The Minnesota Wild have fired general manager Paul Fenton, with assistant general manager Tom Kurvers to take over on an interim basis until the replacement is discovered.
Fenton had just one year on the job as GM of the Wild. His team went 37-36-9 and Minnesota missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.
The Wild scored a disappointing 211 goals for and allowed 237 goals against, which tilted their advantage to goaltending and defence.
“After giving much thought to this difficult decision, I informed Paul today that he was not the right fit for our organization going forward,” Wild owner Craig Leipold said. “I believe we have a good hockey team, a team that will compete for a playoff spot this year, and I look forward to hiring a general manager that will help us win a Stanley Cup. I would like to thank Paul for his time with the Wild and wish him and his family the best in the future.”
Fenton was tasked with a number of moves in his single year with Minnesota, starting with extensions to Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker. The latter was just one of three Wild players with over 20 goals in 2018-2019, but there were rumours that he was on his way out of town.
Like most rumours, nothing came to fruition.
Fenton also traded Nino Niederreiter to Carolina for Victor Rask, a cap-oriented move that didn’t see many advantages for Minnesota. Rask managed just three points in 23 games after the trade, while it could be argued that Niederreiter found his game with the Hurricanes.
At the trade deadline, Fenton swapped Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato and wound up trading Mikael Granlund to Nashville for Kevin Fiala. It was the latter trade that really seemed to resonate, with many analysts believing that the Minnesota general manager could’ve received more return on Granlund.
Fenton also inked forward Mats Zuccarello to a five-year contract on July 1, which speaks to the timing of this firing. Why on earth did the Wild wait until after the draft and after free agency to fire this guy? Why not allow any new general manager to put his fingerprints on the hockey club right away?
Fenton was just the third GM in Minnesota history. He had 12 years of experience as assistant general manager under David Poile in Nashville.
But it’s likely Minnesota will be looking for someone with more experience, which could put the likes of Dean Lombardi or Ron Hextall in their sights.
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