Lockout Day 19- Interview in “Wild Country” part 3


FEB 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Devin Setoguchi (10) and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski (21) scramble for position as Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason (1) stops a shot in the first period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

We’ve started an interview with Derek Skykalo, editor of the fansided blog Gone Puck Wild which is the Minnesota Wild’s blog. This is part 3.

[7] What is the fan expectation for the Wild’s team this year?

"Expectations are higher than they’ve ever been and this team had better contend for the division this year.  With the acquisitions of Suter and Parise complimented by players like Mikko Koivu, Heatley, Cal Clutterbuck, Devin Setoguchi, Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, the pieces are in place for a talented core of players to build a contender around.  Role players are needed to win and those guys can be found or developed but first you need the raw talent and that’s what this club now has.  Anything but a playoff berth with the team winning a couple of rounds will fall short of expectations.  I’m  not saying they have to win the cup or even make the finals, but a Western Conference showing is not out of the realm of reason and expectation."

I had noted to Derek that the Columbus fans are pretty bummed out about the lockout with the All-Star Game scheduled and a number or trades that have changed the face of the locker room so we have a chance to redeem ourselves from the last place finish of last year.

Q– How do your fans feel about the fact that the lockout may prevent you from seeing the New Wild with their 2 top shelf acquisitions?

"To put it mildly, it sucks.  This team goes out and makes two bold moves in the offseason to immediately improve this club and now fans are faced with the reality that we may not be able see these guys for at least six months, if not longer. The Twins struggled this year and while the Vikings are a nice surprise thus far in the NFL, fans long for hockey and this lockout is taking it’s toll on the fan base."

Q– Do you consider yourself a small market team?

"I did, until this past summer when the Wild instantly had the second highest payroll in the league. It’s difficult to view them as a small market club now given they just dished out nearly $200 million over the next 13 years.  It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the next five years. We all know that money doesn’t buy championships or even locker room chemistry so if the Wild struggle, do they revert to their previous ways and look at selling off top talent to rebuild?  It’s intriguing to think about but for now they are set up to win."

Note: That’s an interesting way of looking at the classification of small market vs large market. If you pay enough to play with the big boys, then you should fit in with the big boys.

Q– After huge long multi year contracts this summer and then going into a contract negotiation, where the length of contracts would be limited, do you feel this is 2-faced on the owners part?

"Absolutely.  Talk about a hypocrite when the owners hand out these massive deals then turn around and say these deals are no good for the league.  It’s hard to believe what he says now but keep in mind if they settle this lockout ends in the near future and the Wild start winning all will be forgotten about.  Winning cures everything."

  Stay tuned for part 4 tomorrow – and the Wiz incident