ST. LOUIS - Four days after sending defenseman Marco Scandella to the minors to get his confidence back, the Wild is attempting to do the same with struggling forward Colton Gillies.
Scandella didn't require waivers to get to Houston. Gillies does -- a risk the Wild was willing to take Friday because "the status quo" wasn't good enough anymore, General Manager Chuck Fletcher said.
With the downtrodden Wild getting to the point where a shakeup may be necessary and with Fletcher calling Thursday's loss at Chicago "incredibly disappointing" and with coach Mike Yeo still "fired up," the only move heading into Saturday's game at St. Louis was giving the boot to Gillies, who didn't even play against the Blackhawks.
Gillies, so good during the Aeros' run to the Calder Cup Finals last year that he was awarded a two-year, one-way, $1.25 million contract, has no goals and two assists in 37 games. He has played a fourth-line role all season.
"There's probably not many bigger fans of Colton Gillies than myself because I've seen what that guy can do," Yeo said. "He's gone to war for me and for our organization, so it's not an easy thing.
"But the big picture and for his future, he needs to play. To be out of the lineup right now and then play five, six minutes in a game, his confidence is not going to turn around. He's got to play significant minutes and play an important role."
The question is whether Gillies gets to Houston. Another team can claim Gillies at 11 a.m. Saturday, and he could be enticing. He's a 2007 first-round pick. He's 22. He's 6-4. And, as Fletcher said: "He's a great kid. He works so hard."
"Somebody could claim him, and that's the risk we're taking," Fletcher said. "But the status quo wasn't accomplishing what anybody needed to get accomplished. We needed to change it up for him and give him a chance to get his game going."In a battling mood
As Fletcher spoke from the stands at Scottrade Center, the Wild was busy trucking through one of its most intense practices of the season 20 rows below.
Players battled, players skated. Cal Clutterbuck took his frustration out on his stick in a loud, animated way on the corner boards.
"I was counting on that nobody would be in a real good mood out there. We shouldn't be," Yeo said.
Yeo was still upset about Thursday's 5-2 loss -- a game that dropped the Wild to 2-9-3 in its past 14 overall and 0-7-1 in its past eight on the road. Fletcher also heated up as he talked more about the game.
"We weren't prepared to play the game the right way. We weren't emotionally engaged. The onus has got to be on our veteran players to be prepared to play, and I didn't feel we were," Fletcher said.
Fletcher has seen the Wild play well this season and is convinced it can return to that level. The question is how long he can wait. A Wild loss to the red-hot Blues Saturday and a Dallas win would kick the Wild out of the top eight in the West.
"There's lots of phone calls, and if something makes sense, we'll do it," he said. "I want to do everything I can to give this team a chance to be successful. But after a game like [Thursday], when you have 12, 15 players not going, one transaction isn't going to change a whole bunch.
"Obviously, there's areas where we could probably upgrade. ... But a game like [Thursday], you can make 15 trades. Right now, I really think a lot of the solutions are right here."Lineup tinkering
Nick Johnson was on the second line and Casey Wellman bumped to the fourth in Friday's practice. Yeo said there's a "very good chance" defenseman Mike Lundin will play for a second time in 11 games.
Matt Hackett might start in goal.
"I'm emotional right now, so once I have some time to let my emotions calm down and maybe drink a glass of wine tonight, then maybe I'll be a little bit more logical, but that's what I'm looking at right now," Yeo said of his lineup decisions.