As stressful as the NHL lockout was for Craig Leipold, he never lost the feeling of being both team owner and hockey fan.
So Leipold, the majority owner of the Wild and a constant presence for the owners during negotiations with the NHL Players' Association, wore a big smile when he walked into Minnesota's dressing room at the Xcel Energy Center after the 119-day lockout ended.
And Wild players welcomed him.
"There were no hard feelings whatsoever," Liepold said by phone from Exuma, an island in the Bahamas where he is taking a brief vacation. "When I got in the locker room there were nothing but high-fives and belly-bumps and big hugs. There was no question that this thing was behind every player in the room and everybody was behind me.
"It was very evident that all they cared about now was playing hockey."
Leipold, who forked out contracts worth $196 million over 13 years to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter during the offseason, said he is so excited about the Wild's chances this season that he has zero concern about possibly losing money during the shortened season.
"First of all, I'm just glad we got our 48-game season," he said. "You take what you can get in this; there was a time when I really didn't think we'd get any games in."
Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, after NHL lockout: 'We've lived through the pain'
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Jan 25