New club has edge on NHL’s previous expansion teams

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016

With the new franchise’s prospects on the ice in front of them at the team’s first rookie camp, Minnesota Wild general manager Doug Risebrough sat down next to director of hockey operations Tom Lynn and asked for an initial assessment.

The good news was veteran coach Jacques Lemaire looked energized in his return to the NHL bench for the 2000-01 season.

The bad?

Email newsletter signup

“Well, he’s got the best shot out there,” Lynn quipped to Risebrough.

Such was the state of a first-year team, pieced together with experienced players the rest of the league didn’t need and newbies with largely unfulfilled potential. The Wild that season had plenty of “Casey Stengel moments,” Lynn’s label in reference to the manager of the 1962 New York Mets. They lost 120 games in their Major League Baseball debut.

The Wild’s first edition wasn’t that bad, but they finished 14th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference. That was one spot behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, who with the Wild were the last clubs to enter the league until the recent award of a franchise to Las Vegas.