Before we get to the first of my annual Scouting the Central series… I am incredibly excited to welcome another new sponsor to the HockeyBuzz and SlapShot Radio Family. We welcomed Cool Springs Wines and Spirits
! The largest spirit store in all of middle Tennessee last week and now we are pleased to announce another great local sponsor.
They are La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries
! You will be learning more about these great stores over the next few months, including the fact that the middle Tennessee stores are locally owned and operated. I honestly had no idea that was the case for this great brand. Check out their website at the link above and make sure you take advantage of incredible Labor Day savings going on right now…
Time to start my annual Scouting the Central series, a look at the Central Division team-by-team, what they have done (or not done) to improve themselves (or not) in the off season. We will get the party started with the Minnesota Wild, 2018-19’s last place team…
– 37-36-9 – 83 points, good for 7th in the Central Division and 11th in the Western Conference. Missed playoffs by 7 points saving the team from another first round exit.
Key stat from last season
– 220 - The number of goals scored by Minnesota, 27th in the NHL
- Paul Fenton (GM, fired last month)
- GM Bill Guerin, F Mats Zuccarello, F Ryan Hartman
The BIG Question
- When does Bruce Boudreau get held accountable for his team’s performance? Or should I say under-performance? Boudreau is a very popular coach, you can’t help but like him… ever since his star turn on “24/7 - Road to the Winter Classic” on HBO. He is funny, engaging and knows the game. Everyone seems to love him. That being said… the on-ice performance of his teams, especially in the playoffs, have not been up to snuff and that can only be allowed to continue for so long… ask yourself another question… how many coaches have outlasted three (count ‘em three) general managers can you think of?
- To be fair… Injuries were a big factor in last season’s Wild flameout. Losing Mikko Koivu and Matt Dumba for long stretches of time certainly hurt… but there is a real problem in St. Paul. I don’t know if it is vision or direction or simply trying to hard, all I know is the Wild are now on their third GM in three seasons… not a good look and they have wasted the years of a talented lineup that got old fast. Koivu is 36 and recovering from a torn ACL. Eric Staal is 35, Zach Parise is 35, Ryan Suter is 34. The addition of Zuccarello adds another player on the wrong side of 30… It does not portend well. That being said, there is some young talent on this team and some decent prospects in the pipeline. The defense is solid and the goaltending is serviceable.
Best Case/Worst Case
- The best case scenario is that the Wild add 15 points to last year’s total and squeak into the playoffs… only to go down in the first round… again. Worst case is that Minnesota continues the downward spiral toward the inevitable rebuild that is rapidly becoming necessary
- I just don’t see a plan in the State of Hockey, it seems that they are going to toss the puck out there and hope and I have had many a boss tell me that “hope is not a plan.” Who is responsible for this? Is it ownership? Perhaps, It is painfully obvious that this team needs clarity of direction. They need new GM Bill Guerin to come in and provide that direction. Honestly… it may be time to blow it up in St.Paul. This team’s core isn’t getting any younger and the youth needs some time and space to develop. They need to restock the goaltending prospect pool. They have Parise and Suter (and their $15 million plus cap hit) for SIX MORE SEASONS when one will be 41 and one will be 40. One of their best offensive hopes is an inconsistent, at best, Kevin Fiala, who has all the tools but hasn’t seemed to been able to put it all together so far in the NHL.
State of Hockey? More like a State of Confusion… I am really not trying to piss off Wild fans, but they need to hope (there’s that word again) that Bill Guerin can bring order from the chaos and quick.
Next up, the Chicago Blackhawks.
SlapShot Radio will be back for our 12th season as Zack, Brent and I will be moving the show to Monday night’s this year. The best hour of hockey talk on the longest running hockey show in the southeast is now at 7pm Monday’s on 102.5 the Game.
Our sponsor list continues to grow. Not only are we welcoming back Drs. Jane Bacon and Aileen Kruger at Hermitage Family and Cosmetic Dentistry
… make your appointment at (615) 872-7762 and Patrick J. Brown’s Farmer Insurance Agency in Mt. Juliet… I switched to them a few years back and their service has been incredible! Give Pat and his team a call at 615-288-2086. And of course… don’t forget our good friend Carter Church! Your Mufreesboro real estate expert with Weichert – The Andrews Group. And our newest sponsor… Cool Springs Wines and Spirits
! The largest spirit store in all of middle Tennessee!
The new season promises to be the best yet and we get going on September 23rd.
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