Ex-Wild GM didn't expect firing, doesn't see Gaborik as influence

Former Minnesota Wild President/GM Doug Risebrough held a debriefing today (at a pub, no less ... gotta love old school hockey guys) that featured some interesting insights into his rather surprising dismissal ...

• Risebrough said team owner Craig Leipold didn't discuss the dismissal with him, nor did Leipold discuss a contract extension. "I was in shock," he told the Pioneer Press.

• Michael Russo of the Star Tribune's must-read coverage of the press conference yielded two revelations. First, that the strained relationship between the ex-GM and star forward Marian Gaborik's representation didn't lead to his release, according to Risebrough:

He admitted that there were lots of problems he's had with agent Ron Salcer from Day One of Salcer taking Gaborik over from agent Allan Walsh. He said he and Salcer never spoke. "I get along with everybody. I think so. I've had a couple calls from agents. This was just an unusual one."

But he doesn't believe the relationship was a factor in his getting fired.

• Russo also discusses perhaps the most discussed criticism of Risebrough's recent management of the team: a lack of aggressive moves. From the Star Tribune:

Risebrough said every decision he made with the Wild was done for the right reasons, and he knows he didn't make all right decisions. I asked him - and this is what I was told from well-placed sources - about Leipold's discontent with his conservative nature and the fact that he didn't create some financial flexibility at this year's trade deadline to make it easier to get Backstrom and Gaborik under the same salary cap for a long time.

After a long, "ahhhhhh," Risebrough decided to decline comment because conversations with Leipold behind the scenes were "privy conversations." Unlike many GM's, Risebrough is proud that he never made moves in Minnesota -- especially in the last year of his deal -- to save his own job.

Then again, the team missed the playoffs and he's out of a job. So questioning that philosophy is valid, no?

Russo believes Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Chuck Fletcher is on the Wild radar for the gig; as are a number of the kind of old-school hockey men you'd expect to hear up for the job ... but few rising stars in the managerial ranks. In the end, the call should come for the GM that can best move this organization forward from the Risebrough/Lemaire years. The question is whether that change comes from an old-school hockey guy like Pat Quinn or an assistant GM hungry for the chance to run a team.

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