Wild owner Craig Leipold knows it’s hard to win the Stanley Cup: ‘I’m getting a little itchy’

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			Wild owner Craig Leipold knows it’s hard to win the Stanley Cup: ‘I’m getting a little itchy’
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Wild owner Craig Leipold has turned the page.

As disappointed as he was about the early playoff exit in the spring — the Wild bowed to the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs — Leipold wasn’t thinking about that as he watched Thursday’s preseason game at Xcel Energy Center.

Instead, he was cheering loudly from his owner’s suite as top prospect Marco Rossi scored a goal to get the Wild going on their way to a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

“He’s an NHL player,” Leipold said. “Not that I decide who’s playing.”

Though coach Dean Evason won’t confirm that Rossi has made the team, it seems like a pretty good bet that he will be on the roster for the Oct. 13 season opener against the New York Rangers. Not only has Rossi impressed throughout training camp, he clearly has Leipold’s full support.

“He’s going to be a fun player for us to watch,” Leipold said. “He’s an easy guy to cheer for.”

Those are the type of players that make Leipold excited about the future. He has high hopes for what the Wild can accomplish this season after a very disappointing end to last season.

“I was not a nice person to be around for like the week,” Leipold said. “I wasn’t ready for it. We had a better team than that. It didn’t happen. We didn’t win the games we needed to win. The entire organization was just sick about that.”

Asked about what he expects heading into this season, Leipold refused to get too far ahead of himself. He doesn’t know if the Wild will top their franchise-record 113 points from last season. He was honest about that.

“That’s a helluva lot of points,” Leipold said. “That’s not our goal.”

What is the goal? He wants to get out of the first round, first and foremost.

“I think that’s a fair expectation to have,” Leipold said. “I think we have a team that can do it. There’s a lot of good things that have to happen. We know that. We have to work hard enough so those good things happen to us.”

After buying the Wild back in 2008, Leipold confirmed at Thursday’s preseason game that he has no plans of selling the team anytime soon, saying, “I’m totally in it for the long haul.”

He’s hoping to bring a Stanley Cup to Minnesota sooner rather than later. He’s watched other teams do it year after year, and he’s yearning to hoist the hardware himself.

“I’m getting a little itchy,” Leipold said. “I look back at teams that have done it a number of times including Chicago and Tampa Bay and all the teams that have done it. You’ve got to have a lot of respect for those teams because it’s a hard thing to win. It’s a hard thing to get out of the first round.”

As the Wild prepare for this season, Leipold truly believes the window is open for them to be very good for a very long time. After the disappointment of last season, though, Leipold is also trying to focus on the small steps of a much bigger process.

“Our goal is to get out of the first round,” Leipold said. “That’s our goal. We take steps. Let’s first all get out of the first round and then we’ll see what happens.”

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