The Minnesota Wild
, a team that has missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, begins December at the top of the overall NHL standings after the best start in franchise history. GM Chuck Fletcher discussed his team's early success Thursday on "The NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman."
Fletcher, son of Hall of Fame executive Cliff Fletcher, fired coach Todd Richards
after last season's disappointing finish and replaced him with Mike Yeo
, who had coached the Wild's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, to the Calder Cup Finals last spring. He also made a pair of major trades with San Jose, sending defenseman Brent Burns
to the Sharks for young forward Devin Setoguchi
, a top prospect taken with the eighth pick in 2005, then swapping Martin Havlat
for Dany Heatley
in a 1-for-1 exchange of forwards.
"We wanted a trade that would make us better now and add prospects for the future," he said of the Burns deal. "I believe it's a trade that will help both teams."
The remodeled Wild have been at their best in close games -- they've won 10 of 16 contests decided by one goal. Fletcher said that's a reflection of the way the team is structured, from the coach on down.