Sources: Risebrough fired; Leipold conference call tidbits; Backstrom may need hip surgery, other Wild medical news

Posted on April 16th, 2009 – 11:52 AM
By Michael Russo


According to two outside NHL sources, Wild GM Doug Risebrough has been fired by owner Craig Leipold. It is unconfirmed inside the organization.

Leipold was said to have agonized over the decision but decided, in the final analysis, that a change in direction was called for.

Here’s the memo from the team:

Minnesota Wild Owner, Craig Leipold, announced today that the organization will not renew the contract of President and General Manager, Doug Risebrough, beyond the 2008-2009 season.

“The entire Minnesota Wild organization is forever indebted to Doug for his substantial efforts in establishing this franchise’s solid foundation and winning tradition,” said Leipold. “The positive impact of Doug’s service will be felt for many years to come. We wish Doug the very best.”

The search for a new General Manager will begin immediately. The first order of business for the incoming General Manager will be to select the Team’s next Head Coach.

Until a replacement is found, Assistant General Manager Tom Lynn, will be acting-General Manager.

I will be on early this evening to blog more, but right now, I’m working the story.

I’ve talked to several people today, including a number of people interested in the job. I’ll throw stuff on later, and obviously in tomorrow’s coverage.

Here’s Jacques Lemaire, whom I reached in Montreal. He’s coming back to Minnesota tomorrow.

“I got a call from [assistant coach Mario Tremblay] and he told me this and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was shocking, it was shocking. I never expected it. I never thought he’d be fired after I left,” former Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We tried to get this team better. What Craig thought was something different.
“Us, I thought we did some decent things there. We don’t know anymore what to think there. It just shows you the owner has a different perspective than a lot of people could go.”

Lemaire was unable to get in contact with Risebrough.

Lemaire, by the way, does not want the job.

From the Leipold conference call:

– He made his decision a month ago.

– He told Risebrough Tuesday, and he took it professionally.

– The new GM will only be GM, and not GM and President

– On whether Lemaire would have been fired if he didn’t quit, Leipold said he hasn’t thought about that because he always assumed Lemaire was leaving.

– He has a little of former GM’s and bright stars he’s interested in. Candidates have solicited him already today via call and email.

There will be lots of speculation that Leipold will want to hire his former GM in Nashville David Poile, who’s on a year-to-year contract. I know from a source the two spoke yesterday. However, the Tennessean reported last July that in the sales papers, Leipold is prohibited from ever hiring Poile for a job with another NHL franchise.

In other news:

Like Marian Gaborik before, it appears goalie Niklas Backstrom’s groin pain was stemming from a hip problem.
Hesitant to speak because he had yet to talk with Wild acting GM Tom Lynn, Backstrom said Thursday he may need surgery.
“I saw a doctor today, and the team doctors, and we have to decide now in a couple days if I need surgery,” Backstrom said. “I need to get other opinions, and also from back home in Finland. It’s tough for me because everything’s in English, so I need someone to translate to me so I know exactly what’s going on.”
Backstrom said he hoped to talk to Gaborik so he can see his hip specialist, Vail’s Marc Philippon. He said the recovery from an operation “is speculated, but in my mind, I’ll be ready by the start of the season.”

Left  wing Andrew Brunette had successful reconstructive surgery on his right knee Thursday and he will begin rehab immediately.
Left wing Derek Boogaard will have surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday and will be ready in time for the start of next season.

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