By Wild Road Tripper
Let's all face facts, Minnesota Wild fans. Your 2009-2010 season is officially over, especially after last night's disasterous, Andria Doria-esque rollover at home by blowing a two-goal third period lead to the otherwise hapless Florida Panthers.
The fact that this was even allowed to happen shows that the players have already made their travel arrangements for April 12, the second day after the regular season's last game vs. Dallas.
And, as a season ticket holder and fervent Wild fan, and one who will be getting even more squeezed next season by a $5/seat per game increase, two words described my feelings about this team right now.
The game last night was just a microcosm for the season in general, as the way the Wild rolled over and played dead for the better part of 55 minutes last night generated the following thought:
Andrew Brunette looked as if he needed a walker to skate up and down the ice with; in my mind, he has never, ever looked older than he has the last week or so. Antti Miettinen? Maybe they should go get a barn picture, and hang it in goal to give Antti a target to shoot at. He has missed more goals than he has scored.
While linemates Martin Havlat and Guillaume Latendresse have clicked very nicely, thank you, that line needs a legitimate NHL center. And no, that answer is not Andrew Ebbett. And who really is our third and fourth-line centers? Does anyone know?
Owen Nolan stayed here because he was promised that the roster would get better. After last night, when he was lined up with Houston call-up Petr Kalus and Sheppard, I'm sure he was wishing he would be with Alex Ovechkin and Co. in Washington, or lined up with Devin Setoguchi in San Jose. Anywhere but with this bunch of minor-leaguers.
And then there is the question of all the dead weight still on this roster. While GM Chuck Fletcher has done major surgery to lop off loads of the deadbeats off the roster, he knows he still has a lot of work to be done. Shane Hnidy, John Scott, about half of the Houston Aeros' roster, all need to be exorcised. And then, there is the single biggest poster child for exorcism since Linda Blair:
The consensus amongst most (not all) Wild fans is that he is the ultimate waste of a roster spot. Sheppard was mis-scouted, drafted way-y-y too high, molly-coddled, mis-handled, and mis-promoted through the organization, which has now made him a mis-fit here in Minnesota. He is not a bad player, given the right set of circumstances. There has to be a team in need of a big power forward out there somewhere.
His faults: He has absolutely NO motivation to work at his game. He is as slow as any player in the NHL. He has next to no puck sense; you normally can count on him for 3-5 bad (or, outright wrong) plays per game. This guy really could use a change of scenery. Now, having said all that, the best solution for both sides, in my opinion, is simple: addition by subtraction. Fletcher may not like this, but you really need to cut ties with this guy, and both go your separate ways.
And soon. Like this summer. Before the free agency season ends on July 1. It might not be the best move, but it ends the tragedy which is the relationship between Sheppard and the fans, the organization, and the management.
The brain trust in Downtown St. Paul knows they have their job cut out for them after this season ends. It just isn't fair to the fan base not to try to get better; the previous Wild administration tried 'something for nothing', and look where it got them. The 'bargain basement' days of the Wild need to end. This summer. Or else risk alienating the fan base.
Until then, happy sucking, Wild. You now reap what you sow.