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Wild owner defends coach, feels team took step forward

Jun 21, 2013, 9:03 AM EDT

Leipold AP

When the Minnesota Wild acquired forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter last year, the question was how much the team instantly improved. The 2011-12 Wild didn’t come close to making the playoffs, but with two new star players on the roster, there was excitement about the franchise’s future.

In the end, they barely made the postseason in 2013 and were eliminated in five games by the Chicago Blackhawks. With that in mind, Wild owner Craig Leipold was asked how he viewed the 2013 campaign.

“I would say success,” Leipold told the Star Tribune. “Clearly moved forward, got better [but] feel a little empty. I feel like we didn’t accomplish what I thought we had the ability to do.”

Leipold feels the team is moving in the right direction and when the speculation about Wild coach Mike Yeo’s job being on the line was brought to him, he was quick to defend the bench boss.

“I can just tell you that we like Mike,” Leipold said. “He’s our guy. If some list puts him on the hot seat, that’s just people doing that. That’s not going to affect us.”

He also feels the team had some tough breaks that might have contributed to the way their season ended. Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville both suffered late season injuries and even when Pominville returned “he wasn’t himself.”

On top of that, they lost starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom during the warmups for Game 1 of their first round series.

“That stuff just doesn’t happen,” Leipold said. “That’s like a movie. So those are some of the reasons we feel like we just didn’t have the breaks. But we also didn’t achieve what we thought we could do.”

Going forward, Leipold doesn’t expect the team to be aggressive on the free agent market because they don’t have the cap space for that, but “everything’s on the table” as far as trades go.

He doesn’t think the Wild have the same depth as the Blackhawks team that defeated them, but he doesn’t believe the gap is big.

“Yeah, we’re a couple players off, but we’re not that far off,” he said. “I do believe that.”

  1. rebekah319 - Jun 21, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Its finally nice to have someone else say the things I have been saying all year long… now maybe people will calm themselves down and breathe!

    • rsmaggiemae - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      I have supported the NHL in Minnesota for over 40 yrs, and yes it takes time to build a solid team, but Leopold has to realize that the Wild are a far cry from the Hawks
      and I am NOT a Yeo-Yeo fan at all as he cost the Wild some games with his knowkledge of hockey..,. I dont care much for his system at all,.
      The Wild lack a sniper and another PMD who can score..
      One of the problems is that if the coach does not have confidence then the players are not confident, and I dont see much confidence on the ice from the players at all and i have season tickets… its quite sad…
      Its like some of the players are just there to collect thier pay checks, not much enthusiasm at all on the ice. No passion for the game…. you cant see it in thier eyes.
      I know Leopold is in a bind right now, with the money situation, but I read every day players who could help this team sign with other teams, and that includes a new coach.
      I dont think Yeo has enough experience to be a NHL coach yet…

      I still am upset abut the 2010 draft in picking Granlnd over Bjustad and letting Leddy go to the Hawks, DuPuis to the Penquins, Pouliot to the Bruins etc…
      Many of thier draft picks from years ago are not even in hockey anymore.
      Maybe we need new scouts… yes. they did go after Brodin and Larsson, and some other good players., but look at all the prior draft picks from 2003 and maybe 1-2 are still in the minors and the rest are out of hockey…
      It is so frustrating for a loyal fan… I wish Herb Brooks were still alive to coach the Wild

    • rsmaggiemae - Jun 21, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      To Rebekah319
      I have been waiting almost 40 years for a championship team,. its always next year we will have a good team who can win jusst wait and see we need time to develop… but it never seems to happen its the same thing over and over again… yes. the Wild got into the playoffs by the skin of thier teeth and in my opinion, they should have never made it, Columbus should have made the playoffs, they had the desire which I dont see in many of the Wild players
      I just dont go to Wild games, I go to Gophers men and women and also the high school games. have been going to games probably longer than you have been alive.
      I just get so frustrated that they cant seem to get a good team togehter who plays like a unit and has the desire to win all the time ….
      Maybe some of the players need a kick in the behind to play better and need to get called out..
      I am not in the locker room so dont know what YEO says to them.
      I am a huge Herb Brooks fan and he used psychology on his players.He got the best out of each player at each position all the time…
      how do other teams seem to get good players who play like a unit and have the desire
      Sometimes I think that some of the players who come here just think, that the fans will support the team no matter if we play good or not, its the state of hockey, not to worry.
      I realize that i make the decision to spend tons of money on hockey, but it would be great just once to have a winner.
      like I said, if Leoplod thinks the Wild can compete with the Hawks, he is living in a dream world… and now we have Dallas. Nashville to contend with too in our division.

      Throughout the year it seemed to me that there were always excuses as to why the Wild cant play well, no training camp, too much travel, not enough sleep, these are professional players and for the money they earn compared to the rest of the world, should bust thier behinds to play the best they can…no excuses
      There are some players who do bust thier behind to win and I feel sorry for them that some of the others dont play the same way… just my opinion

    • rsmaggiemae - Jun 21, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      to all the fans in Minnesota
      Since I will be dead by the time the cup would come here, went thru a broker and got tickets to the game in Chgo for tomorrow… went in 2010 also,. and its great!!
      Here is my question
      If the Wild start out terribly for the new season, and Yeo is let go who would they get?
      Dallas wanted a veteran coach in Ruff, Torts is gone,Tippet has signed, Vinault is now in NY who would the Wild get that has experience???

      Second question
      Daniel Alfredsson won the trophy for his work in the Ottawa community and Toews was also up for the award for his work for kids with cancer and Bergeron was up with his Patrice’s kids foundtion, what has our captain done in our community??
      I have never seen Koivu on tv visisting kids in the hospital, or behind the
      DTBL organization for soldiers. does he just take the money and run to Finland…
      Does anyone know what he does for our community????
      Let me know

  2. earpaniac - Jun 21, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    If he doesn’t believe the gap is that big between them and the Blackhawks, then he is an idiot.

    • sknut - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      What do you expect him to say?

      I would trade Clutterbuck I know the return is going to be minimal I just feel like you can have a less expensive player in his role. It would be nice if they could get another D-Man to pair with Spurgeon. And Granland I would hope will take a step forward this year.

      • polegojim - Jun 21, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        I expect him not to try to blow smoke… when EVERY educated NHL Fan knows differently… this team did very little ‘BETTER’ with all the supposed powerhouse moves.

        Only Suter lived up to the expectations.

  3. prov1x - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    He’s a little boy playing with the wife’s family money. Clueless.

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