Chris Snow


Wild prospect scrimmage starting; Burns coaching one of the teams

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Live from the X, where a number of diehards have made the long trek out to St. Paul.

Prospects are warming up currently, and I hear a surprise is about to happen.

Brent Burns, dressed in Don Cherry garb, plans to coach one of the teams. Nice honeymoon!

Cal Clutterbuck’s coaching the other team. He’s dressed as Cal Clutterbuck.

This thing needs to start. Wild personality Kevin Falness’ Jumbotron features are driving me loco. And you know he rather be golfing.

Chris Snow just called Burns and said “where are you?” He goes, “In the room. Waiting for the scrimmage.”

Snow goes, “It started!!!”

Clutterbuck just ran to the ice. He only missed 10 minutes.

No score still. Darcy Kuemper, on the white team, just absolutely stoned Tyler Cuma from point blank.

Morten Madsen just gave the white team a 1-0 lead with a short side shot past Matt Hackett.

Green tied it. Harri Ilvonen or Kris Foucault got it.

Burns, while literally reading a magazine, didn’t realize there were too many men. Anthony Hamburg scored on a penalty shot. White leads 2-1.

3-1 white. Alex Fallstrom on a breakaway. 4-1 white. Erik Haula on a breakaway.

Burns pulled Hackett for an extra attacker. I don’t think he knows there’s a whole other half.

1,650 people here.

SECOND HALF

5-1 white. Madsen again. Burns’ is getting heckled by the fans. Clutterbuck’s just laughing from the other bench.

5-2. One shift after he and Petr Kalus got into a nasty wrestling match, Gillies scores from way out.

6-2…Hamburg again — the 17-year-old taken in the seventh round.

6-3…Gillies, making his brother Burnzie proud, just scored a beauty breakaway. As Mike Greenlay said, “Gillies schooling the youngsters.” Gillies is 20.

7-3…Carson McMillan from way out.

Burns pulling Hackett down 7-3.

Fridley’s Jarom Palmer just made it 7-4.

Clutterbuck talking smack to Burnzie. Game over. 7-4 White.

Good day.

Wild takes Nick Leddy; And let the picking (and trading?) begin; Sources: Kalus coming back to the Wild

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Wild takes Nick Leddy 16th. They passed on Jordan Schroeder … twice. Fresh blog in a couple hours 

Wild makes trade?; Chris Snow to Central Registry. Wild moves down, trading the 12th to the Islanders for the 16th and 77th they just acquired from Columbus and the 182nd. Wild now has nine picks in the draft.

I have this feeling Nick Leddy will be with the Wild. Just a gut feeling.

Hedman goes 2 to TB, Duchene 3 to COL, Evander Kane 4 to Hotlanta, Brayden Schenn 5 to L.A., … Phoenix on the clock with cheers of HAMILTON, HAMILTON (takes Larsson 6th); Kadri goes 7 as Burkie gets bigtime booed (he loved it); Scott Glennie to Dallas at 8, Jared Cowen 9 to Ottawa, Svensson 10th to Edmonton, Nashville takes Ellis 11th; Isles take de Haan at 12, Kassian to Buffalo at 13, Kulikov to FLA at 14, Holland at 15 to Anaheim

6:51 EDT: Star Tribune sources say Chris Pronger to Philly is “done.” Don’t know who’s going other way yet. Joffrey Lupul’s got to be going back to Anaheim plus other things. TSN’s reporting now it’s for Lupul, Sbisa and two firsts.

John Tavares does go No. 1, which is very funny. Word started to be leaked all around the place that Duchene was going 1, and you know that  came right from the Islanders table. Dater’s probably got half a Tavares feature written by now :)  

“I had no idea,” said Taveras, the London Knights star who used to play with the Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck in Oshawa. “I was just like everybody else wondering what the decision would be. It was a great moment and special feeling.”

Here we go, the Islanders are on the clock in nine minutes.

Also, and I’ve been working on this for a few days and I told you it wasn’t earth-shattering, but I am now comfortable reporting that according to multiple sources, prospect Petr Kalus is returning to the Wild. Kalus, 21, quit the Houston Aeros last October after being upset about not making the Wild. He only played 17 games in the Kontinental Hockey League and was miserable.

Kalus, a former Bruin, was acquired in the Manny Fernandez deal set up at the Draft two years ago. He will be at the Wild’s development camp July 6.

Aeros advance to the conference finals

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Lookee here

 constantine.jpg

After keeping one eye on the Caps-Pens Game 7, for the first time in the series, the game didn’t exactly live up to the hype. Boy, the Pens just kicked butt, eh? Can you say butt on a blog?

The reason why I only kept half an eye really on the NHL game is I attended the Houston Aeros’ Game 7, 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals. The Aeros became only the third club in AHL history — and second Aeros’ team — to win two Game 7′s on the road in the same postseason (Peoria last round).

Kevin Constantine — or KC, as I’ve learned he’s called — won three Game 7′s as an NHL head coach — all three on the road, meaning that’s 5-0 in the NHL and AHL. And he says it’s even better because he did the same thing a few times in junior.

“I have no idea why, either. I wish I did,” Constantine laughed.

By the way, and I’m sure it’s been written by Ms. Conduct & Gang on their great Aeros’ blog, but the playoff beards are out and Constantine’s got the chops going for sideburns. Great story on that I’ll probably throw into the paper tomorrow.

They’re the triangle sideburns all the way down his cheek. Very John Fogertyish. I’ll think of a better description and blog it during my drive home (I’ll pull over first, I promise). And if you don’t know what Constantine looks like, he’s got red hair, so it’s a great look. I nearly almost took a picture of Constantine just for the blog with my camera phone while I was interviewing him, but to be quite honest, Constantine scares me.

Oops, thought of one. It kinda looks like this — Hans Klopek from the Tom Hanks’ movie, the Burbs (as a kid, I toured the Universal lot when they were filming that movie) — only much more grown in and nothing on his chin.

hans.jpg

After losing 7-0 in Game 6, the Aeros shockingly bounced back. Corey Locke and Krys Kolanos scored 49 ticks apart in the first, Milwaukee cut it to 2-1 and then there were several tense moments until the third as the unorthodox Anton Khudobin made some great saves and offered some heart attacks. He’s raw folks, very raw.

Clayton Stoner, who played a great game, scored a huge power-play goal, then former Admiral Tony “Circus” Hrkac set up former Admiral Bryan Lundbohm for the backbreaker on a beauty of a 2-on-1. Locke popped one in an empty net.

Justin Falk, I thought, was the best defenseman. Outstanding game, especially in the third. Robbie Earl can skate like one of those NHL ’95 games I used to play where you can press a couple buttons and the player goes into turbo boost speed. He’s one of the best skaters I’ve ever seen. Effortless, like the Niedermayers, but with more speed, believe it or not. Danny Irmen played a solid game as well. A couple other players didn’t play so well, but I won’t mention them and one particular because I’ll keep it positive for a change (give it a guess though).

I had other things I wrote down, and of course, I left the paper in my car (I didn’t blog last night because there was no wireless in the Bradley Center). I also watched the game from owner Craig Leipold’s suite along with Tom Lynn, Chris Snow and pro scout Todd Woodcroft — on condition the words “GM” and “search” never came out of my mouth :)

I appreciate the invite by Leipold. He’s a lot less stressed during non-Wild games, but still stressed enough. So it was interesting to get that up-close perspective. Next year I plan on watching every game from the owners’ suite at the X :)

Leipold had the Aeros over to his home earlier in the series, and he said it was a blast. So Leipold’s current farm team knocked off his old farm team — and actually the Wild eliminated Nashville twice if you consider the last home game of the NHL season. And continuing the theme I mentioned before the series, Tom Lynn beat Paul Fenton in the battle of the Wild GM candidates. Just a joke.

Funny moment during the game. They flashed the Marlins-Brewers score. I had no clue the Marlins were in town, and one of my best friends happens to be one of their announcers. I phoned (Canadian verb) him, happened to catch him between innings and we got to hang after the game for the first time since last hockey season when the Wild was in S. Fla. (he’s a Panthers’ announcer, too).

So that was cool and random. I know I had other things to mention, but I’m on little sleep and it’s on that sheet of paper that’s conveniently in the car. I’ll hop back on later.

So, after the game, the Aeros took a bus to Chicago to spend the night. They fly to Winnipeg today and open the conference finals against the Manitoba Moose on Friday-Saturday.

I have to hit the road for five-plus hours. It was a cool trip over to Milwaukee to see the Wild’s farm team in person for the first time.

Digesting today’s big news; Quinn, MacLean, Bright young stars interested in GM job

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

(updated) 

OK, I’m back from a long walk along the Mississippi in an attempt to decompress.

It’s amazing how in two words (not that it went like this), “You’re fired!” changes everything.

Think about it.

Suddenly the frontrunners for the coach may change. Suddenly the Wild’s style may change. Suddenly the players who feel like they’re teflon may change. Suddenly the Wild’s philosophy’s may change, especially when it comes to drafting, trading and free agency.

The direction of the Wild changes forever just by two words.

Look, I like Doug Risebrough personally. I don’t want to stomp on somebody that just got this type of news. And the fact of the matter is, a lot of futures, and those of people I like and respect, are suddenly up in the air inside the front office and elsewhere.

But this needed to happen.

I didn’t think it would, mostly because of Craig Leipold’s history of being patient and also by witnessing the way the two co-existed as recent as the second-to-last road game of the season in Detroit.

But clearly he had the stomach for it.

And again, this needed to happen. Everybody who reads me regularly knows that I have been a giant critic of the way Risebrough has operated the past year. If you read my last three or four columns, you know my opinions well, and I’ll tell ya, it’s not easy when you’re on an island by yourself.

But where I really turned was Monday. At the news conference, Risebrough opened up with these words: “One of the things I regret as a manager not doing is managing the expectation a little bit.”

It was one of the most arrogant, insulting things I’ve ever heard from a GM that didn’t make the playoffs. It took every ounce of energy in me not to get the carving knives out yet again.

Want some contrast? Watch Edmonton’s Steve Tambellini at the Craig MacTavish press conference. He was angry, he raised expectations, he said everything needed to change, including evaluating the way things are done in the front office.

Risebrough? Expectations were too high. The fans need to be more patient. The media, especially that idiot at the Strib, doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It is unacceptable to miss the playoffs. It is unacceptable to continue a philosophy where you don’t mind losing quality assets for nothing. It is unacceptable to not come to the rescue at the trade deadline when there are deals to be made.

People are paying real money to watch this team, and teams around the Wild are getting better. Somebody needed to stand up and say, “This isn’t good enough,” as I wrote two Sundays ago, and amazingly, Leipold did.

The Wild needed to change philosophy here, and to do that, the man in charge needed to go. That’s unfortunate, because like I said, Doug is a good person. But that’s the way it works in the cruel world of pro sports.

Simply, what Risebrough accomplished here — and yes, he made an expansion team competitive — didn’t warrant a job for life.

Leipold couldn’t take the risk that disillusioned season-ticket holders would disappear if he stuck with the same man at the helm. And he couldn’t take the risk that Risebrough would hire a coach he could control rather than the best man available and he couldn’t take the risk that the Draft would be messed up or that nothing would change as far as free agency goes.

This was a chance to get somebody in here who could hire his own man as coach and who would look at everything with new eyes. No previous opinions. No allegiances to certain players or people. No hatred toward the agent of the best player in franchise history. 

A new direction, and that is a good thing.

What’s amazing to me here is how nobody knew. Even Tom Lynn and Chris Snow and the majority of employees found out today, and this happened Tuesday.

It’s interesting, but my radar went up yesterday because a bunch of players had their meetings with Risebrough cancelled, but I just figured he was interviewing MacTavish or something. Yeah, right.

I hear Risebrough got on his Harley and drove.

Now, to move forward here, I talked to a lot of people today — some on the record, some off — who want this job. Many people have already solicited Leipold.

Here is the story with some candidates.

If it were me, I’d be on the next plane to Chuck Fletcher, the Pittsburgh assistant GM. I know him well, and the guy is one smart dude. I know Jay Feaster’s called already. I talked to Pat Quinn and Doug MacLean, who are very interested. I believe Neil Smith would like it. I think Rick Dudley would be a great candidate. I believe Pierre McGuire would be an interesting choice (he’s long been interested in getting into management), as would Nashville Director of Hockey Ops Mike Santos and assistant GM Paul Fenton.

You can see the list I’ve compiled. You can bet they’d be interested in Dave Nonis, but I can’t see Brian Burke letting him go from Toronto. Jim Nill in Detroit has been coveted by many, but he never leaves. Lots of people will line up.

Normally I’d think Tom Lynn would be a candidate, but Leipold made clear today he’s looking for “new eyes.”

Said Leipold, “If I’m someone out in the NHL, and this job is available, with the kind of players we have coming back next year and the kind of fan base, I would jump all over this.”

Had to trim this out of the sidebar, but I asked Quinn what he’d want more — coach or GM. He said, “I’ve enjoyed both jobs, am capable of doing both and have had success at both. I know the top job is the manager, but the one with more action as far as being in the heat of battle is the coach’s job. I’m certainly drawn to that. I’d be interested about either position.”

I’m sure I’ll be back on Friday.