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FILE – In this July 29, 2016, file photo, Minnesota Vikings coach Eric Sugarman walks off the field during day one of the NFL football team’s training camp at the University of Mankato State in Mankato, Minnesota. Vikings Vice President of Sports Medicine Sugarman has tested positive for COVID-19. Sugarman is responsible for the organization’s virus prevention plan as the infection control officer. The team announced that Sugarman and his family tested positive over the weekend. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King, File)

The Vikings’ biggest organizational shake-up since 2006 continued Monday as head athletic coach Eric Sugarman was fired after 16 seasons with the organization. Sugarman came with head coach Brad Childress from Philadelphia in 2006 and continued under Leslie Frazier and then Mike Zimmer.

That was partly because Rick Spielman was the Vikings’ general manager — he served as vice president of player personnel from 2006 to 2011 — and his presence helped keep Sugarman and others safe when Zimmer was hired in 2014. Sugarman was named Vikings. vice president of sports medicine in 2018.

But Spielman and Zimmer having both been let go in January, new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell are free to make significant changes at the TCO Performance Center and they’re taking the opportunity.

Not just with medical staff, but also with executives, coaches and players. The coaching staff has already been replaced, and with the NFL league year beginning March 16, the start of a roster overhaul will likely begin soon. As far as the football operations department is concerned, changes in scouting personnel and elsewhere generally don’t happen until the project is complete.

  • Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell are the opposite of Spielman and Zimmer when it comes to how they work from a public relations perspective. It’s not a mistake. Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were clearly fed up with the way Zimmer treated the media because that’s what fans saw. Spielman did his best to avoid local media altogether. But don’t think that Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell’s friendlier approach means they won’t do whatever they deem necessary to reshape every part of the Vikings organization. Chief operating officer Andrew Miller, who replaced Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren in August 2019, is also likely playing an important role behind the scenes.
  • The Wild were down eight of 10 after Sunday’s loss to Dallas at the Xcel Energy Center and now the question is whether this team will make the playoffs. It’s a remarkable statement considering how good the Wild looked earlier this season. What’s wrong ? Almost everything. The power play and shorthandedness are a mess, the defense has gone from strength to weakness and the team can’t win a faceoff. Kahkonen seem unable to stop a beach ball. A month ago, the question was what kind of move GM Bill Guerin could make before the March 21 trade deadline to strengthen his team for a deep playoff run? Today, the question is what measures can or should Guerin take to save the season?
  • Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the Wild’s 6-3 loss to the Stars was coach Dean Evason agreeing his team was “fragile” right now. Fragile was the old Wild roster consisting of Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and so on. Paul Fenton then Guerin eliminated these players for a reason and it was not to find more fragile players. You have to think that the Wild would be much less fragile if they had the slightest confidence that their goalie would stop a puck.
  • Alright, let’s get to the positive. Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was named NBA Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday. Wolves entered the day on a four-game winning streak and extended it to five by knocking out shorthanded Portland. Towns averaged 28 points, nine rebounds and three assists over the four games. He had 36 points, 15 rebounds and five assists Saturday in a 135-121 win over the Trail Blazers at Target Center.
  • Towns, who played in all 82 regular season games in his first three NBA seasons, has already played more games this season (59) than he did in 2019-20 (35) or last season ( 50). In his seventh NBA season, Towns, 26, appears to be a more mature player. The best way to judge that will be if Towns gets the opportunity to make a playoff appearance for the second time in his career.
  • Wolves can qualify for the playoffs by winning the play-in tournament or by finishing in the top six in the Western Conference. Despite their recent hot streak, Wolves entered Monday 3.5 games behind fifth-seeded Dallas and 2.5 games behind sixth-seeded Denver. The Mavericks had won four straight and six of seven in their game against Utah on Monday, and the Nuggets had won eight of 10 and 10 of 12 in their game against Golden State.
  • The Wild will retire Mikko Koivu’s No. 9 on Sunday before their game against Nashville at Xcel Energy Center. Former Wild players Luke Kunin and Mikael Granlund are now with the Predators. The last player from a Minnesota NHL team to retire his jersey number in the state was the late Bill Goldsworthy, whose No. 8 was elevated to the Met Center rafters on Feb. 15, 1992. It was just over a year before the team moved to Dallas. It was also over 15 years after Goldsworthy was traded to the New York Rangers. Koivu’s last game with the Wild was in August 2020 when the Wild lost in the NHL Play-Off to Vancouver in the Edmonton bubble. The Wild retired the No. 1 in honor of fans ahead of the team’s first-ever game at Xcel Energy Center, but that’s something we’d rather not discuss.
  • Goldsworthy, who died in March 1996, was the North Stars’ first star and popularized what was called the “Goldy Shuffle” for his after-goal celebration. The right winger scored 267 of his 283 NHL goals in his 10 seasons with the North Stars.
  • The North Stars only retired two numbers while based in Minnesota. Goldsworthy’s and Bill Masterton’s No. 19. Masterton died after suffering a head injury during a January 1968 game at the Met Center. His number was not reissued, but it was not retired until January 1987. The Dallas Stars have since retired Neal Broten’s number 7 and Mike Modano’s number 9.
  • Sean Shapiro of The Athletic reports that the NHL will bring back its reverse retro jersey program next season. The Wild’s jerseys – which had a North Stars look – were a hit last season, but Shapiro writes that these will be new designs. In other words, there will be more new (and expensive) products for fans to buy.