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He Said It: Fletcher Quotes - May 16

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher met with the media Friday to recap the organization’s season and looks towards the futures. Here’s a selection of quotes from the press conference.

On the team this season:

This team has really grown by leaps and bounds. I’m really proud of our coaching staff and our players.

A lot of ups and downs in the playoffs but we continued to battle and showed the trademark resiliency that we were know for this year and we took a step. I’m proud of the step we took. Yet, having said that, today we’ve already turned the page and we’re working towards next year.

We became a team as the year went on. Do teams in the League have more talent than we do? Probably. But I think you’d be hard pressed to find a closer group than we had at the end of the year. The key is how do we keep that going and how do we continue to improve our talent.

On the playoffs:

We won six games; you need 16 to win a Cup. We’re certainly proud of the step we took, we’re proud of how hard we played, we certainly believe we had a chance to prolong that series to a seventh game and take our shot there.

We feel we’re a team that’s competing for a Stanley Cup, that’s what you’re in this business for. We took a step this year; we’ve got to continue to improve.

On the team moving forward:

That’s what the next few weeks are going to be all about. We’ll have organizational meetings with our pro scouts and coaches. Right now we’re breaking down the stats, getting the analytics part of it done, we’ll go through the debriefing, sit down with our front office people, look at everything we did well and the things we didn’t do as well, areas we can improve and our cap going forward. Everything is on the table.

The one thing I will say, compared to last offseason, this offseason we have a lot more holes filled; we have a lot more players we know will be coming back. We’re not looking to fill nearly as many positions as we did last summer.

On balancing the salary cap and investing in the future:

This year we do have plenty of salary cap space, yet, we do have a lot of good kids, so we’ll try to balance everything out and go from there.

You certainly have to look at what you can do to improve your team for next season, but you better have an eye on three to five years down the road. Cap space is not malleable, once you use it its gone. We need to make sure we preserve enough of it to keep the kids we want to keep, and that will have a major impact on what we do this summer.

On developing of “the kids”:

Typically 20, 21, 22-year-old kids continue to get better and continue to get better certainly up until the time they turn 24-25. They’re in that statistical upswing of their career.

A lot of the young guys still have relatively little experience in the NHL. They’ve been able to take a step forward, but I hope this is not their ceiling and there is a whole other level they can get to and they’ll need to get to for us to get to where we want to get eventually.

You look around the League and you read all the comments, from the various markets, and they’re talking about two things generally: We need to get bigger and we need to get younger. Our scouts have done a great job and these young kids are starting to emerge.

On team’s improvements:

Around Christmas we were averaging about 2.1 goals-per-game, from that point on we scored 2.7 goals-per-game for the rest of the season. While it’s not the Edmonton Oilers circa 1984, it’s also not the Minnesota Wild circa 2011. We improved offensively from Christmas right through the playoffs.

On balancing playoff performance and organizational decisions:

The playoffs are a small sample size. You look at every team in the league and they have examples of players who had a big playoff and examples of really good players who struggled to score. That’s the problem, if you go to the regular season and find a 10 or 12 game sample size and every player will have a segment, even a Zach Parise maybe will get one goal in 12 games and then another 12 games he might get seven. So, you’ve got to be a little bit careful there, but I think the playoffs show you a little bit about the competitiveness of players, the resiliency of players, the mental strength that certain players may or may not have and that’s what impressed me the most about our group. A lot of young players stepped up and showed they could handle the big stage. I though our veteran players, particularly in that Colorado series, really helped reset the entire team with their play on the ice.

On the team’s goaltending situation:

I wish I could sit here and tell you we had the answer right now, it will be part of the process in June in our organizational meetings. Certainly the doctors will play a part in this, salary cap will play a part in this and we’ll sit down and try to make the best decisions we can. There’s a realistic chance that we’ll need to have three goaltenders next year, but that is something we’ll look at and see how things play out this summer.

Stay tuned.

On the team’s six-game losing streak in December:

A lot gets made of these losing streaks and we had one at the end of in December and a little one in March, The only team I think I’ve ever seen that did not have a rough patch at all was the Chicago Blackhawks last season. They had a remarkable regular season and remarkable playoffs.

Every team hits a stretch where they lose four or five in a row and the key is, how do you respond? What we tried to do is keep our cool, not overreact and let the process play out.

On bringing in “character” players:

I think we’ve been able to bring in certain types of players. Talent is very important, but we put an emphasis on character. Character is an overused term in sports, like chemistry, yet, they do exist. I think we have a group of players that play hard, and our best players have a top end work ethic. They want to win and they are not selfish. That sets a tone for our group. We believe our young kids are hard working, character kids, and if they weren’t the veteran players would make sure they were.

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