In June, the Columbus Blue Jackets promoted Bill Zito to senior vice president of hockey operations and associate general manager. It sounds like they don’t want to lose him from that position, as Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that the Minnesota Wild asked for permission to speak with Zito for their vacant GM position and were not granted it. Russo had previously reported the same regarding New York Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury.
Interestingly though, the Wild interviewed Zito for the job last summer before eventually going with Paul Fenton. Now that Fenton has been relieved of his duties just 14 months into his tenure, it seems as though they have missed their chance to hire the Columbus executive. Zito has been on the short list for several positions around the league over the last few years, including the Philadelphia Flyers job that eventually went to former Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and with the Seattle expansion team who eventually hired Ron Francis.
There’s good reason for the interest, as Zito has deep ties to the hockey world. Once one of the more powerful player agents in the league, Zito has experience negotiating contracts from both sides of the table. He has now been with the Blue Jackets since 2013, and took over as general manager of their AHL affiliate in 2015. In his first season running the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters the team won a Calder Cup. He also served as GM of Team USA at the 2018 World Championship, bringing home a bronze medal.
Don Waddell also obviously won’t be taking the Minnesota position after inking an extension with the Carolina Hurricanes today. Ron Hextall, Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald are among the candidates previously linked to the Wild.