MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Wild have fired general manager Paul Fenton after just one rough season, marked by the end of a six-year streak of making the playoffs and a disassembly of the once-promising core of forwards by trading Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter prior to the deadline.
Wild owner Craig Leipold said he told Fenton of his dismissal on Tuesday, shortly before the team made the surprising late-summer announcement.
”After giving much thought to this difficult decision, I informed Paul today that he was not the right fit for our organization going forward,” Leipold said in a statement distributed by the Wild. “I believe we have a good hockey team, a team that will compete for a playoff spot this year, and I look forward to hiring a general manager that will help us win a Stanley Cup. I would like to thank Paul for his time with the Wild and wish him and his family the best in the future.”
Assistant general manager Tom Kurvers was named acting general manager, until a replacement is hired.
In less than 15 months with the Wild, Fenton made plenty of waves.
Though his first foray in free agency was relatively quiet, Fenton re-signed defenseman Matt Dumba (five years, $30 million) and left wing Jason Zucker (five years, $27.5 million) to long-term contracts.
Then with the Wild struggling to keep up in the daunting Central Division, he traded Niederreiter to Carolina for Victor Rask, Coyle to Boston for Ryan Donato and a fourth-round draft pick and Mikael Granlund to Nashville for Kevin Fiala. Coyle and Niederreiter had productive debuts with their new clubs, which didn’t help assuage any angst-filled fans frustrated that the 19-year-old franchise has not passed the second round of the playoffs since 2003.
Bruce Boudreau was brought back as head coach despite the drop in the standings. Then Fenton signed forward Mats Zuccarello to a five-year, $30 million deal with a full no-trade clause, as well as forward Ryan Hartman on a two-year, $3.8 million contract.
Fenton was hired from Nashville, where he was the long-time lieutenant under general manager David Poile.