The Minnesota Wild are going to have coach Mike Yeo around a bit longer if reports are to be believed.
Michael Russo of The Star Tribune reports the Wild and Yeo are close to locking down a multiyear contract extension to keep him behind the bench in St. Paul.
Final details were being worked out Friday night, but all signs pointed toward an agreement soon, multiple sources said. Yeo, General Manager Chuck Fletcher and other members of the front office are due to leave for owner Craig Leipold’s home in the Bahamas on Saturday for meetings.
Yeo, 40, has been coach of the Wild for three seasons and two of those have seen the team in the playoffs. Each season has seen progression under his leadership as the team started hot but missed the postseason in his first year and advanced to the second round this season. The Wild have lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs the past two seasons.
In three seasons, Yeo’s record is steady at 104-82-26 but it’s the improvements the team has made under him that has Wild leadership eager to keep him around.
While Thomas Vanek is busy trying to help the Montreal Canadiens win their first Stanley Cup since 1993, his impending unrestricted free agency this summer is there tantalizing some teams.
Columnist Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold will be there waiting for Vanek on July 1 and they won’t be shy about going all-in for him.
“This summer, look for Leipold, the Wild owner, to spend whatever it takes — probably another $40 million or so — to add free agent Thomas Vanek to the roster.”
Vanek, 30, will be cashing in in a big way from someone when he hits free agency. The Wild have long been considered a front-runner to sign him because of his history in Minnesota. Vanek won a national championship at the University of Minnesota in 2003 and his family is from there.
The Wild will have at least one big contract off the books this summer as Dany Heatley’s $7.5 million cap hit is gone after this season. That frees up a big chunk of change to bring in Vanek or anyone else they might desire.
This is the first time Vanek has reached unrestricted free agency in his career and after numerous seasons of big offense with the Buffalo Sabres, he’s shown the New York Islanders and Canadiens he can do it anywhere.
Minnesota’s Zach Parise hasn’t been one to shy away from speaking his mind during the lockout. He’s called out Gary Bettman and spoken freely about blaming the owners, except his own of course.
After seeing talks fall apart on Thursday, many have been saying how it could ruin talks the rest of the way and kill the season. Parise tells Michael Russo of The Star-Tribune he isn’t buying that at all.
“I don’t think it’s as dramatic as everyone’s trying to make it,” Parise said. “I don’t know the ins and outs of everything. But we have an agreement on a lot of things, I mean, a lot of things. There are still one or two things that need to be talked about, and in my eyes that’s not a total derailment of a negotiation. I think people are being a little dramatic thinking this is Doomsday, which I don’t believe.”
People being dramatic during the lockout? No way…
Truth here is Parise’s right. Thursday’s very public blowup feels almost like it was all for show but both sides are closer than they were before they hunkered down to meet for three days. Time will tell if that’s actually true or not, but both sides clearly need to play this season.
Minnesota’s Zach Parise has been pretty vocal when it comes to calling out the owners as the lockout rages on. He’s sounded off before, but after seeing the NHL reject the players’ union’s three proposals this afternoon, he’s got his dander up again.
Parise tells Michael Russo of The Star-Tribune he’s upset about how the owners conducted business this summer with a lockout on the horizon they knew they’d put into effect and Wild owner Craig Leipold sort of gets called out.
“You have all these owners signing big deals minutes before the CBA expires and then going the next day, ‘We don’t want to pay these contracts,'” Parise said. “Maybe that’s how they conduct business. That just doesn’t seem right. What if us players signed a deal and said, ‘You know what, I actually want 15 percent more?'”
Russo asked Parise if he was, indeed, calling out Leipold and he wisely said he wasn’t “pointing fingers” at anyone. Hmm.
Leipold, of course, signed Parise and Ryan Suter to identical 13-year, $98 million contracts this summer. Meanwhile, Leipold is one of the owners leading negotiations for their side, precisely one of the owners Parise would be calling out if he were assessing blame.
While many teams are reaching out in a big way to fans with their messages explaining the lockout, the Minnesota Wild are doing things a little different.
The Wild posted their message to the fans with one note in particular that plainly points out exactly where they fall in this labor struggle.
We appreciate the continued support of our fans, business partners, community partners and employees as we work through the challenges caused by the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and potential delay in the start of this most promising season.
At the same time, we support the League’s position and trust our NHL negotiating team is looking out for the long-term interests of the game. Even as NHL games may be missed, the Wild will continue to support the great sport of hockey at all levels through our grass roots partnerships with amateur hockey associations.
It should be obvious that the teams themselves are on the owners side of the argument, but the Wild (so far) are the only ones to come out and say it.
Team owner Craig Leipold has been prominently involved in negotiations for the NHL and while he made the biggest splash of the summer signing both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, he wants to see teams get a bigger piece of the pie financially.