John Shipley / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL -- Losing nine of 10 games has not been enough to drop the Minnesota Wild from the Western Conference’s playoff hunt, but that no longer matters. It’s over. The team that flew to New York for Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. puck drop against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden will return substantially different. It no longer has, as they say in cherry-paneled board rooms, the confidence of management. “It’s the life cycle of a sports team,” a high-ranking Wild official said Wednesday, Feb. 20. “We’ll be back quickly.”
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild eased into their eight-game, mid-winter break on a three-game winning streak that included consecutive road wins and victories over good teams from Vegas and Columbus. Since then, it’s been something of a disaster.
ST. PAUL -- With the NHL trade deadline approaching, Paul Fenton has said he wants to see how his team plays this month before deciding on whether to buy or sell. That’s still the case, the Wild general manager said Thursday, Feb. 7, even with captain Mikko Koivu lost for the season. Feb. 25 is the deadline for NHL teams to add players eligible for postseason rosters. Starting with a 7 p.m. puck drop against Edmonton on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild have 10 games to show Fenton what he needs to see.
ST. PAUL -- Waived on Sunday, Wild forward J.T. Brown and defenseman Nate Prosser were sent to Iowa on Monday, Feb. 4, the latest in a series of mostly small moves by general manager Paul Fenton to tweak the roster of a team hovering in and out of the Western Conference playoff bracket. The pair cleared waivers Monday morning.
ST. PAUL -- The Wild entered Monday in the same playoff purgatory they’ve become accustomed to this season, among the Western Conference’s top eight teams but just barely. There is time to fix that, they insist. “We’re in a good position,” forward Marcus Foligno said. “We’ve got 30 games left.” Maybe. There are 30 games left for the Wild, starting with Tuesday night, Feb. 5, in Buffalo, but only 11 before the Feb. 25 trade deadline for teams looking to add players for postseason play.
ST. PAUL - The South St. Paul boy is staying home for a while. Alex Stalock, the Wild’s backup goaltender since spring of 2017, has agreed to terms on a three-year deal worth $2.35 million, the team announced Tuesday. The one-way contract is worth $905,000 next season, $700,000 in 2020-21 and $750,000 in 2021-22 for an average annual value of $785,000.
Minnesota United’s fan clubs did a remarkable thing last week. Wonderwall, the managing group for smaller grassroots supporters clubs, asked the MLS team not to acquire goalkeeper Agustin Rossi because of a domestic violence allegation made against him. Rossi, 23, has been playing in Argentina’s top league and an Argentine radio station has reported he’s on the way to St. Paul on an 18-month loan with an option to purchase (for $12 million). No, thanks, says Wonderwall.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday, Jan. 15, designated Maya Moore a core player, a franchise tag that takes away unrestricted free agency for a one-year contract and small raise. The eight-year WNBA veteran and four-time league champion with the Lynx doesn’t appear happy about that. According to a WCCO-TV report, Moore is considering sitting out the 2019 WNBA season or even retiring. The report prompted Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve to respond Thursday, Jan. 17.
ST. PAUL -- One wants so badly to blame Jimmy Butler, for everything, really; from Tom Thibodeau getting fired on Sunday, Jan. 6, to “SpongeBob SquarePants” losing steam after Season 3. Alas, in the case of Thibs, the guy wrote his own ticket to inoccupation. Butler didn’t trade for himself.
We’ve got one last chance to make it real, Bruce Springsteen once sang. The Vikings know the feeling. Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Bears can extend the season but won’t salvage it. If they manage to beat surging Chicago, the relief will be brief. They have to win again and again and again once more just to keep pace with last year’s surprise run to the NFC Championship.