Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Leipold talks Latendresse, Fletcher, realignment on KFAN

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 7, 2011 - 2:19 PM

Afternoon, if you didn't hear this morning, Kevin Gorg -- while filling in for Paul Allen -- had a great interview with Wild owner Craig Leipold on KFAN. The full interview can be listened tohere.

In the first segment, Leipold and Gorg talked a lot about coach Mike Yeo and had a touching conversation about Derek Boogaard.

In the second segment, Leipold talked about Chuck Fletcher's guts as a GM, Cam Barker's buyout, Guillaume Latendresse's fitness and realignment. The second segment was gold.

The Latendresse stuff was great.

Here's some Leipold excerpts, and like I said, the full Leipold/Gorg interview on KFAN can be listened to by clicking the above link:

On Chuck Fletcher: “The status quo is not acceptable. … He’s not afraid to make a trade. He’s not afraid to make a trade. If you go back to the first year that he was here, … he traded Leddy for Barker. It was a mistake. He knows it was a mistake. He’s the first one to admit it. The scary part of someone making a mistake is that they’re afraid to do it again. He’s not afraid. He admitted it. He stepped up, made a mistake, ‘I learned from it, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to become conservative or I’m not going to look outside the box to make this team better. I’ll pull the trigger when its ready,’ and he does and you can see it. I respect that of Chuck a lot.”
 
Leipold talked a lot about his respect for Fletcher and what he's doing to right this franchise.
 
Also, great stuff on buying out Barker, so listen to the link.
 
On Latendresse: “Well, first of all, he came to camp out of shape. Let’s just call it like it is. He will not come into camp this year out of shape. That’s just the way it’s going to be. And he has a trainer that is working with him, I’ve been told, everyday. And I ask this question a lot because Latendresse is a very important part of our team. And the statement that he will make when he walks in the locker room when camp opens up in August, the statement that he makes when he walks in that room and he’s in shape is going to be a powerful statement of who he is, how hard he wants to win, how hard he wants to play. I know for a fact that our people are there, our people being from St. Paul are going to visit him almost every other week to make sure he is staying in his routine and staying in shape, eating right, everything else like that. So I feel good about Gui Latendresse next year.”
 
On realignment: Leipold confirms what I’ve been reporting, that realignment a year from now will likely be 4 divisions made up of 8 or 7 teams in each division. Leipold said the Wild’s division would include “the Winnipeg Jets, us, the Blues, the Nashville Predators, the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks and maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets – maybe not, depending on which way they would go East or West. So that’s the only team that would probably be up in the air. I am all in favor for that. That is a grand slam, home run, hat trick for our team.”
 
Russo talking: One team is missing, which is Detroit. So the 7th/8th teams would be Detroit and Columbus OR if there's only seven teams in the division, it would be Detroit OR Columbus -- depending on which of these teams move to the East. 
 

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