Wild turfs boring hockey style

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

These aren't the Minnesota Wild you've grown to know and despise for their ability to kill a hockey game.

Heading into tonight's contest against the Edmonton Oilers, the Wild are under new leadership, with a new philosophy and a new approach to the game.

"The one thing is, talking with (assistant coach) Mike Ramsey, who has been here in years past, is that hockey is hockey," said Wild rookie head coach Todd Richards.

"You're not going to come in and invent a new forecheck, you're not going to invent a new neutral zone.

"For me, the biggest difference from (former head coach) Jacques (Lemaire's) system and belief to how we want to play, is that when we don't have the puck, Jacques's system was to just back up and defend.

"Now when we don't have the puck, we want to go get the puck. I guess that means we have a little bit more aggressive style when we don't have the puck."

Lemaire was notorious for the defensive system he employed in his eight seasons behind the Wild bench. Minnesota was a team that would frustrate its opponents and bore fans to death.

Under Richards and new general manager Chuck Fletcher, the Wild are looking to be a more up-tempo club.

"We still want to go when we have the puck, we want to create when we have the puck and play in the other team's zone," Richards said. "We've taken some big steps forwards and some steps back. It's a lot of new ideas and new concepts for these guys and we're still adjusting to one another."

Having played under one system for so long, it might take some time before the Wild free themselves from the shackles of trapping hockey.

In times of desperation, they often find themselves resorting back to the system ingrained into them under Lemaire.

"It is a big adjustment -- 90% of the team is used to playing a sit-back style and when you come in and totally change it, there is going to be an adjustment period," said Wild forward Kyle Brodziak.

"I think guys are starting to get more familiar with it and it's just a matter of eliminating some mental mistakes and growing as a team."


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