Zidlicky wants out, but the Devil's in the details

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 16, 2012 - 12:06 PM

The defenseman waived his no-trade clause with New Jersey in mind, but Wild GM Chuck Fletcher hasn't asked for such a move.

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Struggling defenseman Marek Zidlicky (right) has asked to be traded and appears to have tried to force the Wild’s hand.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Marek Zidlicky appears to want off the sinking ship.

Two weeks after the Wild defenseman complained publicly about being scratched, his agent said that Zidlicky has waived his no-trade clause to go to the New Jersey Devils.

The problem: Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher, as of late Wednesday, had not approached Zidlicky to waive his no-trade to go to any specific team.

"I can tell you for sure I'm planning on talking to other teams," Fletcher said. "We haven't traded Zid, we haven't made the decision to trade Zid at this point. I have not formally asked him to do anything because at this point I honestly don't have anything to take to him, I don't have anything for him to say yes or no to."

Fletcher confirmed for the first time Wednesday that moments after Zidlicky voiced his displeasure to the Star Tribune on Jan. 31 because he was being scratched in the third of what would become four consecutive games, Zidlicky asked to be traded.

On that day, Fletcher had general conversations with agent Larry Kelly regarding for which teams Zidlicky, 35, would want to play. Fletcher did not yet know if those teams even would have interest.

"I said, 'You've got to work with me, because I don't want to go down a path and then have you slam the door on me,'" Fletcher said.

It appears Zidlicky, who has no goals and 13 assists in 39 games, wants out so badly that he is trying to force Fletcher's hand by having his agent going public with his New Jersey wish.

Asked after Wednesday's practice if he wants off the Wild, which is 5-16-5 since Dec. 13, Zidlicky said: "Give me a couple days. That's tough to say right now." Asked if he wants to play in New Jersey, Zidlicky said: "We'll see. I'm still here."

Fletcher said he won't be boxed into one team and there are others expressing interest, ones he believes for whom Zidlicky would want to play. That might include Chicago, Philadelphia, Florida and the New York Rangers.

Fletcher also said he hasn't decided yet whether he'll trade Zidlicky by the Feb. 27 deadline. The Wild could hang onto Zidlicky until summer, when his full no-trade becomes limited and he must supply a list of teams for whom he will not play.

"Then I have more options and there's more money in the system," said Fletcher, referring to the remaining year on Zidlicky's contract at $4 million. "Maybe he's here next trade deadline and we're having this same conversation.

"There's a lot of different scenarios I'm contemplating at this point, a lot of floating concepts."

Still, if Zidlicky doesn't want to be in Minnesota, it must be awkward to still have him around.

"We want people that want to go to war for each other, that's for sure," said coach Mike Yeo, adding generally, "We have to believe in ourselves, and we have to play for each other, we have to stick together and we have to want to fight through this together. So we need everybody all in for that."

Asked if Zidlicky is "all in," Yeo paused, then said: "Well, I haven't had a chance to talk to him today. ... His play the last three games hasn't shown me he's not all in, but we have to have a face-to-face chat."

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello declined comment, but one factor in Zidlicky's desire to go to the Devils is his relationship with veteran winger and Czech countryman Patrik Elias. The two have been friends since they were teenagers.

"He's a good player," Elias told the Bergen (N.J.) Record. "You look back, not this year, but last year and the year before, offensively he's really good, I think. He's a righty [shot]. He's got great hockey sense. He plays mean, too, when he wants to.

"But, all that said, he's not here, yet."

Asked about Zidlicky's unhappiness in Minnesota, Elias said, "We all go through it at certain points in our career."

Meanwhile, the Wild went back to work Wednesday in hopes of ending a five-losing streak Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. The Wild has fallen to 12th in the Western Conference.

"Outside of our locker room, there's not a person in the world that probably thinks we're going to make the playoffs, so let's use that," Yeo said. "So let's go into these games and play like we have nothing to lose. Play without the fear, and that can be pretty dangerous."

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