Monopoly is a game that requires luck and smarts. Rules must be followed and understood. Players need to know what they’re up against; weigh all their options and spend their money wisely. Sometimes a player buys up a property because it’s available – sheer convenience. Other times players purchase a property because they know that someone else will snag it if they don’t dole out the cash. And sometimes players buy just to flaunt their pastel-colored money in other player’s faces and increase their property ownership.
Well, Craig Leipold (MN Wild owner) is ready to show off his marigold $500’s, the big money, so to speak. He told Dan Barreiro of KFAN Sports Radio 100.3 FM, “We are going to try to get the top free agents that are out there.” Those “highly touted UFA” (Dan Barreiro/KFAN).
But Leipold is smart enough to know that “show me the money” (video below) is not going to be enough to persuade all of the top-name UFA on his list (and every other owner/GM’s list out there) to join his missed-the-playoffs-again team.
Since the Wild’s offense and defense has room for improvement, Leipold is perfecting his bedtime story so he can put doubting whispers to rest, and get high-end players (UFA’s like Zach Parise – who, like Toews and Crosby, played prep hockey for Tom Ward at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and college hockey for Dave Hakstol at the University of North Dakota – a “Minnesota boy” only by some people’s standards) to buy-in to the Wild’s system. And Leipold knows that the Wild’s turn-around is not going to take place over night.
With unwavering confidence in General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Head Coach Mike Yeo, who Leipold admits, he himself had his doubts over hiring an inexperienced NHL coach, Leipold is confidently optimistic that the Wild will be a contender for the Cup in 2015, 2016, or 2017.
He sees potential, bright-stars, in his system and believes that children are the future (cue inspirational Whitney music – video below) of the Wild’s organization. He’s keeping his eye on young, developing players like Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Zack Phillips, Jonas Brodin, and Jason Zucker.
“He’s [Koivu] the kind of player like Toews is for the Blackhawks.”
Those may be hard words for Minnesota fans to hear since Koivu has not done for the Wild what Toews has done for the Hawks (in terms of stats and accomplishments – winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 and making Playoff appearances in 2009, 2011, and 2012).
But one has to look at the rest of the team. An injured Bouchard here. An injured Latendresse there. Dud-draft picks. A failed Havlat. A Heatley without the goals. Waving goodbye to Todd Richards; welcoming Mike Yeo. And the rest of the “empty cupboard” that Leipold acquired when he purchased the Wild four years ago.
Despite all of that, the negativity and opinions, Craig Leipold says you can “Bet the ranch we’re in the Playoffs next year.”
It’s Leipold’s turn. And he’s drawing a “Chance” card.
*All quotes from Craig Leipold’s interview with Dan Barreiro.
Megan is a native Minnesotan who loves The State of Hockey, the month of March in Minnesota, and Tator Tot Hotdish. She is the volunteer camp director at a girls’ hockey camp every summer and writes about all-things Minnesota, especially hockey, on her blog http://mnmeditations.wordpress.com. A newbie at The Hockey Writers, she is honored to be covering Minnesota Wild hockey.