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Twins win, Wild hires coach, Wolves make sense...

  • Blog Post by: Jim Souhan
  • June 16, 2011 - 5:42 PM

Amazing how our quiet, borderline-depressing sports scene continues to make news. A month ago, I feared a summer in which the Twins were irrelevant and the NFL was dormant.

Now I expect the Twins to play meaningful games all season, the NFL to start on time, and the Wolves to be much more interesting by this fall.

The Wild?

I'm not sure what they're thinking.

They pushed Jacques Lemaire out. Lemaire's message may have gotten old, but he's a hockey genius. They replaced him with Todd Richards. Fine, you went with a young coach and planned to be patient while he developed. But then you fired him after two years, probably just as he was adapting fully to the job.

And then you went looking for a veteran coach. Craig MacTavish? Sounds good. Ken Hitchcock? Love it.

Mike Yeo?

Really?

Now, I'm not predicting that Yeo will fail. Maybe he'll be a great coach, and Chuck Fletcher has made a brilliant, insightful, move. That wouldn't be shocking.

But this is a strange progression, from veteran brilliant coach to long shot to...long shot.

Because what Fletcher doesn't know about Yeo is exactly what he didn't know about Richards - how he would react to the pressure, the speed, and the players of the NHL.

This smells like a money-saving move. Yeo is thrilled to have the job. MacTavish and Hitchcock would have wanted money and influence. For a franchise needing credibility and a way to keep fans interested, this is a puzzling move.

Whatever the Wolves' problems, they may be close to passing the Wild in terms of intrigue and watchability.

-Wolves' exec Tony Ronzone told our Jerry Zgoda and other reporters today that the Wolves plan to hold onto the No. 2 pick and take the best player available. That is exactly the right approach. Derrick Williams is the right choice at No. 2. He might be talented enough to make Ricky Rubio look good.

After speaking with a few people around the NBA, I believe that if the Wolves take Williams, they'll need to trade Michael Beasley. Beasley is a nice enough guy, and he can score, but he doesn't play defense and doesn't get his points in a structured, reliable, way. You don't want Williams having to share shots with him. Williams could become a star.

-I'm rooting for Rory McIlroy. Golf needs a magnetic, charismatic, brilliantly-talented star to capture the imagination. Martin Kaymer doesn't cut it. And Phil Mickelson looks like he'll never win another major.

-Joe Mauer spoke today. He looked lean and tanned, and he handled the tougher questions very well.

He was asked about people who have criticized him for an unwillingness to play hurt. He called the critics, ``Misinformed.'' That's a logical response, but what he should know is that his slow recovery created critics not just in the media, but throughout his organization and in his clubhouse and among former players.

The percentage of Twins' employees rolling their eyes about Mauer's timetable was about the same as the percentage of fans screaming about him.

-Wrote my Friday column on the Twins' latest improbable victory, and Ozzie Guillen's latest nickname for their lineup. I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 Friday.

-My prayers go out to E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who is recovering from a stroke. I listened to a bunch of hair bands with my high school buddies until one day we were driving around, and this sax break played over the radio, interrupting a song featuring lyrics about life, and death, and redemption, and I could never listen to Styx again.

Clarence played that sax, and as much as I love Springsteen, the best moments of his glorious concerts always feature Clemons, as soloist or foil. I stopped listening to ``Jungleland'' years ago...except for Clemons' amazing, emotive, expressive solo, during which, in concert, Springsteen always walks around the stage, pumping his fist, leading cheers for the Big Man. As it should be, and I hope someday will be again.

 

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