Wild faces complicated offseason issues after playoff exit

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 15, 2014 - 9:56 AM
hide

Ilya Bryzgalov is just one part of a complex situation in net.

Photo: carlos gonzalezStar Tribune,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

The sun rose Wednesday, and it was instantly apparent the Wild’s season indeed ended hours earlier. There was no practice, no flight to Chicago, no team meal, no work to do to prepare for a Game 7 that could propel the franchise into the second conference final in Wild history.

The roller coaster of a season stopped suddenly when that puck off a partition found the blade of big-game star Patrick Kane.

“Our guys did everything that we asked and they laid it on the line, and that’s what hurts,” coach Mike Yeo said after the Wild’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Game 6. “That’s what’s hard.”

No doubt, the loss and season’s completion stung everybody involved. But after Yeo and General Manager Chuck Fletcher decompress, they’ll prepare for next season.

Yes, Yeo. His contract expires with the rest of the coaching staff’s on June 30, but Yeo is expected to stay on. A conversation with Fletcher hadn’t occurred by Wednesday afternoon, but he is expected to meet with Yeo about a multiyear contract extension.

The Wild earned a lot of respect this postseason by upsetting Central Division champion Colorado and going toe-to-toe with the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.

The team has a solid foundation. There’s a strong corps of leaders, demonstrated when Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter took charge during an off-day in Arizona in March when the season was on the precipice. They met with every player individually and subsequently held an all-hands-on-deck team meeting before the Wild reeled off a 6-0-1 run to save its season.

The youngsters performed admirably. Mikael Granlund had a breakthrough regular season and Nino Niederreiter a breakthrough postseason. Charlie Coyle was a thoroughbred down the stretch and in the first round before courageously playing with two separated shoulders in the second round. Erik Haula came of age this postseason, too.

Experienced but young defensemen Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon took their games to new levels, and despite season-long ups and downs, mobile blue-liner Jonas Brodin reminded us on Tuesday just how much the 20-year-old makes the Wild’s transition game motor.

Maybe the most impressive thing Yeo and his staff achieved this year was helping the Wild manage through a never-ending goaltending carousel.

The Wild had four goalies hold the No. 1 role at different times. Niklas Backstrom never was healthy, but Josh Harding, Darcy Kuemper and Ilya Bryzgalov all performed solidly. The common denominator? All three were protected impressively by the players in front of them executing Yeo’s defensive structure and game plan.

There is no simple solution as to how to fix this goaltending quandary, so this must be priority No. 1 for Fletcher during an offseason that could be complicated.

Yeo supported

As fun as it was to watch the Wild grow down the stretch, the same could be said for Yeo, the NHL’s youngest coach at age 40. Around Jan. 1, he appeared inches from the chopping block. But Yeo helped lift the Wild out of a six-game losing streak, going 14-4-2 during a juncture when in part Parise, Koivu, Spurgeon and Harding were all sidelined at the same time.

The Wild secured the top wild-card spot in the West, rallied from 0-2 and 2-3 deficits in the first round to beat Colorado and again tried to pull it off in the second round against Chicago after falling down 0-2.

“There were times where the wheels could’ve come off and [Yeo] kept it together,” Suter said Tuesday night.

Goalie instability

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close