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Wild owner Leipold: ‘We think our team is very much like the Kings’

Apr 29, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT

Leipold AP

Say this about Craig Leipold — he’s not short on confidence.

Two days after Minnesota made the postseason for the first time since 2008 — as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed –  the owner said his club reminded him of another eighth-seeded club:

Last year’s Los Angeles Kings.

More, from Leipold’s interview with Bob Sansevere of the Pioneer Press:

BS: In every sport, there have been teams that struggle at the end of a regular season and then have renewed life. Is that what you’re expecting to happen?

CL: There is no better example than what happened last year with the Los Angeles Kings.

The L.A. Kings only won four of their last 11 games and they lost their last two games. Still got into the playoffs and end up winning the Stanley Cup. We don’t have to go very far to find a model. We think our team is very much like the Kings. We go hot. We go cold. We did it all season.

Now we’ve got to go hot, and we think we can.

To build on this theme, recent success of No. 8 seeds actually goes beyond Los Angeles:

– In 2012, Ottawa took the New York Rangers to Game 7.

– In 2011, Chicago took Vancouver to Game 7.

– In 2010, Montreal made it to the Eastern Conference finals.

– In 2009, Anaheim beat San Jose in Round 1.

But there’s a problem in comparing this year’s Minnesota team with last year’s Los Angeles team, and that problem is playoff experience.

Specifically, how the Wild fall short of the Kings.

Only Zach Parise, Torrey Mitchell, Mike Rupp, Devin Setoguchi, Brett Clark and Matt Cullen have made it past the second round in their careers.

The likes of Tom Gilbert, Kyle Brodziak, Cal Clutterbuck, Charlie Coyle, Justin Falk, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Clayton Stoner will all be making their postseason debuts.

The Kings, meanwhile, went into last postseason with four Stanley Cup winners (Justin Williams, Dustin Penner, Rob Scuderi, Colin Fraser), five more Cup finalists (Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, Matt Greene, Jarret Stoll) and an experienced playoff vet in Willie Mitchell.

Despite this, Leipold remains confident in his group.

“This is a whole new season,” he explained. “It’s the hot team with the hot goalie and hot players that will now start to rise. We think we’ve got a chance to do that.”

  1. jpat2424 - Apr 29, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    Get your tee times ready wild. Ya gotta bought a week.

    • gooterbaby - Apr 29, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      Ya spelta boughta wronga!

  2. bigoldorcafromvan - Apr 29, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Just Clutterize Hossa and put somebody in Toew.s face all the time and you can beat the Squawks Minny. I hope you can.

    • blackhawksdynasty - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:45 PM

      That easy eh? Keep dreamin. If it was that easy, the other 14 teams in the west would’ve done that all year. Clearly Chicago has too many high powered weapons to shut down. You’d need 3 lines of guys able to that, while most teams don’t even have 3 PLAYERS capable of doing that. Good luck.

    • blackhawksdynasty - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      That easy eh? I thought we’ve ben through this already, bigold…. Keep dreamin. If it was that easy, the other 14 teams in the west would’ve done that all year. Clearly Chicago has too many high powered weapons to shut down. You’d need 3 lines of guys able to that, while most teams don’t even have 3 PLAYERS capable of doing that. Good luck.

      • blackhawksdynasty - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:48 PM

        oops…. stupid computer….(or stupid user)

  3. bcsteele - Apr 29, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    With all due respect sir, and I’m a Blues fan, but not even close. The Wild don’t have anywhere near the size and physical play the Kings do. I understand you are happy with your team (barely) making the playoffs, but be more real about the situation when you start making decisions in the off season. This team has made strides but they are the only team in the west the majority agrees stands very little chance of making a deep run.

    I’ve been wrong before and would aplaud them if they prove me wrong, but just don’t see it going that way. Sorry.

  4. chicagobtech - Apr 29, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    I wish the Wild all the luck they’re going to need. Which will be a lot.

  5. in1chuck1we1trust - Apr 29, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Can’t wait for the world to see the crawks for who they really are

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Apr 29, 2013 at 5:57 PM

      ok! And who are they exactly?

    • blackhawksdynasty - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:49 PM

      the best team in the NHL, obviously

  6. blomfeld - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    SO 200 MILLION DOLLARS ALLOWS YOU TO “SQUEAK” INTO THE PLAYOFFS ?

    Look, don’t get me wrong as I’ve great respect for the decent folk of Minnesota … “don’t ya know?” :) But seriously man, what’s this guy talking about? As if the Wild are even ‘remotely’ similar to our glorious Kings eh ? And what the hell kind of ‘ROI’ is that for an investment of $197,000,000.00 ? I sincerely wish the Wild all the best in going forward, etc. But in the meantime, this Leipold clown needs to be relieved of his command ‘asap’ and given a ‘top to bottom’ psychiatric evaluation !

    • lordfletcher - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:56 PM

      Why does it matter how much he spent on two players? Its not your money or mine. Its year one into these deals, give it time

      That said, 200mil bought him a chance for a Stanley cup for the next 7 years or so(could be longer who knows) and from a business standpoint … it could pay of in the Minnesota market.

      wild. could win in 6 or 7 games, could lose in 4. either way they have a chance. But those hawks are incredibly good

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:09 PM

        Way too early to say that those signings gave them a chance for the next 7+ years, the Wild are going to have to manage the cap going forward, and yes they have several quality young players both in the NHL and the AHL, but those players are eventually going to need raises and some will be replaced by other younger players. Right now I’d say the Wild are good for the next 3 years, just based on the potential of the young players they have and can use as replacements, but it’ll be how they draft going forward, when they’re not picking near the top of each round, that will determine the long term viability of the Wild. The reason the Red Wings have had a 2 decade + long run has been because of how they draft, it seems no matter who has left (with the exception of Lidstrom) they’ve had a replacement ready to plug in and take over. Add to that we’re assuming that Parise and Suter will continue at their current levels, which might be hard to ask of them 5 or 6 years from now.

        Not saying it won’t happen, but it’ll take a lot of work for the Wild (or any team for that matter) to be in the mix for 7+ years, 2 players helps but it’s the other 21 that you have year after year that will really determine that.

      • blomfeld - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:18 PM

        “Why does it matter how much he spent on two players?” …

        Given your privileged title of Lord Fletcher, your fiscal ‘flippancy’ is hardly surprising. Then again, who are we ‘lowly’ wage-earners to go and question what the ‘high and mighty’ so choose to do? Our station in life is to remain ‘one’ with our shovels. And therefore we must always remain silent whenever worldly matters of high finance and commerce are concerned …

        Just kidding friend and I do wish the Wild well. Nonetheless, Leipold could have bought three entire NHL teams for less than the 197 million he committed to these two guys ! It’s positively mind-boggling when you think about, eh ?

      • lordfletcher - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:54 PM

        @atwatercrushesokoye

        I say 7 years because if you look at their core players, most are near 27 or 28 and the remaining team is under 23. They have plenty of chances to make the playoffs, hence a “chance” to win the cup.

        Who knows, anything can happen. Time will tell.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      It doesn’t matter what the amount of the contract is. After next season, their contracts are going to look better each year. We have proof of how good that looks in the past. I bring you to September 13, 2006. The Islanders sign Rick DiPietro to a 15 year 67.5 million dollar contract. That was the second longest contract in all of sports at the time. That’s 4.5 million per season. The only difference is Parise and Suter are legitimate NHL stars. If DiPietro did pan out, 4.5 million would be a bargain right now considering Pekka Rinne is making 7.0 per season, Tim Thomas was making 5 million, fleury 5 million, Brodeur 5.2, Luongo 5.33, Bryzgalov 5.67, Kiprusoff 5.83, Backstrom 6 million, Ryan Miller 6.25, Cam Ward 6.3, and Lundquist 6.9 million.

      The point is, as NHL revenues continue to go up, so are player salaries. It’s eventually going to be at the point where Suter and Parise’s 7.whatever million will look like DiPietro’s 4.5 million does now.

    • prideonice - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Great point….if they had signed Parise and Suter for $197M FOR ONE YEAR. Might wanna wait a bit on that ROI. I guess you probably expected Leipold to give a press conference saying the Wild were forfeiting?

  7. barkar942 - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT?
    Those are rose colored glasses he is wearing, right?

    • spiciercheez - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      Nah, Iron Range Red actually.

  8. atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    One big asterisk, the Kings had a goalie who had one of the greatest runs any goalie has ever had in the playoffs, Quick stole games for the Kings and won rounds, the Wild have Backstrom. Enjoy the next 4 or 5 games Wild fans, you made strides this year but it’s not yet your time.

  9. hockeydon10 - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    He’s right. Except for the skill of the players and the coach, there are a lot of similarities.

    • blomfeld - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      “there are a lot of similarities”

      Like what ? … the fact that both teams use hockey sticks ? … or that both teams play on ice ? … or that both teams have equipment managers ? The “skill of the players and the coach” is everything my friend … and on that score we Kings are the very ‘best’ of the best ! :)

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:57 PM

        Were the best of the best, last year, it’s a new Stanley Cup playoffs, there’s no champion yet, and it’ll take 2 months or so for us to know who the true best of the best is.

      • blomfeld - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:25 PM

        so say 2 months “prior” to your 54th birthday, are you to say that your 53 years old or 54 years old ? … I believe that the majority of reasonable people would go with the former …

      • hockeydon10 - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        They both play hockey? I think that’s as close as I can get.

        But thanks for taking everything as seriously as possible.

  10. jernster21 - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    …except the Wild really aren’t that good. They’re missing Heatley more than they know and Backstrom is hit or miss.

  11. joelwrobinson - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    The Kings started the season poorly and stepped up when it really mattered. The Wild did the exact opposite.

    • mp1131211 - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:03 AM

      Actually, every game mattered. And they’ve shown how they are capable of playing. That has to be their focus moving forward- fulfilling their potential.

  12. csilojohnson - Apr 29, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    To bad there are already a few teams that are already hot. They don’t have to worry about getting hot.

  13. greatminnesotasportsmind - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    Go ahead Chicago fans, laugh it up now. This series is going 6 games. Wild may not win, but it isn’t going to be a cake walk to the next round.

    It’s the playoffs, anything can and does happen. All it takes is 1 hot goaltender to carry a team far. Kinda like the last time Minnesota/Chicago met in the playoffs. Some of you kids weren’t born yet, but Jon Casey not only carried the North Stars past the President’s Trophy winner, Chicago (sounds familiar?) in 6 games.

    It’s the playoffs, all it takes is a bad bounce to carry a team to a win. Or even a team that has a 3-1 lead to choke it away thinking the series is already won. We’ve seen it happen as recently as 2 years ago with Boston.

    When the season started, all the pressure was on Minnesota to make the playoffs, today all the pressure is on Chicago being to league’s best regular season team. That was the regular season. This is the playoffs, right now all 16 teams that qualified are 0-0.

  14. 2qswing - Apr 30, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Easy big fella. Go count your money. But for a blown “no goal” call in the last game you’d probably be lookin at a bloated payroll, no playoffs and a fired coach. Cant buy a cup. Kings had size, grit, timely scoring and the best goaltending in the playoffs last year. You have one line (that’s WITH Pomonville), shaky in net and maybe maybe 3 deep on D.

  15. rolandrock022 - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    The article forgot to mention Jason Pominville made it past the first round for the Wild. He’s gone to two ECF while playing for Buffalo.

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