Souhan: Wild's déjà vu scenario does not bode well

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 1, 2012 - 12:30 PM

Like last year, the team is dealing with the distraction of an unhappy player, this time Marek Zidlicky.

hide

Wild's Marek Zidlicky

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The young coach, hand-picked by General Manager Chuck Fletcher, had rallied the Wild into playoff contention, earning praise all around the league.

His temporary success only served as a prelude to the greatest challenge to and of his career.

By the time the public had reacted to a surprising stretch of winning hockey, the Wild had stumbled, and franchise player Mikko Koivu had suffered a pivotal injury. Worse, a key player, a talented veteran from the Czech Republic, had revolted, and suddenly the affable young coach had to wonder how he was going to survive the season.

That's true today, in the wake of veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky complaining about his role under Mike Yeo on a day when the Wild blew a three-goal, third-period lead to lose 5-4 to Nashville at the X.

It was also true last winter, when Todd Richards rallied the Wild into playoff contention only to watch the team collapse down the stretch as Koivu broke down and a different talented Czech, Martin Havlat, ruined the locker room atmosphere with viral selfishness.

We know how the story ended last year. The Wild missed the playoffs, and Fletcher fired the first young coach he had hired, replacing Richards with Yeo.

Tuesday night, Yeo for the first time was forced to coach in an NHL game after being publicly challenged by a veteran. The results were not affirming.

"Everything that could have gone wrong today,'' Yeo said, "went wrong.''

For most of the game, the Wild, as usual, played better without Zidlicky on the ice. Then came one of the most gruesome collapses in franchise history, one that left the locker room all but empty after the game, and led to Yeo speaking in terms a bloodied boxer would recognize.

"If you've ever been punched in the stomach really hard,'' he said, "that's pretty much what that one feels like.''

As the Wild began its post-All-Star portion of the schedule, there were reasons for optimism amid the divisiveness. Two of the team's best players, Koivu and Gui Latendresse, are close to returning from injuries, and a two-game winning streak had moved the Wild into eighth place in the West.

Zidlicky, like Havlat, worried more about his statistics than team trends. Tuesday morning, Zidlicky told Star Tribune reporter Michael Russo that he was fed up with his lack of quality playing time and Yeo. Players aren't always wrong when they complain publicly about their lot. In this case, the player was very wrong.

Yeo has de-emphasized Zidlicky's role for good reason. Before Tuesday, the Wild was 12-3 in its previous 15 games without Zidlicky, and 2-10-4 in its previous 16 games with him in the lineup.

Now Fletcher has little choice but to trade Zidlicky, who has just damaged his trade value by complaining publicly. At this point, Fletcher would do well to rid himself of Zidlicky's contract, which has one year remaining at $4 million.

The good news for Fletcher is that there are teams all over the NHL looking for a guy who doesn't play well but at least knows how to whine.

Zidlicky is one of the Wild's more talented and experienced players. For most of the game on Tuesday, the Wild was winning, as it did earlier this season, despite its lack of talent.

No team in the playoff race should have a roster filled with anonymous players such as Warren Peters, Jed Ortmeyer and Chad Rau. This is a franchise trying to set the table for the next few years, when some of its elite prospects will begin making their way to the NHL. Any success this season would be premature, a testament to Yeo's influence and deep goaltending.

As the lead disappeared in the third period, Yeo's influence was as invisible as Josh Harding's glove. The Wild couldn't even salvage a point.

"We tightened up,'' defenseman Justin Falk said.

Zidlicky's complaints and an epic collapse did Yeo one favor: If he can drag this collapsing collection into the playoffs, he will again be a leading candidate for coach of the year.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is Souhanstrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - LP: B. Finnegan 4 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 11
Detroit 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
Montreal 3
New Jersey 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Dallas 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 7
Detroit 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Chicago 2 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Minnesota 7
Florida 1 FINAL(OT)
Arizona 2
Washington 3 FINAL
Calgary 1
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 FINAL
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 59 FINAL
Washington St 37
Texas-El Paso 34 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 31 FINAL
Colorado State 45
Syracuse 6 FINAL
(21) Clemson 16
Texas State 22 FINAL
ULM 18
(3) Ole Miss 7 FINAL
(24) LSU 10
(4) Alabama 34 FINAL
Tennessee 20
So Carolina 35 FINAL
(5) Auburn 42
(13) Ohio State 31 FINAL
Penn State 24
(20) USC 21 FINAL
(19) Utah 24
(14) Arizona State 24 FINAL
Washington 10
Nevada 26 4th Qtr 0:50
Hawaii 10
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 FINAL
New England 1
Portland 2 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Colorado 0 FINAL
Vancouver FC 1
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 28 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close