Resetting the Minnesota Wild
Recently, the Minnesota Wild displayed an example of hitting the reset button. They fired their general manager, Paul Fenton, a move that was shocking, not because it was a poor decision, but because of its timing. NHL teams don’t fire their GMs at the end of July and especially not after one just season. However, Wild owner Craig Leipold decided enough was enough and decided…
It was time for a RESET!
The entirety of the reasoning behind the firing of Paul Fenton may never be known, but there are a few things we do know.
First of all, the fans hated the moves he made. The first draft of this blog post detailed all of his questionable moves, but the point of this post is not an in-depth look at the disaster that was Paul Fenton’s tenure with the Wild.
Fenton’s behavior during his tenure with the Wild can best be described as bizarre. Upon signing Mats Zuccarello, he compare his new winger to the tongue of a lizard which led to mocking on the internet. He spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how information about his front office moves and discussions were being reported by Michael Russo of The Athletic (who deserves a shoutout because most of my Minnesota Wild knowledge is due to his stellar reporting). Fenton just could not accept that Russo is quite one of the best (possible the best) beat writer in all of sports media. He also spent most of the offseason in Martha’s Vineyard and not in Minnesota. Leipold could not even fire him in person because Fenton would not come in for a meeting.
Lastly, Fenton just seemed like a jerk. During his introductory press conference, he seemed combative with the media. He was not well liked by most of his staff because of a combative attitude and only trusting a few people. In Minnesota, you just don't do stuff like that.
The Minnesota Wild’s Who
Craig Leipold and team President Matt Majka have tried to build a specific culture in the Minnesota Wild organization. The dissension and mistrust that had been sewn throughout the locker room and front office of the Wild organization was the antithesis of what Leipold and Majka have been trying to build. They pride themselves on having a great community in Minnesota. Fenton’s lack of a fit with that culture is ultimately what led to his firing.
In hiring a new GM, the Wild knew they needed to bring in a “hockey guy.” In the hiring process that resulted in Paul Fenton getting the job, Leipold and Majka did not have someone with extensive hockey experience. However, since then, Leipold has hired Mike Madano to be an executive advisor. He was instrumental in the hiring process that led to the naming of Bill Guerin as the new general manager of the Minnesota Wild. Guerin, too, is a “hockey guy,” having won the Stanley Cup four times, twice as a player and twice as an executive with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Guerin’s tenure is off to a good start so far. He has named re-signing defenseman Jared Spurgeon his top priority. This Minnesota Wild fan is hoping this is the first of many great things to come from General Manager Bill Guerin.