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.