Benched Zidlicky: 'I can't be quiet'

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2012 - 11:03 PM

The struggling defenseman, scratched for a third consecutive game, might waive his no-trade clause. Coach Mike Yeo didn't like his public stance.

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Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky isn't happy that he has been benched.

Photo: Andy King, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Two trade deadlines after the Wild signed defenseman Marek Zidlicky to a three-year contract extension, the Wild might now look to trade Zidlicky before this year's Feb. 27 deadline.

The Wild has an unhappy veteran on its hands.

Zidlicky was a healthy scratch for a third game in a row Tuesday night, and in a bruise to his pride, it came against his former team, the Nashville Predators. During an unsolicited interview after Tuesday's morning skate, Zidlicky said he would consider waiving his no-trade clause if he continues not to play.

Zidlicky, who had a long, animated conversation with Mike Yeo on the ice in November, said he has butted heads with the coach over his high-risk, high-reward style and can't simply change at 34 years old.

"I can't be quiet," said Zidlicky, who turns 35 Friday. "If I would be a healthy scratch, if it helped the team, that's good. I will not cry. I will not tell him he's wrong. But if he doesn't want to play me again, again, I have to do something."

Yeo wasn't pleased Zidlicky aired his grievances publicly.

"One thing for sure, we're going to talk," Yeo said an hour before Tuesday's game. "This is not the right way to handle it."

Yeo said he never has asked Zidlicky to change his game, but when he says he can't, "It speaks to the buy-in. ... I want them to be themselves, to play their game, but to do it within the team concept.

"There are very, very clear expectations for every player."

Zidlicky, who has scored 60 goals and 235 assists in 541 career games, has no goals and 11 assists in 34 games this season. He is minus-9 his past 13 games. He was pulled after being minus-5 in losses at Philadelphia and Toronto. Prior to Tuesday, the Wild was 12-3 in the past 15 games Zidlicky didn't play, 2-10-4 in the past 16 games he played.

But Zidlicky complained that many of his shifts come with the third and fourth lines, so, "if you spend most [of the] time in our zone, you can't do anything." He said he has twice offered Yeo personnel and schematic opinions regarding the Wild's 23rd-ranked power play.

"First time he said it's not my business, second time, he said it's something different," Zidlicky said. "If he got bad power play, he's the head coach. I respect that."

Yeo said Zidlicky never offered schematic ideas and he told him to worry about his own play, not others.

Zidlicky said Yeo told him, "Everything I do with the puck and without the puck, it's wrong. I have a little different opinion. ... I can't change my style. That's what I know. That's for sure. He wants to play easy hockey. I tried everything what he wants, but apparently it doesn't work."

General Manager Chuck Fletcher met with Zidlicky on Tuesday "about his status on the team, but I'd prefer to keep the contents of the conversation private."

There's no doubt Fletcher will investigate trading Zidlicky. If he finds a fit, Zidlicky can then decide whether to lift a no-trade, no-move clause that runs through the June 22-23 draft.

"That's, that's the option," Zidlicky said. "That's only what I'm thinking right now because I still love hockey. That's my whole life. Every player likes hockey and nobody likes to be healthy scratch three games, four games.

"It doesn't help yourself, it doesn't help your team, it doesn't help anybody. I'm just thinking it's pretty tough right now for me. My son, he's in first grade and he needs both parents here. I don't want to be selfish, go somewhere and I will be happy and leave my son here in the school. So, we will see.

"[Yeo] told you guys he knows I can be better. But if I'm going to keep being a healthy scratch, I can't be better. Every player needs to play to be better."

Yeo said "players decide" if they play.

"You think he would be out of the lineup today if he was playing really well?" Yeo said. "His play dictates that, how he handles this dictates that. Greg Zanon decided how he was going to get back in the lineup [after being scratched in seven of 15 games]. He had a great, great attitude. ... Players decide."

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