Minnesota Hockey Journal

October 2019

Issue link: https://read.uberflip.com/i/1171526

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Page 27 of 31

M H J O N L I N E . C O M | O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 28 by Michael Russo Russo's Rants P R E S E N T E D B Y Photos / Tom Sellwood, Minnesota Wild/Bruce Kluckhohn A young 48, Guerin is less than a decade removed from a successful playing career that included more than 1,000 games, more than 400 goals and four Stanley Cups—two as a player, two as a Pittsburgh Penguins executive. He brings instant credibility to the team and is immensely respected throughout the NHL. Being hired in late August, there's not much Guerin can do right now in terms of changing up the roster, so he'll take his time, analyze what he's got and then begin to make moves to help improve the team he hopes to lead for a long, long time. The Roster This is a very different looking team than last year at this time. Gone are Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle. Here are Kevin Fiala, Ryan Donato, Victor Rask and Brad Hunt. But Guerin feels there's a real solid base and foundation, and if the team can get internal improvement from young guys like Fiala and Luke Kunin and some of the older guys like Eric Staal and Jason Zucker, stay healthy and come together in the locker room, they have the makings of a good team. Last season, the Wild's year really derailed in mid-December when defense- man Matt Dumba, who led all NHL blue liners with 12 goals, was lost for the sea- son with a torn pectoral muscle. That was compounded six weeks later when captain Mikko Koivu sustained a season-ending knee injury. Both are back. Recipe for a Rebound What will it take for the Wild to bounce back from an injury-riddled season? 2019-20 SE A SON PRE V IE W o, let's just say the Minnesota Wild had a bit of an unusual offseason. As they say in sports, you're hired to be fired, and gen- eral managers lose their jobs all the time. But it's completely abnormal for a GM to receive his pink slip 3 ½ months into the offseason and even more unheard of for that to happen before that GM enters his second season as the boss. But Wild owner Craig Leipold finally felt compelled to pull the plug on Paul Fenton after one tumultuous season as the team's GM. Leipold repaired his mistake by hiring Bill Guerin, who merely in the likeability department will be an improvement over his predecessor. S Mikko Koivu is expected to return after a season-ending knee injury.

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