Apr 28, 2019

By Tom Witosky

Follow @toskyAHLWild

Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold visited Des Moines this week to watch some playoff hockey and to gather his top staff for the group’s annual meeting.

“It’s a good place for a meeting and while we have been inside all day, the weather has been gorgeous,” Leipold said Tuesday night between the first and second periods of the Iowa Wild’s 6-1 victory over Milwaukee.

Scheduled originally to meet in Racine, WI, Leipold’s hometown, the owner couldn’t resist the opportunity to watch the Iowa Wild play in its first playoff series since moving from Houston six seasons ago.

Leipold also brought along the top front office brass including Minnesota President Matt Majka, Minnesota CFO Jeff Pellgrom, Minnesota General Manager Paul Fenton, Iowa General Manager and Minnesota Assistant General Manager Tom Kurvers and Minnesota Head Coach Bruce Boudreau with him.

What Leipold saw on and off the ice had him smiling and talking about the future for both the Minnesota and Iowa Wild.

“We are here to stay,” Leipold said. “We love it down here and our organization has become very entrenched here in the community.”

The team owner also said it’s clear Des Moines fans have adopted the team and said players “love it down here.”

As a result, the Wild organization is considering its options to improve the club’s practice facilities in the area. One possibility is involving itself with the proposed construction of the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex in West Des Moines.

No final decision has been made, but the Wild is interested, Leipold said.

“We certainly are going to be supportive and would like to be part of it,” he said. “We have made no final decisions, but we are clearly going to be here long term and for that to happen, we need it to be part of that as well.”

Leipold also said he has been impressed with Iowa’s team and that the young players now with the AHL team should see opportunity in St. Paul in the future.

“We are going younger and we are going faster, quicker,” the team owner said, pointing out that the Wild already are no longer the oldest team in the league. “If I were on this team right now and the way they are playing and the energy that they have, I think we have some spots for them up in St. Paul.”

Leipold also gave a strong endorsement of how Fenton is approaching the changes within the Wild organization. He said the emphasis on family has paid dividends; for example in Iowa, where players talk often about how close the team is this season as a reason for its success.

“Paul Fenton is all about family. We want to be part of the community and with our players their wives and girlfriends. We want everyone to feel like this is a home for them,” Leipold said.

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