The owner reaffirmed his faith in Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo.
Craig Leipold knew the stars needed to align if the Wild was going to upset the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL playoffs.
So imagine his reaction when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who was sitting in the Wild owner’s suite, informed Leipold that goalie Niklas Backstrom was injured during warmups before Game 1.
“I go, ‘What are you talking about?’ ” Leipold recalled. “He said, ‘Look at the TV.’ ”
Leipold turned and saw Backstrom being assisted to the bench. He immediately sent a text message to General Manager Chuck Fletcher.
“We were going to rely heavily on Niklas Backstrom, and he’s out for the series 10 minutes before the puck drops?” Leipold said. “That’s kind of an unfortunate event.”
A series in which Leipold felt “bad karma going into it” ended in five games. While the Wild returned to the postseason after a four-year absence, the ending left Leipold, who invested $198 million into signing free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last summer, feeling a “little empty.”
As the Wild prepares for the June 30 draft, Leipold talked about his team’s season and its future.
Q: Now that you’ve had time to reflect, how do you look back on it?
A: I would say success. Clearly moved forward, got better [but] feel a little empty. I feel like we didn’t accomplish what I thought we had the ability to do. We made the playoffs and that’s great. But there’s a feeling like we didn’t quite get to the next level.
Q: Why did you decide to retain Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo?
A: Because I absolutely think we’re on the right course. Everything that is happening in the locker room is really positive. Yeah, there are some changes that we’ll probably look at for next year and that’s good, because we need to get better. But I think all the players are still excited about the direction that we’re going.
Q: You mentioned that empty feeling. Does that come from the financial commitment you made?
A: The business side, we were great. Yes, the lockout cost us money. It cost every team money in the short term. Going forward, we’re going to be seeing the benefits of that financial investment. The lockout was costly for the first year, but the ticket sales were incredible. The sponsors came back in droves. So we feel good about that and we achieved all our business objectives.
|Washington||1||Bottom 1st Inning|
|Philadelphia||1||Top 2nd Inning|
|St. Louis||0||Bottom 1st Inning|
|Baltimore||0||Top 2nd Inning|
|Boston||0||Bottom 1st Inning|
|Minnesota||1||Bottom 1st Inning|
|Tampa Bay||0||Top 2nd Inning|
|Los Angeles||3:05 PM|
|LA Angels||3:05 PM|
|NY Mets||6:05 PM|
|LA Lakers||7:30 PM|
|LA Clippers||8:00 PM|
|San Jose||6:00 PM|
|New Jersey||6:30 PM|
|NY Rangers||7:00 PM|
|Illinois||44||2nd Half 11:16|
|St Bonaventure||45||2nd Half 11:59|
|Florida State||33||2nd Half 15:41|
|Missouri||13||1st Half 11:24|
|Ohio State||1:25 PM|
|South Carolina||2:25 PM|
|Alabama State||2:30 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||3:00 PM|
|Northwestern St||5:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|Norfolk State||5:00 PM|
|Southern Miss||5:30 PM|
|Portland State||5:30 PM|
|Ark-Little Rock||6:00 PM|
|Iowa State||6:00 PM|
|Seton Hall||6:00 PM|
|NC State||6:00 PM|
|Coppin State||7:00 PM|
|Sam Houston St||7:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|Northern Colorado||8:00 PM|
|Utah Valley U|
|Ole Miss||8:25 PM|
|Prairie View||8:30 PM|
|Cal Poly||8:30 PM|
|Boise State||10:30 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Long Beach State|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||64|
|Nicholls||50||2nd Half 6:31|
|UNC-Wilmington||39||2nd Half 7:21|
|Ball State||48||2nd Half 11:15|
|(25) Bowling Green||38|
|Savannah State||31||2nd Half 11:10|
|Texas State||13||1st Half 9:25|
|Jackson State||12||1st Half 10:50|
|Loyola-Chicago||11||1st Half 11:48|
|Texas-El Paso||12:30 PM|
|McNeese State||1:30 PM|
|Coppin State||1:30 PM|
|New Mexico St||2:00 PM|
|Ark-Little Rock||2:30 PM|
|Idaho State||5:00 PM|
|Youngstown St||5:00 PM|
|Prairie View||6:00 PM|
|Missouri State||6:07 PM|
|Coll of Charleston|
|Illinois State||8:37 PM|