The NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and former general manager Sam Hinkie became famous — or infamous, if you prefer — for their three-word description for a long, painful rebuilding project: Trust the Process.
The 76ers purposely bottomed out with three miserable seasons — including a 10-72 clunker in 2015-16 — but accumulated enough good players to reach the second round of the playoffs this year. That was a rebuild, a teardown, a gutting.
Wild owner Craig Leipold, in both firing Chuck Fletcher last month and in introducing new general manager Paul Fenton on Tuesday, made it clear that he is not interest in a wholesale rebuild.
Instead, Leipold and Fenton unleashed a new phrase on the sporting public at Tuesday’s news conference: Tweak the Process.
In his introductory remarks, Fenton used those key words, saying: “I’ve been brought here to tweak this process,” adding that the goal of those tweaks is to win a Stanley Cup and not just advance to the second round as the 76ers did and the Wild have topped out at in their six consecutive playoff appearances.
Leipold reinforced that with this: “This is not a rebuild, this is a tweak.”
What tweaks, exactly? Fenton wouldn’t say, preferring to confer with others in the Wild organization first. “I’ve told Craig the possibilities of different tweaks we can make,” he said.
Fenton went with a variation on the theme when talking about the roster a little later. “It obviously doesn’t need to be overhauled,” he said, adding that he’s looking for the “finishing touches that help us win.”
Then again, when asked about Nashville’s history of aggressive trades while he was assistant GM there, and whether he will bring that mentality to the Wild, Fenton said he thinks he will be aggressive.
“I like to think outside the box,” he said. “I’ll look at small trades. I’ll look at big trades. Whatever is going to make this organization better going forward.”
Hmmm. So maybe like some small tweaks and big tweaks. Maybe a lot of them.
I asked Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau if he was relieved that this won’t be a roster rebuild but rather a “tweak,” as his bosses called it. Boudreau’s answer was enlightening in that it led me to this conclusion:
Maybe rebuilding and tweaking are distinctions without a real difference, at least when it comes to the Wild’s situation.
“You know what, it’s taking a different course. I guess Vegas was rebuilding all year and it looked OK to them. Challenges are great. I was lucky enough when I took over two teams rebuilding and we did good,” Boudreau said. “There are a lot of good players out there. Tweaks, adding players. We added nine players last year in a non-rebuild. I think there were 11 the year before. Maybe those numbers are reversed. But there are always going to be new players in and new players out. You just hope the new players in are better fits than the players that just left.”
Sorry, Bruce. Tweak the Process fits better on a T-shirt.
Print them. Sell them. Let’s see what happens.