Reusse: Owner Leipold hopes Wild keeps battling like beloved dog

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2014 - 7:14 AM
hide

Craig Leipold’s chocolate Lab, Stanley, who lost a leg to cancer.

Wild owner Craig Leipold and his wife, Helen Johnson-Leipold, have five dogs that have the run of the place at their home in Racine, Wis. There are two Chihuahuas, one of which is mellow (think Mikael Granlund) and the other is annoying (think Matt Cooke).

The other dogs include Stanley, a chocolate Lab.

“He’s our favorite, I have to admit,’’ Leipold said. “Stanley had his right front leg amputated because of cancer, but you can’t keep him down. He’s out there in the yard running around, chasing the other dogs, jumping over bushes.’’

Leipold laughed and said: “That dog’s amazing.’’

A year ago, the Wild and its television partner, Fox Sports North, broke out the worn “Fight to the End’’ as a theme for the playoffs. The Wild went away meekly in five games vs. Chicago in the first round.

The Wild made it through the first round this time in seven games vs. Colorado by offering the generic, “It’s Playoff Season.’’ Even with Tuesday night’s impressive 4-0 victory, I’m not sure that humdrum slogan can get it done for the Wild in this rematch with the defending champions from Chicago.

It’s decision time for the Wild on Friday night — win and be in this series for the long haul, or lose and be gone again in five — and I say FSN and local hockey zealots should break out a fresh hashtag: #battlelikestanley.

“I think our players already are doing that,’’ Leipold said. “That first-round series, coming back from being down 2-0 and then 3-2 in games, was nothing short of stunning. The euphoria of winning a playoff series … you can’t beat it.’’

Leipold had more reason to feel that way than the most hard-core of Wild fans. He bought his way into the NHL in 1997 as the owner of the Nashville Predators. The price tag was $80 million, and Leipold previously suggested the team lost $70 million in the decade that followed.

Leipold’s Preds had consecutive playoff appearances in 2004, ’06 and ’07, and went out in the first round. He sold the Predators in December 2007 and made a deal to buy the Wild a few weeks later, with partner Phil Falcone.

The NHL approved the new ownership as the Wild was getting ready to lose a first-round playoff series vs. Colorado in 2008. The Wild missed the playoffs over the next four seasons. The St. Paul gents then returned for the quick exit last spring.

This gave Leipold a total of 14 seasons as an NHL owner, with an 0-5 record in playoff series. If you put the Nashville investment at $150 million and add it to the $220 million paid for the Wild, you can understand the Leipold euphoria that came with the Game 7 victory in Denver.

The franchise purchases weren’t Leipold’s boldest financial moves in the NHL. That came on July 4, 2012, when he committed $196 million to sign the prized free agents of that summer, left winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.

Often, we’ve seen it written or said that the main motivation for this was Leipold’s extreme desire to win. That desire exists, to be sure, but I saw this dual signing as something else: an astute business decision.

“Absolutely, it was a business decision, and it has turned into an incredible decision for us,’’ Leipold said. “It has completely reversed all the trends. Ticket sales, sponsorships, merchandise … everything was trending in the wrong direction, and it had been for a number of years.

“To say signing Zach and Ryan was a shot in the arm understates the situation. Those signings immediately turned our franchise around.

“And it wasn’t just the community seeing our commitment. It was players all around the league looking at Minnesota and saying, ‘That franchise wants to win,’ and maybe wanting to be part of it some day.’’

The reaction of fans and corporations came so quickly that Leipold said, “At first, we were overwhelmed. We certainly thought it would be a positive for us, but we never envisioned the pop that occurred right away. It was fantastic.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 7:25 PM
Carolina
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 39 2nd Qtr 4:46
Orlando 37
Detroit 7:00 PM
Minnesota
New York 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Utah 7:30 PM
Dallas
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Boston 0 2nd Prd
Buffalo 0
Winnipeg 1 2nd Prd
New Jersey 0
Los Angeles 0 2nd Prd
Pittsburgh 2
Chicago 0 1st Prd 13:12
Ottawa 1
Philadelphia 0 1st Prd 10:55
Tampa Bay 1
Arizona 0 1st Prd 10:34
Florida 0
San Jose 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Anaheim 7:00 PM
St. Louis
NY Islanders 8:00 PM
Colorado
Montreal 9:00 PM
Vancouver
(2) Florida State 0 1st Qtr 6:41
Louisville 0
Troy 0 1st Qtr 3:51
Ga Southern 14
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) 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
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
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
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
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
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) 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
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 7:00 PM
Red Bull New York
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
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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