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“I look back over the season, and we did a lot of good things,” he said. “I think we accomplished some things. It probably doesn’t feel that way, but that’s how I feel. To me there was growth: growth in players, the chemistry, the culture and things we want to build upon here. But still it leaves you with that disappointment of the finish.”

Fletcher’s list of what went right this season included the return of forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard from a concussion, the improvement of center Kyle Brodziak, the productivity of forward Cal Clutterbuck, the emergence of young defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Clayton Stoner, the work ethic of veterans Andrew Brunette and John Madden and the performance of goalies Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore.

Fletcher didn’t mention All-Stars Brent Burns or Martin Havlat, two players who may not have meshed with Richards. Captain Mikko Koivu’s 17 goals and 45 assists seemed to fall short of what’s expected from a player who signed a seven-year, $47.25 million contract extension that kicks in next season.

As players packed up equipment, the mood at the arena on Monday was somber.

“I think the players, all of us here in the dressing room, are responsible for it, so it’s not a good day,” Havlat said.

The Wild reached as high as fifth place after the All-Star break, but Koivu missed 11 games with a broken finger and they started a slump that they never snapped out of. Minnesota went 2-10-1 from March 10 through April 7 before winning the last two games.

“We feel we were definitely good enough to be there and for whatever reason it didn’t happen. We’re going to do that much more next season to get there,” Clutterbuck said.

Brunette, Madden and Antti Miettinen _ three of the top 10 scorers this season _ lead the list of unrestricted free agents, and the roster is sure to turn over. With little room under the salary cap, trades could be coming.

Fletcher declined to describe the type of coach he’ll seek in a replacement or paint a timetable for the process.

Todd is a good coach. He battled hard,” Fletcher said. “The team had streaks where we were a very good hockey team, and unfortunately we came up short. He was disappointed by that. It wasn’t from lack of effort.”