Though they’ve been to the playoffs for six consecutive seasons, the Minnesota Wild are headed in a new direction. The team recently announced that they would not bring back GM Chuck Fletcher, instead looking for a new voice to try and lead them deeper into the postseason and to a Stanley Cup final for the first time in their history.
Today, Wild owner Craig Leipold penned a letter to Minnesota fans explaining his decision to let Fletcher go and where the team will be headed from here (via Michael Russo of The Athletic).
On Monday, I made the difficult decision that Chuck Fletcher would not return as General Manager of our hockey club. In thinking about this significant change, it was very important to me that you, as a member of our Season Ticket Community and someone who is invested in our success, hear directly from me about the future of the Wild.
I’m confident about this: you and I share a passion to bring the Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey. And the responsibility for getting us there starts with me.
Chuck built our club into a perennial playoff contender. And that is no easy task in itself. Only two other clubs in the League have matched our six straight years in the post season. But it became apparent to me that while we were close, our “good” wasn’t good enough anymore. And I feel that it is going to take a new set of eyes, and some new thinking about our roster, to assess things and take the steps necessary to get us to the next level.
I’m not looking for a rebuild. I’m not patient enough for that and you should not be either. And our situation does not require tearing things down and starting over. We’re not far from being the team we all believe can deliver a Stanley Cup. As I have in the past, I’ll continue to give the necessary resources to our new GM, resources intended to remake the Wild from a “good” playoff contender to a “great” Stanley Cup championship contender. That’s why I’m in this…nothing less.
The Wild have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for three consecutive years, which lends credence to the idea that the team is just “good.” What is difficult for any GM, new or old, is pushing the team past that level and into real contention. Leipold obviously believes it is possible without sweeping changes to the roster, but one should expect at least some adjustments to come this summer.
Whoever is installed in the Minnesota front office have some tough decisions to make, and two huge contracts to negotiate. Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba are both restricted free agents, and are coming off their best seasons as professionals.