Minnesota Wild Ready to Cross the "New Divide"
Minnesota has endured a major overhaul from top to bottom, and the fans and players are both anxious to see it all come together.
First, let's recap the major news and events of this offseason.
April 13, 2009: Minnesota's only head coach since the team's expasion in 2000, Jacques Lemaire, officially steps down.
May 21, 2009: The Wild introduce former Penguins Assistant General Manager Chuck Fletcher as Minnesota's new General Manager.
June 15, 2009: Minnesota introduces Former San Jose Assistant Coach Todd Richards as new Head Coach.
June 26-27, 2009: From the Bell Center in Montreal, Minnesota selects eight new players from the NHL Entry Draft, including a pair of roomates from Fairbuilt's Shattuck Saint Mary's High School. Also, the Wild selected Nick Leddy, a hometown kid, with their first round draft pick 16th overall from Eden Prairie High School.
July 1, 2009: Minnesota's last remaining original player from the team's expansion, Marian Gaborik, who holds team records for career points and goals, signs as a free agent with the New York Rangers.
Minnesota signs Former Blackhawks Forward Martin Havlat to a 6-year, $30 million contract.
July 5-13, 2009: Minnesota holds its annual prospect camp at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where both fans and coachs got a first look at the Wild's new players.
As the official training camp closes in, the first preseason game will be short to follow when the Wild face the re-vamped St. Louis Blues on Wednesday Sept. 15.
The Wild are obviously excited to see their new team in action. This past Sunday at the Minnesota State Fair, the Wild unveiled its new third jersey.
However, there are many obstacles to clear for the Wild to be successful.
The loss of Marian Gaborik is still turning stomachs around the state of hockey, but hopefully Minnesota is confident that new wing Martin Havlat can take his place as the team's offensive superstar
The Wild have had a few seasons with major health issues lately and it will be important for them to stay healty this season to keep the rebuilding process going.
Team chemsitry has also been shaky. Coupled with the fact that last year injuries and sickness didn't help, Minnesota will again start the season off with many new faces. It will be important for the team to bond early if they want a chance at a successful season.
Without quesiton, expectations are high with the club this year, but do not get too far ahead of yourself. The Wild have a new coach, GM, players and on top of that they will be learning a new system and style of play.
As easy as it is for Wild fans to jump the gun and think playoffs for next season, that would be far-fetched.
The most important thing for the Wild is to adapt to Chuck Fletcher's new system as quickly and effectively as possible.
Fletcher has made it clear through his work in Pittsburgh and here in his early months that he will be rebuilding this team from scratch.
The result may finally be that Stanley Cup win Pittsburgh achieved last fall, but that took a few years to achieve.
So as we sit back and watch this team grow, keep in mind that very soon Minnesota may finally be lifting that prized silver trophy everybody dreams about as a little kid.
This is step one, one step across the new divide for a future winning franchise.
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