The Minnesota Wild find themselves lagging behind in a top heavy Central Division, and over the weekend Wild general manager Bill Guerin did not hold back when expressing his disappointment.
Guerin made it clear that, despite the tough cap situation they find themselves in with over $14.7 million committed to the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, he expects more from his team on the ice. Guerin dismissed any notion that head coach Dean Evason was to blame, perhaps due in part to that aforementioned cap constraint.
"It’s that old saying: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” said Guerin as per Wild insider Mike Russo. “I think Dean’s doing a good job. And you know what? He can’t go out and play for the guys. He can’t have them execute. They have to do that. They have to do that.”
Guerin instead placed the blame at the feet of the players, many of whom have clearly underperformed this season.
"My biggest thing is our compete level,” clarified the Wild GM. “And look, guys work hard every night and they care. I know that. But it’s a different type of compete and focus. I just don’t think we’ve had it."
The Wild have especially shown their weakness on special teams, something that proved to be their achilles heal in the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs as well. The Wild currently boast the 6th worst power play in the NHL, converting on just 15.6 percent of their opportunities, while simultaneously boasting the absolute worst penalty kill in the league allowing teams to convert 34.5 percent of the time.
Guerin called a team meeting earlier this week and gave his team a piece of his mind, but in spite of that message the Wild have rattled off two straight losses over the weekend. If the team fails to meet Guerin's expectations, something may have to give sooner rather than later.