I have received a fairly high number of e-mails and texts over the last few days about Pierre-Marc Bouchard. One minute, the guy was going to (conjecture) come to Houston to rehab, then he gets a headache/pressure every time he gets on a bike or practices. Then, he's going to wait until he feels better. Since then, he's felt better and actually played for the Wild. By all counts, this guy that has missed 100+ games stepped right into the lineup and made plays.
So the majority of the questions are: "Why all the sudden do the Wild feel that P-MB does not need time to rehab in the minors to get his game going?"
Here is the best answer from Chuck Fletcher as told to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:
"In our opinion, it didn't make any sense," he said. "He's an NHL player, and he's practiced hard and he's ready to play. Regardless of whether he goes to Houston or not, there's going to be an adjustment period. He's played one game in about 18 months. We thought the sooner we could get him playing NHL games, the sooner he could get his timing back and catch up.
"It just made sense to get him going and have him get on the ice to play with his teammates."
And here is another quote from that same story from Lou Nanne:
"This is going to help big time," former North Stars executive, coach and player Lou Nanne said. "If he can play the rest of year, this is going to make a difference of 20, 25 goals. Right away, he's the best play-maker they've got. One thing he can do is give people opportunities; he's done that his whole career."
I know more about public relations that I do hockey, and the dish from Fletcher is pure P.R.
See, Fletcher cannot go on the record and say that his team is mediocre, underachieving and needs a guy that has missed 104 games to make his team better. Think about it, P-MB missed more than a year of hockey and stepped right in as one of the team's best play-makers. If you are the Wild, do you want that guy playing "please don't get hurt" in Houston? No, you want him in Minnesota where he is better than 85 % of the other players on the roster. Fact: the Wild is far closer to being the worst team in the NHL than it is to winning a Stanley Cup.
They are not going to make the playoffs with P-MB in Houston, so there is no need to send him here to work on his game. If you read Russo's blog this week, the time is now for the Wild. They need to start piling up the wins, because mediocre teams on the outside of the playoffs looking in this time of year do not often qualify for the playoffs in the Spring.
And here is my take on the situation. If you are P-MB, you know the next time you take a licking, your hockey career is over. It is no longer a matter of "if" for the gifted center. You are just one of a very few number of guys who ever get to dress at that level. Do you want to see your career come to and end in front of 2,462 people in San Antonio? No.
Here is an excerpt from Russo's blog. As you can see, they need to win ... now!
Right now, the Wild's four points back with 58 games to go in 13th place.
And so far there’s been no solution – 24 games in.