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Plenty of changes loom for Wild

The Sports Xchange
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For the fourth consecutive season -- the third under General Manager Chuck Fletcher -- and sixth time in eight seasons, the Minnesota Wild's season came to an end after the regular season.

"I think every one of us has to accept our share of the responsibility here," coach Mike Yeo said. "As much as anything, we have to use this feeling that we have right now. It's an empty, disappointed, embarrassing feeling, and we have to use that -- every one of us -- as a force that drives you to be better next year."

The Wild will have significant changes on the ice. As many as six prospects will be turning pro (forwards Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Johan Larsson, Brett Bulmer, Jason Zucker and Zack Phillips and defenseman Jonas Brodin). A handful, like Finnish star Granlund, will have legitimate chances to make the team.

The Wild will also make huge runs at potential New Jersey Devils free agent Zach Parise, a Minnesota native, and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter.

If the Wild strikes out, Fletcher says, "We have the available cap space and young assets to make a good trade, too."

As for the season as a whole, Fletcher says, "It hasn't ended the way we wanted and it has been very disappointing to miss the playoffs after the start we had. I think going into the season we recognized we weren't the most gifted offensive team and we were going to have to play a team game and a strong defensive game to be successful.

"We did that for a while, but as the season progressed, essentially our entire second line was pretty much deleted from the organization."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT
From Oct. 29 to Dec. 10, the Wild won 17 of 21 games to land atop the NHL standings. It was 20-7-3, was the first team to 20 wins and 40 points, was the best road team in the NHL and the best comeback team (12 of 20 wins when the opponent scored first).

TURNING POINT
Dec. 13 happened. Starting with a 2-1 loss at Winnipeg, the Wild plummeted in the standings on a 5-17-6 stretch. In a 48-hour span between Dec. 13 and 14, the Wild lost Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Guillaume Latendresse to injuries. Devin Setoguchi was already out. The Wild didn't have the depth to withstand the loss of four top-six forwards.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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