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Continued: Q&A with Wild owner Craig Leipold: 'We're on the right course'

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO and CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: June 22, 2013 - 7:11 AM

Q: Are you concerned about Backstrom’s age or level of play?

A: We had unfortunate situations with our goaltending corps [Josh Harding’s two-month absence due to multiple sclerosis] and it caused us to really use Niklas a lot. I would say we probably played him too much at the end. … When you’re playing the last 20 games, that’s pretty tough, particularly when every game is so important and so stressful. But that’s just the way the situation was for us. Last year was not one of his best years and we think we may have overplayed him. But he’s a good goalie. … We are not uncomfortable with Niklas Backstrom as our No. 1 goalie.

 

Q: This will be Fletcher’s fifth year. When do you feel like this team needs to make a big jump?

A: I can only tell you right now absolutely that Chuck and Mike are our guys, they’re taking us into the future, and I feel really comfortable with both of them.

 

Q: Will you have another aggressive July?

A: I don’t know how we can. The cap situation certainly does limit us [the Wild has $6.2 million of cap space]. The moves that we made last summer were strategic and long-term. No one can make those kind of splashes unless they just like to make splashes.

 

Q: After squeaking into eighth place and losing in the first round, does it concern you now the price that was given up for Jason Pominville [acquired from Buffalo for Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, a first- and second-round pick]?

A: Now that we’re talking about the draft coming up, you’d sure like to have that No. 1 pick. But on the other hand, you just remember, we got Jason Pominville coming in. It’s expensive at the time. We went out and brought Jason in and unfortunately a real questionable hit by [Los Angeles’] Dustin Brown took him out for what was really the rest of the season. That’s just unfortunate because I think he could have been a great contributor in the playoffs.

 

Q: How important is it as an owner to show your team or your fan base a willingness to go for it?

A: It probably appears as if I’m always willing to take the team to the [salary] cap. The fact of the matter is we have a business and everything we did last summer were for two reasons: making the team better and completely changing the image that the Wild have in this market.

 

Q: What do you think the image was?

A: Complacent. That the team was getting complacent, that we weren’t building it fast enough. The prospects at the time, we think were good and as you recall, we were really selling that. But those prospects, that’s three years from now and it wasn’t going to be fast enough. So that’s the reason we made the big splash.

 

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