Why the Wild moved on from Fenton

The Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold left talked with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise before a press conference was held Monday July 09, 2012 in St. Paul, MN. ] Jerry Holt/ STAR TRIBUNE.COM)(Photo By Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images)
The Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold left talked with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise before a press conference was held Monday July 09, 2012 in St. Paul, MN. ] Jerry Holt/ STAR TRIBUNE.COM)(Photo By Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images) /
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Bad Roster Moves, Bad Management of Relationships, Inability to Speak to the Media, and a lack of a vision

The Roster Moves

What I imagine to be the leading reason for Paul Fenton’s termination is poor roster moves- namely, the bad trade. Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask was incredibly horrible. Plenty of reports came out after the move that zero scouting was done on Victor Rask prior to the trade, which is definitely problematic. I doubt that Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato was frowned upon by ownership- might wish they got a draft pick or two to add to the supply. Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala has yet to produce a clear winner. Granny never took off in Nashville, and Kevin Fiala had flashes of brilliance, but also some poor moments. Claiming Anthony Bitetto off waivers was a head-scratcher. They just had acquired Brad Hunt and by claiming Bitetto, they had to send Ek and Kunin to the minors to create roster space, despite the two being on absolute heaters. And this was the highlight of Bitetto’s season:

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were proud of that catch.

So there was one terrible trade, two alright trades, and one uncertain trade.

Then Bitetto. Not good.

Relationships with the Players

I clearly chronicled my thoughts and feelings about the news that Jason Zucker was actively trying to be traded. I can’t imagine ownership was too pleased about the way that painted the franchise, especially with Craig Leipold being in Las Vegas to support Zucker at the awards ceremony. Jason gave his thoughts on the situation when he said: “As far as I know, they don’t want me to leave and I don’t want to, but I will say, I do want to be somewhere I’m wanted.” And his wife Carly Zucker clearly stated her thoughts on the situation with this tweet:


Other evidence of Paul Fenton being a poor leader

Inability to Speak to the Media

Okay, he could talk to the Media. It is what he said.

Let’s observe:

"“I told him when I was talking to him that he’s like a lizard, the way a lizard takes his tongue and sticks it as far as it does and retrieves what it was trying to do.” — GM Paul Fenton on Mats Zuccarello"

"Fenton on 1-5-3 month (Wild’s miserable February): “It hasn’t been a lot of fun trying to go to sleep at night. When I do go to sleep, I find myself crying like a baby.”"

"“The thing I liked is when guys came up to our table and they were way taller than me. We’ve had some smaller prospects, good hockey players, but every time somebody came up and they were much taller, you got a smile on a lot of our faces.”- Paul Fenton on Drafted Prospects"

Let us do a quick google search on Paul Fenton will find you a couple of things:

  1. Someone already updated his Wikipedia page, where he is now “Former Minnesota Wild General Manager”
  2. He played for the Hartford Whalers, which is sick because Brass Bonanza was an awesome song and made the Hurricanes-Whalers throwback completely worth it
  3. He’s 5′ 11″

#3 is really the only one that matters. It would be a self jested comment if he was shorter, but he’s above average in height. Why are we focusing on that? Tell us what John Wroblewski told us about Matt Boldy, explain why you passed on Cole Caufield or decided not to take Spencer Knight, the next big Goalie prospect.

This is how you answer a reporter’s question:

Lack of a Vision

When Paul Fenton arrived in Minnesota, he preached a younger and faster team. Moves like trading Charlie Coyle for a more agile and quicker Ryan Donato, and the patient, perfect passing Granlund for a more explosive Kevin Fiala mirrored that vision. But trading the speedster Jason Zucker for an older slower Phil Kessel didn’t make sense. He protected the future by not willing to move any picks but failed to get fair value when it came to moving players. Nino for Rask should have easily been accompanied with good draft picks. A similar thing could be said for Granny and Coyle. Fenton’s ambiguity led to a murky scene in the offices and locker rooms in downtown St. Paul. Morale plummeted, players were uncomfortable, and the Wild seemed to grow apart as a team. Craig Leipold has taken responsibility for this and promises that the next GM will remedy the organizational issues Fenton had help cause. During his press conference, Craig Leipold stated that he realized something had to change during players exit interviews and he called those same players letting them know the plan of Fenton’s termination and the plan moving forward. Ultimately, this move was a shocking one. Late in the summer and of such proportions, it was unseen. But Leipold has openly stated he wants to contend, wants to win, wants to bring a championship to the Twin Cities. He thought Fenton was holding them back, so he is choosing to bring someone in who can help lead them forward.

What’s Next?

No immediate replacement has been named, so Assistant GM Tom Kurvers has assumed responsibility for his duties, but the interview process is expected to commence soon. Leipold will likely want someone with a bit more experience after Fenton. He also wants a hockey guy as a part of the interview process, which is why Mike Modano will be a part of the interview process. I was curious to see if they would allow Modano to assume responsibility of the GM roles much like Joe Sakic in Colorado, but Russo has already dispelled that.

I don’t know who I want as a General Manager of the Minnesota Wild.

I know who I don’t want: Peter Chiarelli

The rest of the summer will be interesting for certain. Can’t wait to see it unfold.