The Minnesota Wild entered this season amid elevated expectations after signing forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to matching 13-year-old, $98,000,000 contracts over the summer.
This is also a team that failed to make the playoffs in their previous four campaigns and finished 12th in the Western Conference in 2011-12. The additions of Suter and Parise were huge, but it’s not like they were joining a team on the cusp of greatness.
This is still a growing club and with that in mind, Wild coach Mike Yeo can see the silver lining even after being eliminated in five games by the Chicago Blackhawks.
“This was another important step for us, and even feeling this feeling that we feel right now,” Yeo said, according to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo. “This is going to help us.”
Minnesota has some decisions to make over the summer. They already have $55,812,201 committed to 17 players, according to Cap Geek, so they’re not in a great position to make another big splash.
All the same, 35-year-old netminder Niklas Backstrom is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, so the Wild need to address that situation. Otherwise they’ll enter the 2013-14 campaign with a tandem of 23-year-old Darcy Kuemper and Josh Harding.
The Wild also have several young players that might take a step forward in 2013-14, but perhaps the most notable is 21-year-old forward Mikael Granlund. The expectations surrounding him were high going into this season, but he wasn’t able to make a seamless transition to the NHL. Perhaps next season, he’ll be a difference-maker for this club.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.