In a still breaking story Minnesota Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough has not been renewed for next season with the club:
Weatherwise, it's already a beautiful day in the State of Hockey. But after hearing this news, the sun got even brighter, the birds we're singing even sweeter.
If Lemaire's resignation was the first sad news of the summer, this very much is the first good news. Risebrough started this season without adequate forwards for their roles (Sheppard, Pouliot) and failed to make the deals that would've provided depth at center. Furthermore he gutted the team, and got nothing in return to clear cap room for Gaborik, who he was never going to be able to sign anyway.
On Gaborik, I'm not sure if this is an effort to keep him as some of the early posters on twincities.com have suggested. I think, unless they can get him at a real good deal, they're better off letting him walk and using the cap space to get another center and maybe squeeze in another wing. I don't think there's going to be a massive bidding war for free agents this summer with the cap likley to stay put. The free agent vaules will be better this summer compared to the last couple of summers for sure (Johnsson at 5M, really?).
I admire Leopold's courage. I'd like to think this had something to do with my online petition I started on Saturday, but no one signed it (I should've made an active hyperlink, and at least sign it myself, details). More honestly, I'd like to think this had more to do with pressure from season ticket holders. The local media was absolutley absent on blaming Doug for any of this. They were always quick to question if Lemaire's defense first coaching was the problem, but clearly this has been a personnel issue ever since Sheppard was 2nd on the Center depth list before the season.
I don't want to dump on Sheppard, but he was too young for what Dougie expected, Koivu had the benefit of being a 3rd or 4th liner for several seasons before being the top Center last year.
So while I admire Mr. Leipold for this move, he is in a pretty tough spot. The draft is less than 2 months away and he needs a GM in place that can hire a coach before then. I'll admit I'm pretty ignorant of who's available as GM's go. I still expect next season to be a "rebuilding year," so maybe Leipold might give someone their first shot instead of an retread.
I'm not sure how much improvement this means for the team next season. It really depends on how the summer goes, but I would still guess they're around even money to make the playoffs (as most teams are). However, a few seasons down the line, hopefully the goal of making the Wild perennial contenders (which we fans were promised in the earlier) will finally be realized, instead of torn apart by Dougie's cheapness every time it seems they're close.