During a recent edition of SportsNet’s HockeyCentral Trade Tracker, the panel discussed the possibility of Minnesota Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky being dealt before the February 27 trade deadline.
The 35-year-old defenseman has had a tense relationship with Wild coach Mike Yoe, even criticizing the way the bench boss has treated him. Yoe has apparently tried to change the blueliner’s game, which Zidlicky blames for his poor showing this season and the recent string of games where he has been made a healthy scratch, as he told Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune.
I can’t be quiet. I think three games healthy scratch, it’s more than just like a healthy scratch. [Yeo's] put me in this position that I am in right now. It’s not easy for me. It’s good for team probably because the guys played pretty well the last two games, but for me, I did everything what he wants me to do. I played like 17, 18 minutes ice time, I play just third, fourth line, I stood on the blue line, I didn’t do anything what I did years before. He said everything I do with the puck and without the puck, it’s wrong. So I have a little different opinion.
Asked whether his problems with his coach might persuade him to waive the no-trade clause in his contract more easily, Zidlicky said that it was a possibility. However, his priority at the moment is to make things work in Minnesota.
That’s, that’s the option, too. That’s only what I’m thinking right now because I still love hockey. That’s my whole life. Every player likes hockey and nobody likes to be healthy scratch three games, four games. It doesn’t help yourself, it doesn’t help your team, it doesn’t help anybody. I’m just thinking it’s pretty tough right now for me. My son, he’s in first grade and he needs both parents here. So it’s very tough. I don’t want to be selfish, go somewhere and I will be happy and leave my son here in the school. So, we will see. I just wanted to say something about this situation because a lot of guys are writing something different about me and I just wanted to tell you my opinion.
While Zidlicky has final say on whether he gets moved or not, it’s plausible that Wild general manger Chuck Fletcher will try to accommodate a trade out of town for the veteran in order to rid the team of any distractions.
Even Yeo hinted to Russo that if Zidlicky can’t buy into his system, perhaps a move out of town will be better for everybody.
For me, I’ve always been one to be able to forgive. But this is going to be something we’re going to talk about as a group even. I’m going to talk to Zid. This is about how we learn and get better, and for him, players always decide. You think he would be out of the lineup today if he was playing really well? His play dictates that, how he handles this dictates that. He is a really good player. And he has the potential to be a great player and our team can’t be as good as it can be until we get everybody playing up to their potential. But I’ve never asked him to change. I’ve never asked him to be someone other than what he is. Every player is the same. We have a bunch of different players contributing in different ways. They all have different roles. We ask them to play their game, do it their way, but do it within the team concept. And it works. That’s what he needs to do.
Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail both suggest that teams looking for a puck-moving defenseman that can help their powerplays will show interest if Zidlicky were to be made available.
The HockeyCentral panel listed seven teams as possible destinations: Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers, and the New York Rangers.
A return to Nashville may be the best fit for Zidlicky. The long-time Predator still has the respect of his former coach Barry Trotz.
Z is a talented player, and he at times can be quite creative, almost to a fault. He has a tremendous skill level. He was an important player for us a few years back. Players go through that.
Zidlicky has one year left on his contract and a salary of $4.0 million (same as his cap hit), which could be a little pricey for a budget-conscious like Nashville.