If the Minnesota Wild fired Bruce Boudreau today, they might be doing the poor guy a kindness.
The veteran head coach is presiding over a massive dumpster fire, and unfortunately there’s no quick or easy way to put out the flames.
How bad is it? Let’s take a look.
Going into the weekend, Minnesota had allowed more than twice as many goals (29) as it had scored (14). The Wild’s only win was against the Ottawa Senators, also one of the NHL’s worst teams.
Brad Hunt, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon lead the way with just four points apiece. Zach Parise, Jason Zucker and Luke Kunin have just two each, and Eric Staal has one. Mats Zuccarello, Paul Fenton’s big free agent acquisition before he was fired, hasn’t registered a point in four games.
Carson Soucy leads Minnesota with a plus/minus rating of +3. Staal is a -10, Matt Dumba a -9, Parise and Spurgeon a -7.
The veterans have fallen off a cliff and the younger players aren’t picking up the slack. Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock haven’t been good in goal either, but it’s not all on them. It’s tough on a goalie when everyone in front of them gets caught puck watching in the defensive zone.
A coaching change isn’t going to fix this mess. If the Wild want to get out from under this, the organization has to buy into three words: Embrace the tank.
Blow it up. Put everything and everyone on the table, even the recently-extended Spurgeon. Reshaping the roster won’t be easy, because Spurgeon and six other high-profile players have either no trade or no movement clauses in their contracts.
That’s where “the tank” comes in. If I’m general manager Bill Guerin, I’m upfront with those guys and I tell them that my goal is to clean house and start over, so things could get really bad and progress won’t happen overnight.
If I’m lucky, most of those guys will want out. Parise, for example, is 35 years old. Does he want to spend the waning years of his career on a bottom dweller? I doubt it. Minnesota would probably have to retain some of his salary in a trade, but it would be well worth it in the long run. Get whatever you can for him.
The same goes with Suter, Zuccarello and the others.
Lose, a lot. Stockpile draft picks and give yourself a shot at a franchise player; a guy like Auston Matthews or Steven Stamkos. That’s the only way the Wild are going to start turning this thing around.
The fans won’t want to hear that, and team owner Craig Leipold definitely won’t want to hear it, but it’s the reality. Four or five seasons of ineptitude won’t be fun to endure but if you do it right, you set up Minnesota for another run at the Cup.
What about Boudreau? He might not want to stick around, either, and I wouldn’t blame him. But his veteran leadership would be a great help during the rebuild. He has earned the right to make that call.
Mike Hautamaki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.