Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Continued: Wild owner Leipold likes the nerve of GM Fletcher

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 22, 2014 - 11:17 PM

Pominville, whose five-year, $28 million extension starts in October, led the Wild with 30 goals in 2013-14.

• In Fletcher’s first draft, he dropped four spots in order to draft Nick Leddy, the Minnesota Mr. Hockey from Eden Prairie High and soon-to-be Gopher 16th overall, and picked up two draft picks that would become Hackett and Erik Haula. But less than a year later, Fletcher dealt Leddy and essentially the rest of Kim Johnsson’s contract to Chicago for former third overall pick Cam Barker.

“Little did we know, Barker … wasn’t as good as most people thought,” Leipold said, laughing hysterically at how kind he was trying to be. “That deal didn’t work out. You hope most of them turn out. This one, I would say, didn’t. So what? You move on.

“Now the good thing about Chuck is he didn’t become gun-shy. He was still ready and willing to pull the trigger and never said, ‘Oh my gosh, what if this becomes another Leddy deal?’ He’s like a goaltender. Goal goes in, you forget about the goal and move on to the next shot.”

Fletcher said “that trade was flawed on a couple different levels and actually goes against my philosophy. I take full responsibility for that trade. That was me. That was a classic case of trying to force something that didn’t need to be forced.

“But there was no reason to become conservative after that. You just have to learn from it.”

Sixteen months later, Barker was bought out.

“There’s some misses along the way,” Fletcher said. “There’s risk in everything, but if you don’t make moves in this business, your franchise is never going to get better.”

Taking chances

There were also risks associated with hiring rookie coaches. Fletcher’s first coach, Todd Richards, was fired in 2011 and replaced by Mike Yeo.

“I really challenged him on that one,” Leipold said, “but he loved Mike and looked at our team and Mike’s strength of working with and developing younger players. He had that much confidence that he was willing to bring in Mike knowing it was the biggest decision he had [to that point].”

In Fletcher’s first interview with the owner, he told Leipold how important draft and development would be before delving deep into the free-agent market. In addition to the draft, Fletcher wanted to be aggressive in the college, European and junior free-agent markets. The Wild has found players from Jared Spurgeon to Justin Fontaine.

The hope is every now and then you get lucky by finding a sleeper to supplement the draft picks selected by what Fletcher calls “our excellent scouts.”

“And the picks we’ve had, most of them have worked out,” Leipold said. “That in itself is huge. Go back the years before [Fletcher], we had a lot of misses. It was terrible. It was a dry time, and we were quickly able to turn that around.”

Three regulars last season — Mikko Koivu, Marco Scandella and Clayton Stoner — were drafted by the Wild before Fletcher’s arrival.

Winning mix

After missing the playoffs in 2012, Fletcher vowed the Wild wasn’t far from “turning the corner very quickly.” He pinpointed one final hurdle: “We have not been able to convince a top player to come here yet,” he said.

A couple of months later, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed identical 13-year, $98 million deals. Fletcher “assured” Leipold it would work because of the young kids coming down the pike.

  • related content

  • Wild opens Oct. 9 vs. Colorado; no outdoor game in 2014-15

    Saturday June 21, 2014

    The NHL's schedule is expected to be announced Sunday

  • NBA, NHL drafts at-a-glance

    Sunday June 22, 2014

    NBA DraftWhen: 6 p.m. ThursdayWhere: New YorkTop five picks: Cleveland, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Orlando, UtahTop prospects: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas;...

  • Wild owner Craig Leipold, left, talks with Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher in the first round of the National Hockey League draft Friday June, 24, 2011 in St. Paul. This year's draft is Friday.

  • Chuck Fletcher has remained bold, even with a few misses.

  • Scouts balked at giving Buffalo a No. 1 draft pick for Jason Pominville last year, but he wound up leading the Wild with 30 goals this past season.

  • NHL DRAFT AT A GLANCE

    When: 6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday

    Where: Philadelphia

    Top five picks: Buffalo, Edmonton, Florida, Calgary, N.Y. Islanders

    Top prospects: Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay (WHL); Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie (OHL); Sam Bennett, LW, Kingston (OHL)

    Wild’s first round pick: 18th

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
New England 14 FINAL
Kansas City 41
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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