The focus is naturally on Bruce Boudreau, the hard-luck head coach in the midst of another first-round nightmare.
But spare a few thoughts, too, for general manager Chuck Fletcher. He went all-in at the trade deadline, and now his Minnesota Wild are in danger of being swept by the St. Louis Blues.
The Wild, you’ll recall, sent a first-round draft pick and more to get forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White, both pending unrestricted free agents, from Arizona in February.
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“We’re just putting our chips in the middle of the table for this year,” Fletcher said at the time, per NHL.com. “We like our group and we think our players deserve the best chance possible to compete [and want to] see what we can do. Again, nothing’s promised and we know it will be tough, but I think our thought is we may as well take a swing and see how far we can go.”
The Wild were 39-14-6 when the deal went down, so it’s hard to blame Fletcher for his thought process. But barring a miraculous comeback, Minnesota will fall to 2-5 in playoff series under his watch. He’s been on the job since 2009, and despite a healthy payroll that includes $196 million worth of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild have yet to get past the second round.
The good news for Fletcher is that owner Craig Leipold did not expect to win a Stanley Cup this year.
“I don’t know, they could surprise me,” Leipold said in January. “But I don’t think we’ve got that type of team. We haven’t built it yet.”
Fletcher also saw four of his draft picks show well at the World Juniors — a nice feather in the GM’s cap.
But there’s no denying that his team is on the verge of a massive letdown. Hiring Boudreau was supposed to get the Wild over the hump.
Instead, it’s looking like another early playoff exit for both men.
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