Scoggins: Wild a team of so many words, so few deeds

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 11, 2012 - 8:22 AM

"We weren't mentally prepared," a player said, and that part was obvious. Less clear: Why it happens and how it could.

hide

Newcomers Devin Setoguchi, left, and Dany Heatley haven't invigorated the Wild's offense this season as many had hoped.

Photo: Adrian Wyld, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Wild logo is stitched in the carpet in the center of the locker room. Wild players, particularly a few veterans, take delight in berating anyone who has the audacity to dip a toe over the line, on accident or even if the guilty party is unaware of the unwritten rule.

Here's an idea: Maybe players should show the same amount of professional pride in the logo they wear on their jerseys on the ice. That seems like a reasonable request given the team's two-month nosedive that reached a new low Thursday when coach Mike Yeo correctly acknowledged that his team "stinks" following an uninspired loss to Vancouver.

Having slept on it -- if he actually closed his eyes -- Yeo didn't express any regrets for his choice of words. But he didn't skate his players into puddles of sweat either. Instead, the Wild held a team meeting and off-ice workout and then delivered more promises to start playing better and showing more fight.

Frankly, the time for talk is over. This is about results. The same refrain filters out of the locker room on a daily basis. Every game is critical, this is their postseason, they're fighting for their playoff lives. Until the Wild actually plays like that every game, those words ring hollow.

Where's the desperation with this team? That's what made Devin Setoguchi's postgame quote so perplexing.

"We weren't mentally prepared to play the game," he said.

What? How's that even possible? The Wild just got outclassed by the worst team in the league two days earlier, was facing a heated rival at the start of the homestand and was clinging to the eighth spot in the Western Conference. Did the players need a formal invitation?

Veteran Matt Cullen described the lapses as "inexplicable," but truthfully, it's not hard to figure out at all. This team lacks high-end talent. Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley are good players, but who else? The Wild doesn't rank second-to-last in the NHL in scoring simply because of injuries and bad luck. That problem isn't fixed overnight, which is why the Wild has to fight, claw and scrap for everything.

On Friday, several players dismissed the notion that this team doesn't have enough skill or talent to play consistently at a high level, but what are they going to say? The roster is littered with minor leaguers who were pressed into action because of injuries and ineffectiveness. That's complicated by the fact veterans such as Setoguchi, Cullen and Nick Schultz have all but disappeared for long stretches. They aren't the only ones, either. That should be more concerning to team officials. If the veterans and supposed locker room leaders can't elevate their play in tough times and display some accountability, who do they turn to? Carson McMillan and Justin Falk?

The frustration that's engulfed this team stems from the fact that it played so well early in the season. Everything clicked and the question of effort hardly ever came up in conversation. That was a confident bunch.

It seems obvious now that the Wild played above its head in amassing the league's best record, but that stretch of solid play lasted long enough that it shouldn't be labeled a fluke. Something has happened to this team, and the players are running out of time and answers in trying to recapture whatever was working.

Yeo has tried every psychological ploy imaginable to help them regain their edge. He's been firm, and he's been understanding. He's ripped them publicly and praised how much they "care." He has skated them hard and given them days off. He avoided the locker room altogether Thursday night, which was probably a wise decision given his anger level.

The Wild has reached a tipping point. Yeo has expressed his frustration and anger at different times during the skid, but a coach saying his team "flat-out stinks" better get everyone's attention. The Wild faces last-place Columbus at home Saturday, and anything less than a victory and two points should compel owner Craig Leipold and General Manager Chuck Fletcher to do everything in their power to unload some of the dead weight from the roster and look to the future.

Yeo used a boxing analogy to describe the mindset he wants to see. Get in the ring and fight, he said.

Maybe he should take a stroll through the locker room and accidentally step on the logo. That always seems to get his players fired up.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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