As much as the hockey world has justifiably heaped praise upon Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman for a great first year of work, one could say that his “real” work begins this off-season. He faces the task of re-signing (or deciding not to re-sign) some free agents who were integral parts of the team’s cup run, from restricted free agents such as young star Steven Stamkos to unrestricted players including Dwayne Roloson and Eric Brewer.
While those aforementioned free agents were expected to be tough decisions for Yzerman, there were also two pending free agents who exploded onto the scene in the 2011 playoffs: Sean Bergenheim and Teddy Purcell.
Purcell quietly had a better overall playoff run in my opinion (Purcell had 17 points versus Bergenheim’s 11), but Bergenheim could be a tougher guy to keep because he’s primed to be an unrestricted free agent while Purcell will be restricted. It’s obvious that Bergenheim deserves a nice raise from the $700K he made in 2010-11, but figuring out a proper price might be difficult.
That’s a situation that his agent Todd Diamond* acknowledged to Tampa Bay beat writer Damian Cristodero, although it’s said that there could be some posturing going on.
Diamond on Friday said the sides have “right now agreed to disagree” on a new contract.
Asked if he believed a deal could get done before July 1, when Bergenheim hits the open market, Diamond said, “It’s not going to be easy, but stranger things can happen.”
He only scored a career-high 29 points during the 2010-11 regular season, so it’s not as if he was clearly building toward a hot postseason. Did Bergenheim really have a breakthrough in the playoffs or did he simply engineer an out of left field run that won’t be duplicated? We won’t begin to find out until after he signs his next contract, which could make things very interesting. Yzerman made all the right moves so far, but it will be intriguing to see how he handles this and many other questions this summer.
* – Talk about a name that’s too good to be true for an agent, eh?
Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.
It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:
The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.
Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.
One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?
Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …
Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.
/paging Jacques Lemaire …
The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.
The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.
According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).
Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.
Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines:
If the Minnesota Wild want to make a coaching change, it sounds like Mike Yeo won’t make it easy for them by stepping down.
“I’m not freaking quitting here,” Yeo said to reporters including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
It also sounds like Yeo realizes that Minnesota’s morbid losing streak – now at a worrisome eight games – may very well cost him his job.
The scene sounded pretty somber after today’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and not in your usual way.
Firing Yeo would be a big step for the Wild, even more than usual, as he began his coaching stint in 2011. GM Chuck Fletcher was hired in 2009, so the two have been attached at the hip since then.
(And they got to know each other well in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.)
Will one or both be gone, possibly in the near future? Even Yeo admits big changes can happen.
Wild players, meanwhile, just seem beaten down … and maybe ambivalent about Yeo?
Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for the Wild, they hit a new low.
Minnesota dropped an eighth straight decision in Saturday’s matinee against the Boston Bruins.
The Wild got behind the eight ball early.
Brad Marchand opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at the 6:18 mark of the first period.
Thomas Vanek ended a 10-game goal drought to tie the game at one in the second period.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, the Bruins answered with goals by David Krejci, Loui Eriksson and Zdeno Chara.
Minnesota drops to 0-4 since GM Cliff Fletcher announced that coach Mike Yeo and his staff were safe.
Even the captain acknowledged that today’s effort wasn’t good enough:
The numbers aren’t pretty:
If they were to lose next Sunday’s Stadium Series game against Chicago, they would establish a new franchise record with their ninth straight loss on ice.
As bad as the Wild have been, they’re still in the thick of the playoff race.
Minnesota is three points behind Nashville for the final Wild Card spot in the West.