The Minnesota Wild have ramped up their search for a new general manager and their list of candidates has grown considerably as a result.
Last week we reported on the fact that the Wild had reached out to the Nashville Predators for permission to speak to veteran National Hockey League executive Paul Fenton and furthermore that they had been granted permission by the Predators to do so. At the time it seemed like it could be a very short search for the Wild when you consider the fact that rumors suggested Fenton was a heavy favorite to land the job as the Wild's next general manager. In fact Fenton would be quickly interviewed by the Wild despite the fact that the Predators are in the midst of a playoff run lending further credence to the belief that this one could be over quickly.
Now however a new report from Minnesota Wild insider Mike Russo has revealed that, despite the rumors surrounding Fenton and the likelihood that he will get the job in the end, the Wild will be conducting a full and extensive search for their next general manager. In fact according to Russo there are now three additional candidates for the job on top of Fenton himself, bringing the list of total candidates to four.
According to Russo Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold met with controversial former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. on Tuesday for an interview regarding the vacant general manager's position, Wild team president Matt Majka was also reportedly present during that interview. The Wild are also expected to conduct at least one more interview this week, reports suggesting that they will meet with New Jersey Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald, although in theory they could continue to meet with several more candidates before eventually making their final decision.
That makes three candidates when you include Fenton, but apparently the Wild also quietly met with a fourth man around the same time that they interviewed Fenton for the job. According to Russo the Wild sat down with Columbus Blue Jackets assistant general manager Bill Zito just one day after they sat down with Fenton to discuss the vacant position. It's unclear how any of these interviews were perceived by the Wild's upper management at this time, but it's believed that Fenton still remains the favorite at this time.
While this is purely speculation, Russo believes that the Minnesota Wild may merely be looking to buy time here by going through the motions of the interview process, time that stems from the respect that Wild owner Craig Leopold has for Nashville Predators general manager David Poile. Russo could see a scenario where the Wild are merely waiting until the conclusion of the second round playoff series between the aforementioned Predators and the Winnipeg Jets before announcing that they have hired Fenton as their next general manager.
The move would allow the Wild to avoid any potential distractions during the middle of the series and would allow Fenton to bow out gracefully at the end of the Predators run for the Stanley Cup with his future already set in stone.
No word yet on what this means for members of the Wild's front office, or even head coach Bruce Boudreau moving forward.