Lockout Day 18- Interview in “Wild Country” part 2


FEB 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen (7) takes a shot past Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski (21) in the third period at Xcel Energy Center. The Blue Jackets defeated the Wild 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday we started an interview with Derek Skykalo, editor of the fansided blog Gone Puck Wild which is the Minnesota Wild’s blog. Let’s continue down the path a bit….

Q–Derek, In the summer of 2011, the Wild was pretty active in making trades and acquiring a new head coach, Capping the trades was the acquisition of Danny Heatley. Were expectations pretty high for the 2011-2012 season, and how was the fan reaction to the results?

"The club competed for most of the season but in the end injuries took it’s toll on the Wild and it was another year with no playoffs.  Expectations were considerably higher as they should be anytime you add a former 50 goal scorer in Heatley. But his career low in points despite playing in all 82 games has fans wondering if Heatley has taken a step back since arriving in Minnesota and if he’s really comfortable with this organization.  If he has another year where he only produces 53 points while making $8 million per year, he could find himself as public enemy number one."

OK, Derek, I take back the politically correct statement, that’s pretty much laying it on the line.

And, Blue Jacket fans, does anyone remember the Blue Jackets “summer of 2011”? The acquisitions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski. Our hopes were pretty high also. In fact we fully expected to make the playoffs. And yet we went down the rabbit hole — [From Alice in Wonderland- a story that plays with logic]

And now a huge key set of questions, This past summer the Wild acquired 2 of the premier free agents, Z. Parise and R. Suter

Q– While the bidding and offers were going on, did your fans actually believe that the Wild would get one of these players or in fact both?

"One was certainly realistic given how the organization has confirmed with fans they are committed to winning, but to land both blew everyone away.  Talk about Christmas coming early for Wild fans, it was unbelievable.  When you look at the heavy hitters who are always active in the free-agent market (NYR, Philly, Detroit, LA) it was hard to fathom that a club like Minnesota would go after both let alone sign both.  But this sport has taught that anything is to expected and this further enforces that. Of course the Wild management found a major loophole by front end loading the contracts with both players set to receive a total of $4 million over the last three years of each deal."

Q– Why do you believe these 2 premier players ended up coming to the Wild?

"I think the primary reason was the contracts they both received at $98 million over 13 years.  Given their young age, both could be but it’s unlikely they will play the rest of their careers in Minnesota.  Money talks and for both Parise and Suter, why wouldn’t they sign to play in Minnesota for the next decade plus and make just short of $100 million in guaranteed money?  Parise is from Minneosta and Suter hails from Wisconsin making this a homecoming of sorts which certainly helped the Wild’s case in landing the two biggest fish of the off season.  But in the end, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise that is wasn’t about the money.  If the Florida Panthers had offered those two players the same contracts before Minnesota did it’s likely they both would be playing in the sunshine state."

Thanks again Derek, we’ll continue the interview on another day. Remember fans, if you have any questions please e-mail me, and well get Derek to comment. [and yes the  Wisniewski question is coming]