Paul Fenton’s run as Minnesota Wild general manager is over with the speed of a lizard’s tongue.
The Athletic’s Michael Russo pointed to multiple sources within the Wild organization (sub. required) that Wild owner Craig Leipold fired Fenton during a telephone call on Tuesday. The team confirmed it a short while later.
Assistant GM Tom Kurvers will serve in an acting role until a replacement is found.
“After giving much thought to this difficult decision, I informed Paul today that he was not the right fit for our organization going forward,” said Leipold in a statement. “I believe we have a good hockey team, a team that will compete for a playoff spot this year, and I look forward to hiring a General Manager that will help us win a Stanley Cup. I would like to thank Paul for his time with the Wild and wish him and his family the best in the future.”
Fenton only presided over two drafts as Wild GM, and only made it through one season where the team missed the playoffs. Instead of rebuilding, the team’s made a lot of player-for-player moves, with the Nino Niederreiter – Victor Rask trade being the signature disaster of Fenton’s short run. As much as any single move, a lot of people thought it was odd how Fenton described the game of risky free agent signing Mats Zuccarello.
[MORE: Will Wild learn from the failed Fenton era?]
“One of the top playmakers in the league, if you watch the way that he plays and dissects the offensive zone in particular … I told him when I was talking to him that he’s like a lizard, the way a lizard takes his tongue and sticks it as far as it does and retrieves what it was trying to do,” Fenton said.
No doubt about it, Fenton made mistakes in a bit more than a year as Wild GM, but he also inherited a significant mess from former Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, especially since Leipold shot down the idea of a rebuild.
Whether it’s Kurvers or someone else serving as GM, Fenton’s successor has some serious work to do, especially if the Wild’s owner still has the same, distorted vision of what’s best for this team.
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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.