Let’s Take a Peek at the Schedule
Any fan of the Wild has noticed that it feels like they’ve been on the road for almost every game. They wouldn’t be far off from the truth; of the thirty-one games the Minnesota Wild have played this season, twenty of them have been on the road, aka almost half of our road games for the season have already been played, and we are just over a third of the way through the season! ALSO, the longest homestand the Wild have had in the eleven home games is TWO GAMES (has happened three times). It’s absurd. The guys have been traveling virtually all season.
Another interesting number about the schedule; of the thirty-one games the Wild have played, 70% of the competition has been against playoff-caliber teams (in the playoffs today + preseason favorites like Tampa, Toronto, and San Jose). To my knowledge, the General Managers of each team finalize the schedule before Free Agency, which is July 1st (Wild announced schedule June 25th this season). That would mean Paul Fenton was still employed and approved of this nightmare schedule for the Minnesota Wild.
Look, it could have been done to make Minnesota’s road to the playoffs (if they were contending) easier because the majority of their games would be at home (just under 60% of the remaining games are at home, including a seven-game homestand from Mid-January into February). But, from what has been uncovered about Paul Fenton’s management of the team, he clearly thought this team was going to begin rebuilding this season (moving Coyle, Granlund, Nino, trying to trade Parise and Zucker, not committing to Spurgeon early in Summer, trying to fire Bruce).
Allow me to put on my aluminum foil hat on for a second: I believe Paul Fenton structured the schedule in this manner to bury the Minnesota Wild early in the season. Think of the disastrous October the Wild had; Four wins and Nine losses- none in overtime. Further, on November 17th, the Minnesota Wild found themselves last in the league (ironically, this was a day after an overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the second game in the eleven game point streak for the Wild). I think Fenton tried to tank the Wild early to push Craig Leipold into the rebuild and replace Bruce Boudreau. Lastly, I think Fenton back-loaded the schedule with home games so that once the fanbase collectively agreed it was time to rebuild, he could show off the potential future of HIS team- like Nico Sturm, Gerry Mayhew, Brennan Menell and Carson Soucy- and give the reigns of the franchise to the new core, like Joel Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, Kevin Fiala, and Ryan Donato.
Whether or not my conspiracy theory is true, the Minnesota Wild changed GM’s before the season and hired Bill Guerin, who has publicly stated that he’s going to be patient with the roster and the coach to see how they performed. After the bad start, they dug themselves out of the basement of the league and put themselves near the Wild Card spot with an eleven game point streak, which included a five-game win streak, and in the last eighteen games the Wild have played, they have points in fifteen of them (10-3-5).