compensation and let one of these younger guys get some NHL time.

  6. rgledz - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    How’s that Nick Leddy trade looking right about now?? They let him go in the Johnnson trade because they wanted to lock up Zidlicky to carry the offensive defenseman load for the long term. Nice work boys, Leddy is a second line defensman for a Cup contender, not too mention has almost 3 times the points that Zidlicky has…….oh, did I mention he’s 20 years old too. They could have let Johnnson and Zidlicky walk, kept Leddy and his rookie contract and paid for a legit scorer. Seems nice, but hindsight is 20/20 as they say…..doesn’t hurt to have a guy like Stan Bowman running things either.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:52 PM

      It wasn’t because they wanted to lock up Zidlicky, it was because they wanted a young defenseman. That was Cam Barker. ouch!!! That was why the Wild were willing to throw in Leddy in order to get Barker.

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Jan 31, 2012 at 8:46 PM

      “They let him go in the Johnnson trade because they wanted to lock up Zidlicky to carry the offensive defenseman load for the long term”

      You couldn’t be me wrong!!!! I wish I could smack the stupid out of you.

      Fletcher has already addressed this trade, Barker / Leddy…. enough is enough. Beat a dead horse some more would you.

  7. treydogg97 - Jan 31, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    11 points so far? Sorry but if you’re an offensive defenseman you’re gonna make it happen somehow. We might as well have still had Petteri Nummelin… if he’s gonna sit back and pouty mouth his way out then move his ass. Guys like Clayton Stoner have worked their asses off to get where they’re at and sacrifice to play “easy hockey”.

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