Chuck Fletcher can watch playoff hockey again. The emotions of a challenging regular season were still too fresh during the earliest rounds to appreciate the hockey being played by his rivals. This season, the Minnesota Wild jumped out to one of the NHL's most surprising starts and in December looked like a lock to be playing beyond 82 games. Then injuries crushed the optimism. It was a painful reminder of how little depth the organization had accumulated at this point in the rebuild under Fletcher. It won't be a problem much longer.
After a couple of trips to Europe and some time to heal the disappointment, Fletcher is tuning in to playoff hockey again.
"Now, we're six or seven weeks into our offseason," Fletcher said when we chatted late Wednesday afternoon. "You're able to appreciate the hockey. I've really enjoyed it."
On Wednesday, the Wild seized some of the spotlight from the final four remaining playoff teams with their announcement that prized prospect Mikael Granlund had finally signed an entry level deal. Mike Russo of the StarTribune broke down the deal in detail on his blog. The announcement is huge news in Granlund's native Finland, where his agent, Todd Diamond, compared his popularity to that of the Beatles.
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