Since the Nashville Predators joined the NHL in 1998, Paul Fenton had been part of their front office, first as a director of player personnel and then as assistant general manager. He became one of the most respected executives in the league. Through the years, he interviewed with a number of teams for general manager vacancies while taking his name out of consideration for dozens more.

The right fit never arrived until an old friend came calling.

On Monday, Fenton, 58, was named the general manager of the Minnesota Wild, who are owned by Craig Leipold, the Predators' founding owner. Fenton replaces Chuck Fletcher, whose contract wasn't renewed after close to nine years as general manager.

"It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Paul Fenton as the general manager of the Minnesota Wild," Leipold said in a statement. "Paul is uniquely suited for this job, having played 10 years of professional hockey and holding 25 years of management experience in the NHL. His gift of evaluating talent is obvious in Nashville's roster and recent success. My relationship with Paul goes back to my early days in Nashville, and I know that Wild hockey fans are going to love Paul's infectious passion for the game and unsurpassed work ethic. He's the right person to deliver a Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey."

While seriously considering about a dozen candidates, Leipold interviewed only two of them twice: Fenton and New Jersey Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald, who played for the Predators while Leipold owned them.

Fenton ended up the choice, and he signed a multiyear contract to run all of Minnesota's hockey operations.

As assistant general manager, Fenton oversaw amateur player development, managed the team's professional and amateur scouting staff, and advised GM David Poile on player personnel decisions. He oversaw drafts that produced a slew of big name NHL players, such as Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne, Alex Radulov, Roman Josi and Seth Jones.

The Wild's lack of draft success, with just three players since 2011 who have more than 20 points in their NHL careers, was one of the factors in Fletcher's departure, as the team's lack of quality young players to augment a veteran core became a concern.

From a postseason qualification perspective, the Wild have been one of the NHL's most successful teams in recent years, making the playoffs in six consecutive seasons. But three straight first-round exits under Fletcher and head coach Bruce Boudreau meant it was time for a change at the top. Boudreau remains head coach, having signed a four-year contract in May 2016.

"In our new practice facility, we have a motto. It's the first thing you see when you walk in the door: 'Good is not good enough.' I went through the practice facility about two weeks ago, and I felt that was a signal for me," Leipold said when announcing Fletcher's departure.