Minnesota fans facing a bleak future

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The hockey fans in Minnesota deserve better.

The Wild are
sputtering and stumbling towards the end of yet another disappointing
season, and it doesn’t appear that there’s help on the way. After
finishing third in the Western Conference in 2008, the Wild missed the
playoffs by just two points this season and are woefully behind the
curve this year. What about next season? Well, it could get even worse.

Minnesota
already has $45 million locked up in payroll for next season, with six
players facing free agency and five scheduled to be restricted free
agents, including Josh Harding and Guillaume Latendresse. In this
situation, you’d hope that there’s help on the way from the team’s farm
system — that is certainly not the case with Minnesota.

Ranked
30th by Hockey’s Future in the NHL and 29th by The Hockey News, the Wild
are facing a very dark immediate future. They don’t have the cap space
to re-tool the team with free agents and there aren’t any magical
prospects on their way to save the Wild from mediocrity.

Michael Russo expands on
this point on Twitter
, stating that the Wild had just four draft
picks in 2008, no second or third rounders in 2007 and have traded away
one of their top draft picks in Nick Leddy.

What’s even more
frustrating to watch is how the Wild have seemingly just given up the
past two weeks. They’ve lost four games in row, including the offensive
embarrassment against Florida and lost to Detroit last night before
taking on Buffalo tonight. It’s a tough schedule, for certain, but
they’re not even trying to improve.

After the horrid performance
against Florida, the Wild held an optional practice with just nine
players (and not the coach) showing up. The Wild technically were still
in the playoff hunt a week ago and never really seemed interested in
putting up a fight.

This is the team that Minnesota hockey fans
have to live with. I’m betting they still care. I even like to think
that the players on the team still care. But the team as a whole? Not so
much.