ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild has had a great run of mediocrity. Seriously, no one has done more with less than them.
Aside from a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2003, they have either missed the playoffs or lost in the first round.
The roster is loaded with talented players: Mikko Koivu, Martin Havlat, Matt Cullen, Brent Burns, Pierre- Marc Bouchard and Cal Clutterbuck are all great players and scorers, but they aren't the dynamic scorers that the Wild need to become a Western Conference power.
After their loss to San Jose Thursday night, Todd Richards was asked by Star-Tribune beat writer Mike Russo -- one of the best hockey writers in the game - if Richards felt like he had the guys to match up with the Sedin's (Vancouver Canucks) Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks).
He responded that he felt he had the players, I politely disagree.
The Wild's leading scorer is Martin Havlat who has 21 goals and 60 points.
Look at the teams in the lead of each division as of Friday (March 18:
Philadelphia (Atlantic): Jeff Carter - 32 goals (61 points)
Boston (Northeast): Milan Lucic - 29 goals (53 points)
Washington (Southeast): Alex Ovechkin - 29 goals (75 points)
Detroit (Central): Johan Franzen - 27 Goals (51 points)
Vancouver (NW Division): Daniel Sedin- 38 Goals (92 points)
San Jose (Pacific): Patrick Marleau - 28 goals (57 points)
There is an obvious disparity, and it's the reason the Wild are fighting tooth and nail just to make the playoffs, rather than lead their division. As long as they have their current roster, it will stay that way.
You may argue that it's due to coaching, but I disagree. Todd Richards has a good system and he's done what he can with the players he has, just as Jacques Lemaire did before him. And I will NEVER doubt Lemaire's ability to coach.
Minnesota has a great supporting cast, but is lacking that one star, that player that can create on the offensive end and can score at will.
That guy used to be Marian Gaborik, but he is gone, and it's time to find the next one either through the draft or free agency.
No one remembers the film that finishes second place, only the one that wins best picture. Minnesota hasn't even made the final list yet. If they want any hope of doing that, they're going to have to go and out find that best actor.
Until they do, they will always just be the runner up.
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