The good news is that the Minnesota Wild were not too stupid or too stubborn to cut their losses, firing Paul Fenton after just a single season as GM. The bad news is that in that limited time he managed to worsen the roster, shit up the front office, and make moves that will hamstring the team for years and years after he’s gone!
The Athletic’s Michael Russo broke the news that was only surprising because NHL teams don’t usually admit their mistakes this quickly, but Fenton has been a disaster in every aspect. In the month before the deadline, the former Preds assistant GM traded Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala, Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato, and Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask, seemingly losing every trade, especially the Rask deal, and over that same month the Wild fell out of contention.
There’s more. Fenton twice tried and failed to trade Jason Zucker, extended Eric Staal rather than trade him, and, upon the opening of free agency this summer, signed Mats Zuccarello to a five-year, $30 million deal that’ll run through his age-36 season. A nice little anchor left behind for the next GM, and potentially even the GM after that!
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There’s even more! “[S]ources said there were numerous accounts of unhappy employees throughout the organization and countless other turbulent incidents that made their way into [owner Craig] Leipold’s office.” Oh, and Fenton promoted his large adult son, with just three years of scouting experience, to run the Wild’s draft.
The timing of this firing remains strange, because if the Wild really didn’t trust Fenton, wouldn’t it have been better to do this before the draft and before free agency? And if Fenton somehow surprised them with the results of both, well, that’s just as much an indictment of ownership.