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Zucker apologizes to Boudreau, wants to help Wild overcome slow start

Forward regrets comments on coach, focusing on 'doing the right things' for 1-6-0 Minnesota

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jason Zucker apologized to coach Bruce Boudreau on Saturday for comments the Minnesota Wild forward made on Thursday and took his share of the responsibility for the Wild's 1-6-0 record, which matches the worst start in their history.

"There was no reason for me to use his name in that quote in any way," Zucker said after practice Saturday. "That's completely on me. My intention with the quote was to state that everybody needs to be better and needs to do more and pull more weight, and 99.9 percent of that is on the players. Again, there's no reason that I should have used Bruce's name in that quote in any way. That's completely my fault."

Following a 4-0 loss at the Montreal Canadiens and a team meeting Thursday, Zucker, according to several media reports, said, "I think more than [a meeting is] going to have to jump-start us, to be honest with you. It's going to be each individual guy from Bruce on down. Bruce has got to be better. We've got to be better. Everybody's got to be better. That's it."

Zucker, who has two goals in seven games, said he apologized to Boudreau on Thursday and again before practice Saturday. 

"It's obviously a tough time for everybody in this room," Zucker said. "Everybody wants to win, everybody wants to do the right things. That was a poor use of words, so that's completely my fault. That said, I stand by the fact that everyone does need to be better. … Just making sure we're doing the right things on the ice and off the ice and making sure that everything with this organization is in a positive light."

Video: PIT@MIN: Zucker redirects feed in front for PPG

Boudreau said he understood Zucker's intent was to point the blame at the team as a whole and not specifically call him out. 

"He could have gone through, the whole organization has to be better," Boudreau said.

The Wild have been outscored 29-14 and have allowed two goals in less than two minutes in each of their six losses. 

"I think it's just being a little more detailed with everything," Zucker said. "We just have to bear down a little bit more and make sure that every little thing we do we're doing with 100 percent urgency and making sure that we're on top of everything. 

"That doesn't mean gripping your stick tighter or making a 100 mph pass from 5 feet. It just means putting it on the tape from 5 feet and putting guys in the right positions to make plays and being in the right spots so that when defensemen have the puck and forwards have the puck, they have an outlet to make a pass."

Minnesota will try to get back on track when it hosts Montreal in a rematch at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-N, FS-WI, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV).

"If we get out of [this slump], it will make us a better team and better people," Boudreau said. "Only the strong survive, so I mean, you can sit there and whine and mope and talk behind people's backs, 'Well it's his fault, that fault.' But in the end you look upon yourself and take the onus upon yourself, and good people find ways to make other people better and get out of these types of things."

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