Wild Interview Hurricanes GM Don Waddell In "Unique" Situation
The Wild's search for a new GM continued this week with two more in-person interviews, and "one is as unique as it gets in any offseason," according to Michael Russo of THE ATHLETIC. Sources said that Wild Owner Craig Leipold and President Matt Majka interviewed current Hurricanes President & GM Don Waddell, who was a GM of the Year finalist this past season. Waddell's contract expired June 30 and Hurricanes Owner Tom Dundon has "yet to sign his head of hockey ops and the business side of the team to a new contract," meaning that Waddell is "theoretically a free agent." As "unheard of as it was for the Wild to fire GM Paul Fenton so late in the offseason, it's equally abnormal that, five weeks before the start of training camp, another team's GM would be available to interview for a similar role with another team." It seemed everything Waddell touched last season "turned to gold." Meanwhile, Penguins Assistant GM Bill Guerin is also a "very legitimate candidate" for the Wild GM job. Hockey HOFer Mike Modano is "assisting Leipold and Majka in hiring the Wild's fourth GM in history" (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/6).
CONFUSING SITUATION: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes over the course of a summer where the Hurricanes have done "solid business to upgrade their roster, their front office has already seen a considerable exodus." If Waddell departs, it would "not only be unprecedented, but also it would leave the Hurricanes rudderless at a moment when they desperately need to capitalize on the momentum of last spring’s playoff run." Waddell yesterday said that it has been "business as usual" for him with the Hurricanes since he returned from his in-person interview with the Wild. Waddell said of his relationship with Dundon, "Tom doesn't believe in a lot of contracts. Tom's told me I have a job for life. But he's also encouraged me to explore other opportunities to see what the market will pay." DeCock writes for everything Dundon has done with the Hurricanes, it is "curious how the general manager position has become, and remains, an unusual source of controversy and consternation." Dundon said, "I'm not going to pay what other guys pay GMs, so me having a contract with a GM doesn't really help me. Don in essence has a contract. I already told Don, 'I'm not going to fire you.'" DeCock writes the whole debate has a "surreal aspect to it, because whether it's Waddell or someone else, NHL bylaws require" the Hurricanes to have a GM "under contract by the end of the month" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/7).