While the hockey operations part of the Wild is struggling these days, other parts of organization still have their act together. My kids have been members of the Wild Kids Club for a few years and we’ve found it well worth the cost. Two really nice recent things: the life-sized poster of Boogaard and Butch and a cool birthday card. Bravo!Originally published by DK on March 3, 2009 at 12:55 am
The Wild gave up a loser point and then the extra point to a Kings team they should have slapped all over the place. The first period was so boring, I might have left if my daughter wasn’t with me. I probably should have, as I got a nice little $25 present on my car from the St. Paul Police Department that was placed there around 9pm. More on that in a minute…
The second period at least had some scoring, including the beautiful short-handed goal by Miettinen off the pass from Koivu. I’m pretty sure the Kings goal was scored by Johnsson, which ended the Wild’s long penalty kill streak. No goals in the third, although the Wild had a few chances. I am so sick of single digit shot totals in a period – what is up with that? Both teams seemed tired in the OT and just seemed to stop skating. I’m starting to hate the shoot-out even more now (and not because the Wild lost the last two I’ve witnessed). It’s a skills test, yes, but lately hasn’t really showcased a lot of skill. And please, Coach, keep Burns on the bench during shoot-outs for the rest of the year.
Now on to the real thing that made me mad tonight. I drive a MINI Cooper that used to fit just about anywhere in downtown St. Paul. Then the city put up signs that said no parking from here to corner. I’m fine with that. At the corner of Smith and Chestnut where I parked at tonight, though, there was no sign. Plenty of room for a MINI to fit. The curb was covered with snow, so there weren’t any markings I could see.
At 21:06, an Officer Lee decided that I was violating statute 169.34.1.a.6 – “Prohibitions – stopping, parking within 20 feet of crosswalk.” $25 fee – just enough to really not make it worth my time to dispute. So word of warning Wild fans – don’t park within 20 feet of a crosswalk, even if there are no signs or visible markings. Grumble, grumble.
Wild are off now on their six game road trip, which starts Friday in Calgary – 8pm start on FS North (no HD).Originally published by DK on February 25, 2009 at 12:28 am
OK, so now you know just how far behind on things I am. Here is a scan of the holiday card I received from the Wild for being on the warming house season ticket waiting list.
Happy (belated) holidays!Originally published by DK on February 19, 2009 at 1:00 am
Thanks to my “real job” nightmare, I haven’t had much time to focus on this site or on hockey in general. It’s hard to miss the general state of despair of the Wild online community, though. Russo thinks the Wild are toast, Hockey Wilderness is totally pissed and threats of season ticket holder revolts are flying left and right.
Yes, the Ottawa game was a massive choke. Yes, the Wild are uber-inconsistent this season. Yes, the Wild can’t string three wins in a row to save their lives. Yes, the upcoming stretch of games against top-ranked teams will be challenging. And, yes, 14 out of 17 games on the road is a bitch.
But you know what? I’m not ready to stop watching or call for Risebrough’s head on a platter just yet. Our beloved GM’s statement that “there are only four or five good teams in the league and the rest of us are all the same” is pretty much dead on. The Wild could very well stink it up for the rest of the season, but they also have a very good chance at any of the lower half of the playoff seeds (assuming San Jose, Detroit, Calgary and Chicago are locks for #1-4).
There is plenty of time at the end of the season to call for blood, but right now I’m excited to see what this crop of players can do. Hell, I’ll even give Dougie the benefit of the doubt at the trade deadline. History has shown this time of year isn’t exactly a showcase of his negotiating skills, but Mr. Leipold won’t let mistakes go on forever, right? Maybe he can redeem himself with the Gabby and Backstrom situations after all…
It cracks me up when I read posts from places like Detroit that can always find something to complain about. As if 82 points isn’t good enough, eh?
This clever ruse about consecutive sell-outs needs to end, though. I’m 99.9% sure all of those seats aren’t sold every game. Any insider informants out there that care to spill the beans? Leave us a comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.Originally published by DK on February 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm
Thanks to a last minute invite, I got to head down to the X to watch the Wild play a rare game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. We met some nice Leafs fans last week in Vegas, and as they bluntly told us, “our team sucks.”
This was the type of game the Wild is suppose to win (and usually don’t). I still hold the theory that if the Wild get in to the playoffs as the number 8 seed, they will win the cup. They can beat the best teams in the west and have dominated almost every eastern team they have played this year.
The Maple Leafs are struggling right now, but I don’t imagine that will last too long. Check back in a year or two and see what Mr. Burke can accomplish in the fish bowl that is Canadian professional hockey.
Thankfully, the Wild took advantage of poor Justin Pogge. The minor league goaltender was up for only his second NHL start and knew he was going to be sent back down tomorrow. Stats in this game were misleading: Toronto had more shots on goal (28-21) and dominated face-offs (60/40), but poor Justin let in six goals and was serenaded with the sieve chant by the team of 18,000.
A few other notes:
- Fans received boxes of Hot Tamales on the way out that had a donation request for the Salvation Army’s HeatShare program. Text “Army” to 90999 to donate $5 to the program.
- There were a ton of empty seats (and lots of ads on Craigslist today with very low prices). I’m beginning to think that the Wild are buying seats to keep the sell-out streak alive (just like other teams are doing to earn their league revenue sharing money).
- Boogaard just couldn’t get Brad May to dance tonight, despite multiple invitations. Probably a smart move, Brad, but wow do you look bad when you run away.
- Clutterbuck is starting to become our own little mini-Ovechkin: skates all over with passion, hits everything in sight and now is displaying a nice scoring touch. Nine hits tonight.
- Johnsson was a +4. When was the last time we had anyone be a +4 in a game? Nice job, Kimmy! Can you teach some of those skills to Skoula before you get traded?
- The Bethel women’s hockey team was selling game programs tonight and several of their players sat next to us after the first period. Nice kids.
- New singer tonight for both of the national anthems – I believe her name was Lauren Redpath. This blog says she auditioned to be the singer in 2007, but I’m not 100% sure this is the same person. Her last name was Redpath, but she looked different to me.
- Congrats to Andrew “Iron Man” Brunette today on his 500th consecutive game. After running into him at The Nook a few years ago and seeing him crash knees first into the boards four games ago, I would have never guessed he’d make it to this milestone intact. Too bad the Wild didn’t make a bigger deal out of it tonight.
The Wild’s next game is at Edmonton on Friday night (8PM on FS North, no HD), followed by another away game the next night in Vancouver (9PM on FS North, also no HD). That will be followed by a four game home stretch against the Ducks, Preds, Oilers and Avs. We’ll be there for two of those four, so stay tuned for more full Hockey in Minnesota blog entries.
I’d also like to thank all of the new people following us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/hockeymn). I really enjoy getting other people’s quick hockey updates via Twitter and hope you like our little contributions to the online Minnesota hockey community too.Originally published by DK on January 28, 2009 at 2:32 am
Attending tonight’s Wild-Red Wings game at the X was sort of a last minute decision for me. My aunt got fed up with the team after the Chicago game and wanted to boycott, so I filled in for her in section 216.
The first period was a return to the bad trends of December: Detroit scored the first goal and the Wild got shut out. Shots stayed closer than I expected, though (11-8 Wings), and it was refreshing to have zero penalties on either team. I didn’t see Samuelsson’s goal very well, as it was at the other end, but I did see my buddy Skoula standing over Josh after it went in.
It was still 1-0 Detroit at the end of two, but the Wild ended the period with a 5-on-3 that carried over to the third. Somehow they also managed to out shoot the Wings in the second 16-8, although it really didn’t seem like it to me.
The third period started off with a bang, with new assistant captain Owen Nolan deflecting a Brent Burns blast from the blue line, quickly followed by a quick wrist shot by Antti Miettinen 16 seconds later. It was the aggressive play of Cal Clutterbuck that created the second goal, giving Clutter-butter his first assist of the year. Slim night for Cal on hits, though – only 3.
I have yet to see the disputed Franzen goal on replay. That goal was also at the other end of the arena from us, so I couldn’t really see anything. The ref that was standing right there with the perfect angle immediately waved it off and play was about to begin when Toronto decided to study the issue further. I’ll withhold further opinion until I see what the war room saw. Falness said on the post-game that he thought it was the right call…
I do have to say that the appeal of the shoot-out has faded for me. I now agree with those that say it’s a tricked up skills exhibition that awards an extra point instead of “real” hockey. One part of me wants a return of ties with no extra point, while another part of me wants to have them play until someone wins, like in the playoffs. Four-on-four, three-on-three, I don’t care – make them work for the extra point for real. They are professional athletes that get paid a lot of money – let’s see the show.
Not much else to report from the arena experience tonight. AT&T was handing out those packs pictured above, although I’m still not sure what’s in there. The Wild also had tables set up to hand out the mugs that didn’t arrive in time from one of the December games. I’m guessing they will have a bunch of those left over, as you needed a voucher and I’m sure a lot of those got lost.
The Wild travel to Denver to play the Avs tomorrow at Pepsi Center (7PM, FS North HD). I’ll be curious to see who starts and how well they bounce back from this game. Jacques said they would get pillows for the guys with big ice time (Burns – 33:33, Johnsson – 30:18, Skoula – 27:55). At least Colorado is dealing with some of the same issues we have right now (key injuries, on the outside, looking in, etc.).Originally published by DK on January 4, 2009 at 12:43 am
This game was at least fun to watch:
- Gabby was sluggish and noticeably holding back his effort, but still was a big factor.
- The reaction from the crowd when he hit the ice was mixed from where we sat – boos mixed in with cheers.
- I’ve always felt Boogaard is more of a liability than an asset, but tonight he was awesome. A great hit and a great punch.
- It’s really fun taking people to games that have never been to the X before.
- The Wild seemed to be in control most of the time, but still have trouble winning battles along the boards and showing any break-out speed. Is there a need for better conditioning?
- Another current weakness: holding the zone at the blue line.
- The game winning goal by Bertuzzi was amazing, despite causing us to lose the extra point.
- The Wild emailed warming house members a coupon for 25% off at the Hockey Lodge, so I bought a new soft helmet hat that will cover my ears when I need to shovel again later this week.
Just checked the calendar and I don’t have tickets to another game under March. So sad.Originally published by DK on December 18, 2008 at 12:57 am
With a 1-5 start to December (and the start of the Koivu captain curse), the Wild have plummeted down the Western Conference standings. While it’s too early to abandon all hope, it would be nice to see a little more fight from the guys. Sunday’s game against the Ducks could get ugly if we don’t see some urgency to return to the win column. Like Miettinen said after the 3-1 loss to the Kings, there is more wrong right now than just the lack of scoring.
Hockey in Minnesota will be live tweeting the Ducks game tomorrow (@hockeymn) and will be at the next home game versus Calgary on Wednesday.
Hopefully the Wild bring us some holiday cheer sooner rather than later…Originally published by DK on December 14, 2008 at 1:02 am
If he gets more ice time with Koivu (and the refs don’t screw him over), it won’t be long…Originally published by DK on December 6, 2008 at 1:16 pm
Here’s to better days ahead for Nik (and a new contract)…Originally published by DK on December 2, 2008 at 11:44 am
The Wild lost last night and I’m feeling OK about it. I didn’t realize I actually had tickets to the game until the day before, so it was nice just to be there.
Despite the loss of two points to a hated rival, I enjoyed watching the game. In some ways, a 4-3 loss is more entertaining than a 1-0 win. The bounces just didn’t go the Wild’s way last night – C’est la vie.
A couple of notes from our experience:
- The first free mug was handed out after the game, featuring Mikko Koivu, Moose Goheen, Mike Modano and Doc Romnes (see above).
- It’s fun reading Twitter feeds on my phone during game breaks, especially @hockeywildernes and @QuickFacts.
- I set up a Twitter account for Hockey in Minnesota (@hockeymn), but don’t like doing in-game tweets – too busy watching the game.
- Somebody really needed to level Avery when he was in Backstrom’s face.
- The scoring change from Skoula to Bruno was the talk of our section – “all is now right with the world again.”
- I took a bunch of photos during pre-game warm-ups from the side of the rink (instead of behind the goal) and got some unique shots.
- At the risk of sounding like an elitist, the Team of 18,000 needs less homers and more people with hockey knowledge.
- Speaking of 18,000, they announced a “standing-room only” crowd of 18,568 last night, but apparently my old single seat season ticket hasn’t been sold and is continually empty every game (even for an in-demand ticket like Dallas).
Next game for me: December 17 versus the Flames.Originally published by DK on November 27, 2008 at 12:17 pm
Mikko Koivu during pre-game warm-ups before the 4-3 home loss to Dallas, 11-26-2008.Originally published by DK on November 27, 2008 at 12:58 am
The economy has me in the blues lately – I wonder how long before the NHL in Minnesota is impacted. I don’t have my season ticket this year (which is one of the reasons for the lack of posts here) and other NHL markets are seriously tanking, but hopefully it won’t spread too much before things improve.
On a happier note, both the Wild and the Gophers are playing good, entertaining hockey. Missed last night’s rare national game in HD, but it sounded good on the radio.
I still plan to add a new feature here soon, but to be honest, there are so many good hockey writers and bloggers out there now that I feel like I should only write when I have something unique to say and not just re-hash what is already out there.
Since new media revenue is starting to evaporate along with everything else, at least I don’t have any sponsors I need to worry about… 😉Originally published by DK on November 19, 2008 at 1:13 pm
Finally got to watch my first regular season game in person this year. I didn’t buy the single season ticket next to my relatives seats this year, so unless Bill Robertson comes through for me (or any of the channel 45 connections), I’ll only get to about five games at the X this season.
My bullet points from tonight’s outing:
- The Wild were extremely fortunate to be where they were after two periods.
- I don’t buy the consecutive sell-out streak any more and wish they would just announce the true attendance.
- There are now two wireless networks in the building and both are password protected (MSE_Public and MSE_Media). Really hate that – AT&T is your wireless sponsor, right? Make them pay extra so we can have free wireless in the stands…
- Speaking of sponsors, the ads are getting to be a little much, in my opinion. I guess I should just get up and walk around more between periods and it wouldn’t seem so bad. I think the Best Buy ads for “all your HD hockey needs” pushed me over the edge, seeing as how there are what, five HD games on this year? And this was one of them…
- Programs are still $3 this year, with proceeds still going to youth hockey.
- They played the cool Andrew Brunette video with him and the equipment trainer, then said they were auctioning off the prop “17,615” jersey. Nicely done.
- Some photographer dude came by our section before the third period taking pictures of people and giving them cards to look up the shots and order prints (just like at amusement parks!). http://www.wild.com/truefans
- “Mittens” is the worst hockey nickname ever and I refuse to use it.
- Why does the URL for Russo’s Rants keep changing? Same for the wild.com in-game commentary…
I have a few enhancements planned for this site that I hope to have online very soon – stay tuned!Originally published by DK on October 27, 2008 at 11:34 pm
New autograph policy: A total of 150 autograph tickets will be distributed for Andrew Brunette and another 150 for Marian Gaborik. Those tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 2 p.m.
Now you get to wait in line twice in one day…Originally published by DK on October 17, 2008 at 1:00 am
Screw the Slovak Mafia – Mikko to Antti all season, baby! Maybe we should have half the team be sick every night, eh? Or ask to play Eastern teams all year…Originally published by DK on October 16, 2008 at 9:06 pm
It just seems so right to have Bruno back in a Wild jersey, no?
Fun season opener tonight. Didn’t get to see it in person, but watched the beginning at Joe Senser’s in Eagan before heading home to see the end.
By the way, how long before all games are in HD? There should be a law…Originally published by DK on October 12, 2008 at 12:11 am
Nice to finally be back! After a laptop issue that took a long time to resolve, too much stuff going on at work and my general disdain for pre-season professional sports, it’s been hard for me to get excited about hockey this year. That changed after back-to-back games this week at the X, though.
I took one kid each night and got more and more excited as each period passed. Thoughts from the past two days:
- Price increases all around it seems: tickets and most concessions – waiting to see if regular season game programs go to $4 too
- Buffalo Wild Wings appears to be MIA on the first floor (chicken strips with sauces now)
- Bergeron really, really needs to stop fighting (or attend Boogie’s fight camp)
- As if we needed a new reason to hate Skoula – watch that stick, buddy!
- Will Sheppard join Koivu this year as a face-off master? Initial signs are good…
- Took a bunch of pre-game pictures that I’ll get uploaded later this week
One final thought tonight. A lot of season ticket holders for pro hockey and football hate the pre-season because they are not “real” games, yet cost full-price. I think the NFL is considering a shortened pre-season, but I like what baseball does: cheap games in unique locations that people actually plan trips around. How about NHL scrimmages at college rinks for $5 or $10 a head? The teams make too much money under the current setup to change, but wouldn’t it be cool to have the local rink rats get to see their heroes in their own backyard?Originally published by DK on October 2, 2008 at 12:19 am
Tonight we attended the first annual Wild season ticket holder BBQ on Raspberry Island in downtown St. Paul. Two trolleys ferried people from the River Centre parking ramp on Kellogg down to the entrance where we found:
- Coupons for a free brat or burger, chips, drink and Kemps IttiBitz ice cream
- A tent selling discounted Wild merchandise
- New owner Craig Leopold flipping burgers
- Tables with swag from channel 45 and the Pioneer Press
- Two caricature artists doing free drawings
- Lots of tables and chairs to sit and eat
- A stage for a live Hockey Unplugged with Kevin Falness, Dan Terhaar, Mike Greenlay and Craig Leopold
- A screen set up for the movie Miracle
I chatted briefly with Mike Greenlay (who plays in the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am) and asked him about the new owner. He said he worked with him before in Nashville and he thinks that Bob Naegele found a great successor in Mr. Leopold.
It was fun listening to Hockey Unplugged again, although a few of the questions asked weren’t the greatest (glad I don’t have to come up with answers for those).
The only disappointment of the night was the one caricature artist who said he had to quit at 8PM – right as my daughter got to the front of the line after waiting an hour. By itself that wouldn’t be so awful, but the guy did one more drawing after we left for a couple who offered him $10 to do a “free” drawing. Jerk.Originally published by DK on August 20, 2008 at 11:40 pm
I was looking at my personal blog today and remembered I met Mark Parrish at the 2006 Minnesota State Fair (post here).
He was a nice guy to talk to and I remember he asked me what “DK” stood for and always liked to hear stories about how people got their nicknames.
I understand the cap explanation and the player-coach tension, but I’m sorry to see him go. We still have a need for junk goals from in front of the crease and that was a Parrish specialty. His off year was in large part due to the injuries suffered by getting in there and battling. It’s hard for me to not see how you at least give him a chance with the new teammates–especially with the contract he had.
By the way, where do I sign up for one of those deals? Five million to not do anything is pretty sweet…
Good luck Grumpy, wherever you end up.Originally published by DK on August 6, 2008 at 2:29 pm
As reported by hockey writer extraordinaire Mike Russo, the Wild are almost at the salary cap after signing Pierre-Marc Bouchard last week to a long-term, $20.4 million deal.
He also posted an updated depth chart to his blog and I have to say, I’m pretty excited about the upcoming season:
LW – Brunette, Parrish, Veilleux, Boogaard
C – Koivu, Sheppard, Belanger, Pouliot
RW – Gaborik, Bouchard, Nolan, Miettinen, Weller
D – Burns, Johnsson, Schultz, Zidlicky, Skoula, Bergeron, Reitz, Foster
G – Backstrom, Harding
Of course there are no guarantees, but there seem to be plenty of worse teams in the NHL (at least on paper). Only 58 days to the pre-season opener…
Go Wild!Originally published by DK on July 28, 2008 at 11:22 pm
The Wild released next season’s schedule yesterday (PDF). Some thoughts:
- Sixteen back-to-backs (can’t remember how many there were last year)
- Longest road series: six games, 2/27 – 3/8, CGY/EDM/VAN/SJ/LA/ANA
- Longest home series: five games, 11/20 – 11/28, VAN/STL/WSH/DAL/TB
- Both Wings home games are on Saturday nights (1/3 & 2/21)
- Crosby @ PIT on 11/18 and Ovechkin here on 11/24
- Hopefully a healthy Manny in nets for the home opener vs. BOS (10/11)
Can’t wait!Originally published by DK on July 18, 2008 at 9:14 am
We attended the 2008 edition of the Minnesota Wild season ticket holder select-a-seat event at the Xcel Energy Center earlier this week.
The good news for the new owner: very few open seats this year. The upper ends were sold out (as usual) and the upper sides had only scattered single seats available. The club level had surprisingly few open seats (so much for the recession) and the only reasonable supply of seats were lower level ends and corners on the side the Wild shoot at once.
Some other notes:
- The prospects were on the ice when we first arrived and were supposed to come up and sign autographs, but they still weren’t there by the time we left.
- Suite #56 was open for inspection, which was fun to see, but I was disappointed to see that they removed the 23-inch Cinema displays, though.
- While sitting in some seats on the club level, a very nervous gentleman purchased four of them ($12,300 – ouch).
- Free ice cream and Zamboni pictures were nice, as were the 30-percent-off coupons to the Hockey Lodge.
- My relatives kept their same seats, so I’ll wait and see if the Wild offer them the open single next to them for half price again.
- The “discount” at the River Centre parking ramp wasn’t so special – $7 instead of $10. How about free for the people spending thousands of dollars?
More on the prospects soon…Originally published by DK on July 12, 2008 at 5:19 pm
Wow, take a week off to watch the best female golfers in the world and the Wild universe goes nuts…
Some thoughts on those who have left:
- Rolston – sad to see him go, but he occasionally drove me nuts. No way the Wild could have matched the New Jersey offer (which I thought was very generous).
- Fedoruk – will miss his grinder line determination (and dance skills).
- Voros – Fedoruk lite, but his production dropped off and wasn’t worth $1 million/year.
And some thoughts on the additions:
- Andrew Brunette (LW) – glad to have him back. Maybe he can help Parrish get out of his slump.
- Owen Nolan (LW) – didn’t see this one coming. Anything that makes Calgary weaker is good in my book. Sort of a Walz replacement in some ways.
- Antti Miettinen (RW) – should be good for Koivu to have another Finn in the room. Stats look pretty good.
- Craig Weller (RW) – UMD connection, but not much NHL experience. Supposed to be a Voros replacement. Never thought $600K would be considered a “value” player…
- Marek Zidlicky (D) – Excited about this one. New owner must know him, we get a player whose name starts with “Z,” another Czech will maybe encourage Skoula to play better (ha!). Sort of pricey, but not Johnsson pricey.
And finally, issues we still need to deal with:
- Butch and Veilleux – I’d like to see both back, unless one of them helps us with:
- Another Center – as discussed everywhere, we are still lacking here.
All that and Select-A-Seat this week too…Originally published by DK on July 6, 2008 at 11:44 pm
Watched a bit of the Versus coverage of the first round. Here is the wild.com summary:
ROUND 1 – Tyler Cuma
The skinny: The Wild entered the draft at No. 24 overall, but moved up one spot to No. 23 in the first round to select the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Bowmanville, Ontario native.
ROUND 2- Marco Scandella
The skinny: Ranked No. 82 among North American skaters, Minnesota selected the Val d’Or defenseman with its No. 55 overall pick.
ROUND 4 – Sean Lorenz
The skinny: After skipping a round thanks to its acquisition of Marc-Andre Bereron from Anaheim, the Wild selected defenseman Sean Lorenz out of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program with its fourth round pick.
ROUND 5 – Eero Elo
The skinny: Tommy Thompson saw Elo in Finland and, though the left winger was unranked by Central Scouting, Minnesota took him with the No. 145 overall selection.
I’m hoping Cuma becomes another Burns and the other picks obviously focused on building up the future blue line. The Versus commentators were high on Cuma and thought he should have been picked earlier, so that’s a good sign.
Sad to see Jokinen go to Phoenix and I’m discouraged by the Rolston negotiations. The Wild still have a mountain of issues to deal with this summer – next date to watch being the July 1st UFA deadline. I just hope we have a clearer picture before Select-A-Seat and the associated personal financial decision that entails…Originally published by DK on June 22, 2008 at 1:48 pm
Branko Radivojevic heads to Russia and the Wild sign Marc-Andre Bergeron on D. Got a little behind on posting here after being on the road for a week, but I wanted to throw these two changes up. Also looks like Rolston and Gabby might be close to re-signing too (I love how Shooter is getting mileage out of Rolston’s house on StoneRidge being up for sale).
A little sad to see Radio leave, although there are tons of role players that can step in. He really wasn’t much to write home about, but did step it up a little at the end of the season and always seemed to show a lot of effort (even if he couldn’t hit open nets).
As for Bergeron, I’m a little concerned about Russo’s comments that he’s error-prone and has low self-esteem. He was on the golf course when he was traded, though, so he’s got that going for him. The Wild don’t need a Skoula-lite, but if he turns into a Foster-lite instead, that’s not a bad thing.
Trade week coming up (with Select-A-Seat coming soon too), so keep your eyes and ears open for Wild news…Originally published by DK on June 13, 2008 at 2:28 pm
The Minnesota Wild announced yesterday that they have signed former Houston Aeros defenseman Maxim Noreau (max-EEM nohr-OH) to a multi-year deal. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound, twenty-year-old native of Montreal played 50 games for Houston last year and had 16 points (8 goals and 8 assists).
The story was posted on the Wild site, the Aeros site and the NHL news feed, but so far there has been no local commentary by Russo at the Strib or at the Pioneer Press (both used short AP stories).
I don’t really remember hearing much about him last year from the Aeros community, so I’m curious to see if he will actually make the big team. As usual for the Wild, terms were not disclosed.Originally published by DK on May 23, 2008 at 8:56 am
The big three Wild players participating in the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Canada did us proud. Brent Burns (Canada), Mikko Koivu (Finland) and Niklas Backstrom (Finland) all had stellar tournaments.
Burnsie was named Best Defenseman of the tournament, scoring 3 goals with 6 assists and a tournament best +14. His nine points tied him for third highest defenseman (along with my favorite LA King – Vote for Lubo!).
Looking at the Finns, Mikko Koivu got to play on a line with his big brother Saku and, like Burns, had 9 points (4 goals and 5 assists). His face-off win percentage was almost 60%, about 3% lower than his brother.
Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom earned a shut-out in the bronze medal game against Sweden and had a 92.2% save percentage and a 2.11 goals against average for the tournament. He also played by far the most minutes of any goalie in the championship – 483:22.
Former Wild player Mattias Weinhandl also had a great tournament. The wiener was a +9 for Sweden, with 13 points (5 goals and 8 assists). Looks like he’s headed for Russia next year too.
Most importantly, no one seems to have been hurt. The future looks good for the Wild…Originally published by DK on May 20, 2008 at 8:00 am
Mr. Simon, we hardly knew you.
Chris Simon is headed to Russia to play for Vityaz Chekhov.
Not exactly the highlight of Doug Risebrough’s career, the late-in-the-day trade deadline move that brought Simon to the Wild was widely criticized. I gave Simon the benefit of the doubt, as he seemed to honestly be happy to be here.
For better or for worse, we never really got to see if he was reformed or not. That’s a hard thing to prove when you’re sitting in the press box…Originally published by DK on May 19, 2008 at 9:30 pm
Former Wild Players still in the chase:
- Jim Dowd (PHI)
- Pascal Dupuis (PIT)
- Adam Hall (PIT)
- Johan Holmqvist (DAL)
I know he’s with Hossa and Crosby, but you’ve got to feel happy for Dufus, er, Dupuis.
Go Wings!Originally published by DK on May 14, 2008 at 11:26 pm
“When you are younger, it’s a lot easier to make a decision. At the end of the year, I said I wanted to ask questions of Doug [Risebrough]. I wanted to make sure my boss is happy with the work I am doing and with the way I manage the team. This is what we talked about in our meetings. I am reassured of my work and I want to coach again.
“My satisfaction behind the bench is getting the team to play the best it can, individually and as a group. Success will come with that.”
With all of the other open coaching positions, this adds a little certainty to the Wild for next year. It remains to be seen, however, just what it was that Lemaire learned from Risebrough in Tampa that made him decide to stay another year…Originally published by DK on May 10, 2008 at 12:00 pm
The first change to the Wild roster for next year is official: Mike Russo reports the Troll is headed to Switzerland.
I felt bad for him during his Wild tenure, as he seemed to wear out by the end of the 2006-2007 season and spent a lot of the past season in the press box, despite other injuries and weaknesses both on the blue line and up front.
Last year my daughter and I went to see him with Koivu at one of the player appearances and he was just the nicest guy.
Alles Gute, Mr. Nummelin!Originally published by DK on May 8, 2008 at 10:37 pm
The Wild state their organizational values are team, preparation, honesty and passion. The issue this season, however, seemed to be leadership.
Multiple leadership issue were a factor this year:
- The Wes Walz retirement.
- Mid-season change in ownership.
- Lack of trade deadline moves.
- Noticeable frustration from the coaching staff.
Instead of lingering on this season (which the marketing department likes to do), let’s look at what the future holds for the Wild.
Craig Leipold brings hope to the Wild faithful, but his initial comments (“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”) and the restrictions of the salary cap don’t paint a great picture. His open letter to fans also makes one wonder:
And I pledge to do my part to keep making this team even better. Because as great as you make the atmosphere off the ice, it is my duty to make the team on the ice the very best it can be. I believe in the system that Doug Risebrough and his hockey staff have built here, and I support them 100%. My goal is winning; not to tinker with success. I just want to give them the tools they need to carry out their plan as best they can.
We’ll come back to Doug Risebough and his hockey staff in a minute, but Mr. Leipold finishes up his letter with the following:
Now, we’re beginning the Stanley Cup playoffs; one of 16 teams with a shot at a championship. I look forward to seeing you at each and every game. And I make no secret of hoping, one day soon, that I’ll see you at the parade the State of Hockey so richly deserves, and the Stanley Cup finally comes to where it belongs.
Part of leadership involves setting goals and expectations and I’m glad to see someone at the Wild mention the Cup. As a season ticket holder, I’m looking for two things: entertainment and a championship. If the team wasn’t fun to watch, they wouldn’t sell out every game.
The previous ownership never seemed to focus on winning the Cup (too Minnesota Nice to say what we want?). Enough talk about good effort, fight to the end, etc. The goal is the Cup!
Wes Walz and Doug Risebrough
I said I wasn’t going to linger on the past season, but I can’t start to talk about Doug Risebrough without talking about Wes Walz.
We’ll never know if there was more to the story or not, but retiring in the middle of the season was not a move a good leader makes. And Walz was apparently the leader on the team, as no one else seemed to step up to take on that role as the season continued. I appreciate what Walz meant to the team over the years, but his decision mid-season really hurt the team.
As for Risebrough, I’m sure there is plenty we don’t know about the trade deadline and what went on behind the scenes. But the fact of the matter is that with Walz leaving, the Wild were short at center and there was plenty of time to look for a replacement before the trade deadline. The market for big-name centers wasn’t huge, but other teams were able to make deals that didn’t mortgage their future. Then again, with the change in ownership hanging over the trade deadline, maybe the plan was to stand still for now and wait until Mr. Leipold took over. And there is the possibility that Risebrough was coasting anyway–uncertainty with a new owner, opportunities with other teams, etc.
It seems that Wild hockey operations didn’t have the greatest of years this season. In addition to Walz and the trade deadline, there were several instances when the Wild seemed to mishandle the mundane (filing paperwork with the league to make players eligible, roster move issues with Houston bringing players up and down, customs issues when Sheppard signed, etc.). I don’t know enough about what Tom Lynn (Assistant General Manager/Hockey Operations) and Tom Thompson (Assistant General Manager/Player Personnel) do, but you have to wonder if the new owner truly believes the hockey operations employees are the best in the league.
Jacques Lemaire appears ready to walk away. His team seemed to stopped listening to him half-way through the season and the disdain between him and Gaborik was not a big secret. Lemaire’s post-game comments after each game are one of my favorite things to listen to and we all know his history of achievement in the NHL. His style of hockey doesn’t appeal to all players (and fans), but I disagree with anyone who says that Wild games are boring to watch because of the coach.
That said, it may be time for a change. If the new owner ends up having to shake things up everywhere else, why not at least consider a new coach? Rumors earlier in the year pointed to the hiring of Kevin Constantine in Houston as the heir-apparent to Lemaire and a season ticket holder in San Jose that I know had nothing but praise for him when he coached there. Aside from him being a Minnesotan and having lots of NHL experience, I don’t know enough about him to lean one way or another.
Those calling for Mike Ramsey have some valid points, but he seems like a wild card to me. The hockey background is great: Gopher, 1980 Miracle on Ice player, Sabres defenseman and Wild assistant since the beginning. No head coaching experience and perhaps too close to status quo for the new owner, though.
All that said, having Lemaire back with a new supporting cast would not be a bad thing either.
As reported all over, the Wild have a lot of roster decisions to make this summer. According to NHL Numbers, the Wild have ten unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents to deal with. Add to that the Gaborik situation and this team will look very different next fall.
Let’s start with who we have locked up longer term: Schultz for six more years, Burns for four, Koivu and Parrish for three and Belanger, Sheppard, Boogaard and Johnsson for two. The first three are awesome. Belanger flamed out early this year and I really hope that Parrish just had the wrong partners this season.
Sheppard is a work in progress that hopefully will benefit from the forced big-time experience. The marketing department (and a lot of fans) love Boogaard, but his days may be numbered by health issues and a changing game. Johnsson is usually solid when he doesn’t have to play 30 minutes a game for weeks on end (but probably not $5 million solid).
As for the free agents, let’s look at the RFA’s first. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is small and likes to go for the fancy pants play more than I like, but if the price is right, I’ll take his 50 assists again next year. Nice guy too–drove through a blizzard two years ago to sign autographs for the fans.
Stephane Veilleux – ginger boy is aggressive, gritty and plays with determination and emotion. Need his fire and the price is right. Should sign an endorsement deal with the Gophers.
Aaron Voros – same type of character as Veilleux without the red hair. Needs to calm down and not take stupid penalties. Bring him back.
Kurtis Foster – supposedly already re-signed, but who knows if Risebrough will be around to honor his verbal commitment. Wild will be short on the blue line and need a healthy Foster back on the point, especially during the power play. We used to joke that Foster was Australian for Skoula, but that joke isn’t funny any more.
On the UFA side of things, the two big ones are of course Rolston and Demitra. My feelings on these two have reversed over the course of the year. I bought one of the first Demitra jerseys in town, but feel a bit let down. There is still nothing like watching Demitra feed Gabby on a breakaway, but it didn’t happen enough for how much that duo would cost next year. Of course if Demo goes, you need to deal with Gaborik, but I’ll leave that conversation for another day.
As for Rolston, I thought he was sort of a one-shot wonder who didn’t play at 100% all the time. My opinion has changed, as he seemed to step into a leader role and really played his butt off at the end of the year (he’s still a one-shot wonder, but it’s a damn good shot). Mixed reports in the news about his intentions, but I’d try to get him back if the money isn’t insane.
This post is getting way longer than I intended, so here’s a summary of the rest:
Keepers: Radivojevic, Fedoruk
Drop: Foy, Simon, Kelly, Carney, Nummelin, Hill
I’ll leave goaltending and a review of “in the system” players for another day as well.
The 2008-09 NHL season will be a fun one no matter what happens, as we get to play every team (hurray!) and the All-Star Game will be in Montreal to celebrate the Canadiens’ 100th Anniversary. Also looking forward to June 20-21 in Ottawa for the 46th NHL Entry Draft. And just a reminder about the draft from Wikipedia:
The Minnesota Wild’s sixth round pick will go to the New York Islanders due to a trade on February 26, 2008 that sent Chris Simon to Minnesota in exchange for this pick. The Minnesota Wild’s seventh round pick will go to the New Jersey Devils due to a trade on February 27, 2007 that sent Aaron Voros to Minnesota in exchange for this pick.
Will Mr. Risebrough be in Ottawa spending Mr. Leipold’s money or someone else’s?Originally published by DK on April 20, 2008 at 9:10 pm
And so the fight ends…
Missed the first and second period attending the Current’s excellence Fakebook series at the Fitzgerald, but I’ll probably go back and watch the DVR recording later.
Not much to say about the third period–didn’t see the killer desire needed to get that last goal and the Avs played great shut-down defense. Disappointing end to the season, but I get to shave the scratchy playoff beard and save some serious money on additional playoff tickets.
Congratulations to the Colorado Avalanche–good luck against the Red Wings (most likely).
Hockey in Minnesota will go into off-season mode shortly, but I’ll have a few more posts about the Wild season and maybe track a few former Wild players still in the Stanley Cup playoffs (hello Dufus!). My golf site, Golfing in Minnesota, will return from off-season mode this week, so please subscribe to that RSS feed if you are a Minnesota hockey and golf fan.Originally published by DK on April 20, 2008 at 12:29 am
“Save by Theodore”
Wow, I hate those three words. What an outstanding game by Jose, though. Other thoughts from this game:
- Thoroughly enjoyed the first and second period, despite the 1-1 tie at the end of two.
- Finally got a new video intro before the game, which even had the Ginger Boy and his chipmunk taunt.
- EDGE internet access at the X is definitely broken – heard others talking about it too.
- If we can’t get free wireless or internet access, how about more live stats on the various scoreboards? No shot totals, ice time or anything during the intermissions (which we did get during the regular season).
- No cute marketing events tonight at all – they actually played part of the Caps-Flyers OT live during the second intermission. LOVED that.
- The Wild came out very strong at the start and basically dominated all aspects of this game, except for blocked shots (15 to 4) and the all-important final score.
- Mr. Reitz looked pretty decent in his season premiere 5:47 of ice time in the big show.
- Both Koivu and Gaborik looked off tonight. I remember a few mis-cues from Burns too.
- Thank goodness there were only 3 penalties per team tonight.
- Such a shame that Benny was quick on the draw when Demo let that slapper fly. Totally different game if that counted.
Next game: 9pm Saturday in Colorado on FSN North (HD). Bring it back home for one more…Originally published by DK on April 18, 2008 at 12:15 am
Just finished watching the DVR recording of game four. Jacques blamed the D for the loss and while the 7 give-aways were critical, the Avs had 11 and I thought two of the first three goals should have been stopped by Backstrom. A few other thoughts:
- Didn’t like the officiating, but not because it was unbalanced. Just hate to see playoff games called so close.
- “Attendance 18,007 at Pepsi Center” – they did manage to sell out.
- Bad face-off night for Koivu – only 38% (60/40 overall in favor of the Avs).
- The bright side of no OT – top minutes were only 23:45 (Skoula).
- Ginger Boy mocking McLeod in the penalty box was classic.
- Jose is really playing well – need to keep rattling him and putting people in front of the net.
- Johnsson, the $4.8 million dollar man, was a -3.
- There is a delicate balance between playing gritty and playing stupid.
Up next: game five back at the X tomorrow night. The best revenge is a W…Originally published by DK on April 16, 2008 at 6:12 pm
Way to go Butch!
Watched on Versus in Seattle tonight and I thought I was going to have a heart attack in my hotel room…
Great win for the Wild–just hope they have some gas left in the tank tomorrow (Burns – 32:21, Johnnson – 31:36, Skoula – 30:12). Of course, the old men Avs should be just as tired, but we’ll see tomorrow night.
I’ll be in the air during the game, but the DVR is set to record. Go Wild!Originally published by DK on April 15, 2008 at 12:17 am
What an emotionally draining game! So glad that the team was able to shake off the effects of the emotional roller coaster at the end of the third to get that game winning goal early in the OT and head to Colorado with the series tied 1-1. Other thoughts from section 216:
- The marketing people must be slipping–same exact video montage from game one? What are we paying you people for?
- Never been so happy to see Skoula during warm-ups. He was a -1 tonight, but had 2 hits and covered 26+ minutes.
- What the hell is Jacked and why is the NHL promoting it so prominently on the scores page?
- Speaking of Internet stuff, access at the X needs to improve. The MSE wireless network is still password protected and AT&T’s EDGE network seems to get overloaded during games (and they are a freakin’ Wild sponsor).
- The Wild really seemed off the first two periods–lots of missed passes, players out of position, etc. Better legs at the end compared to game one, though.
- Overall face-off wins almost even, but that was mostly Demitra’s fault, winning only 2 of 8. Good night for Belanger (62%).
- Not Gabby’s best night–whatever Colorado is doing defensively is working.
- Burns had 7 hits, but didn’t seem to play the smartest game–passes to nowhere, a couple of turnovers, etc.
- So glad Koivu’s leg is better. Way to go franchise!
- The crowd leaving the building was extremely pumped up. The chants in the foyer were almost louder than during the game.
Next up: back-to-backs in Denver on Monday and Tuesday (channel 45 on Monday and FSN North HD on Tuesday). I’ll be in Seattle those days, but both games are supposed to be on Versus nationally. Go Wild!Originally published by DK on April 12, 2008 at 12:58 am
Disappointing start to the playoffs. Some thoughts:
- Late starts on weeknights are really bad–way too late for kids.
- I want to shoot the Wild marketing people: 1) same [losing] slogan as last year and 2) same white [surrender] towels again. How about red or green towels with a new slogan?
- Speaking of marketing, what do you do when the product on the ice can’t meet the hype you are trying to generate? Depressing…
- The crowd was really into it at the beginning and at the end. When it was 2-0? Could have heard a pin drop.
- Laperriere’s medicine turned out not to be Boogaard’s fist, but Rolston’s slapper.
- No points for Forsberg.
- Johnsson and Burns got to be the 30 minute men thanks to Schultz.
- Skoula was Good Marty until he got tired at the end. Stats only say 2 hits, but I thought I saw three.
- What was Rolston thinking at the end? Open on a break-away and he puts away the slapshot to pass to Boogey? What?!?
We were only one Burnsie move away from a win, so all is not lost. And way to go Calgary – Flames in 4! Flames in 4!
Heading back to the X on Friday to see what happens next.Originally published by DK on April 10, 2008 at 1:01 am
Average Age of Roster:
- Minnesota Wild = 27.6
- Colorado Avalanche = 28.2
Five Oldest Wild Players:
- Keith Carney – 38 (Feb 3, 1970)
- Sean Hill – 38 (Feb 14, 1970)
- Chris Simon – 36 (Jan 30, 1972)
- Brian Rolston – 35 (Feb 21, 1973)
- Petteri Nummelin – 35 (Nov 25, 1972)
Five Oldest Avs:
- Joe Sakic – 38 (Jul 7, 1969)
- Adam Foote – 36 (Jul 10, 1971)
- Peter Forsberg – 34 (Jul 20, 1973)
- Andrew Brunette – 34 (Aug 24, 1973)
- Ian Laperriere – 34 (Jan 19, 1974)
Wild Players Who Have Won the Cup:
- Sean Hill (1993 – Montreal)
- Brian Rolston (1995 – New Jersey)
- Chris Simon (1996 – Colorado)
- Steve Kelly (2000 – New Jersey)
- Martin Å koula (2001 – Colorado)
Colorado Players Who Have Won the Cup:
- Adam Foote (1996, 2001 – Colorado)
- Peter Forsberg (1996, 2001 – Colorado)
- Milan Hejduk (2001 – Colorado)
- Scott Parker (2001 – Colorado)
- Joe Sakic (1996, 2001 – Colorado)
All stats compiled from nhl.com and Wikipedia – please let me know if I missed anything…
Finally, big props to whoever it was on the Russo blog who came up with the nickname Inglewood Jack for Burnsie. Classic.Originally published by DK on April 9, 2008 at 12:22 am
While it’s a big hit to our blue line, I’m just glad they figured out what it was before he got hit during a game and burst that sucker.
Time for the troll to come in and showcase that speed and stick-handling. Oh, and paging Good Marty…Originally published by DK on April 8, 2008 at 8:36 am
With Chicago beating Nashville last night, that leaves only two options for the Wild’s first round match-up: Colorado or Calgary. According to the newspaper reports, if the Wild beat Colorado in regulation and Calgary beats Vancouver, we’d play Calgary. Any other combination means Colorado in the first round.
Jacques said he won’t sit any of the regulars and is playing to win tomorrow, so hopefully the Canucks will be playing for honor tonight. Although nothing would be sweeter than beating Calgary in the first round (well, OK, maybe beating the Ducks in the first round).
I have my single seat for all of the playoff games, but checked for tickets via the pre-sale for warming house members. There were two lower-level seats together around row 20 in the corner, but the price scared me off (almost $250 including all the fees). I’ll just keep my spot for now and be happy to get in as the quest for the cup begins.
Oh yeah, started the playoff beard too. Hopefully it will be the longest beard I’ve ever had…
UPDATE: Calgary thrashes the Canucks 7-1, so Wild win = Flames, loss = Avs. I think an OT win by the Wild would = Avs too.
UPDATE 2: They finally released the schedule –
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Game 1 â€“ Wed., Apr. 9, Colorado at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (CDT)
Game 2 â€“ Fri, Apr. 11, Colorado at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (CDT)
Game 3 â€“ Monday, Apr. 14, Minnesota at Colorado, 9 p.m. (CDT)
Game 4 â€“ Tuesday, Apr. 15, Minnesota at Colorado, 9 p.m. (CDT)
*Game 5 â€“ Thursday, Apr. 17, Colorado at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (CDT)
*Game 6 â€“ Saturday, Apr. 19, Minnesota at Colorado, (start time TBD)
*Game 7 â€“ Tuesday, Apr. 22, Colorado at Minnesota, (start time TBD)
* – if necessary
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Wild game that I wanted them to win so badly. It would have been just too depressing to have the players all stick around after the game to give away their jerseys after a loss. Glad that didn’t happen…
- What was up with the waved-off goal call? Russo’s story said the official quote was “This is not a reviewable play. The play is considered dead once [Lee] thinks about blowing his whistle.” Thinks about blowing his whistle? Give me a break.
- The scratch-off cards given to fans were a nice idea, as was the team of 18,000 patch.
- Calgary didn’t seem to play their usual physical game – our guys even got to poke at Kipper without getting knocked flat.
- I took my camera with and took more than 900 shots (updates to the photo gallery coming soon).
- Don’t agree with Jacques – I was happy to see Burns fight Phaneuf (see above).
- Pavol beat Mikko in face offs last night, 59% vs. 56%.
- Stats show zero hits for Skoula, but he did actually knock a guy down in front of the net.
Next game: At Colorado on Sunday (KSTP, supposedly in HD)Originally published by DK on April 4, 2008 at 9:25 am
Here’s the poster that was handed out after the Calgary game.Originally published by DK on April 4, 2008 at 12:13 am
Congrats to the Wild for winning their first ever Northwest Division title. More on the game and playoff situation tomorrow…Originally published by DK on April 4, 2008 at 12:06 am
Josh is thinking Arby’s (after he has a Wild burger at Wendy’s, I’m sure).
That was the poster the Wild handed out to fans leaving the X last night after the 3-2 overtime thriller versus Colorado. I caught the game in person after getting back from spring break on the train in the morning.
- We got to see all five goals at our end of the rink.
- Three shots on goal in the second was pathetic.
- Why can’t Skoula be physically more aggressive when he plays? So tentative…
- Koivu face-off wins top 70% tonight (Shep was 80% and Demitra over 50% too).
- Butch’s fight from the last game must have rattled him a little – he seemed to lose his puck-handling touch most of the night.
- Loved the starting line – Boogey with Gabby and Demo.
- It was hard to tell if Voros was playing at the start – under 7 minutes of total ice time.
- Johnsson almost hit 30 minutes with 34 shifts. Bet he misses Foster the most.
Next game: Thursday night versus Calgary at home for fan appreciation night.Originally published by DK on March 31, 2008 at 11:01 am
Just got off the train from my spring break trip and watched the DVR recording of the 4-0 shutout from Friday. Why do I keep missing the best games of the year?
A few thoughts:
- So happy to see the Wild get a big lead and hold it.
- The score could have easily been 7-0 with Gabby’s two break-aways and Kimmy’s post in the third.
- How about that Burnsie kid? I think he got one penalty minute for each of his rapid-fire punches. Classic.
- The Hill check of Cowan into the bench was classic too.
- That hardly qualified as a fight for Butch, but if it gets another Canucks player suspended by the league, I’ll call it a fight.
- I almost felt bad for Luongo – he should have stayed with his wife.
- Another awesome face-off night for Koivu – 65% (starting to sound like a broken record).
- Good Marty likes shutouts – no chance of a minus night (he played even with one hit in 19:18 of ice time).
Up next: the Avs play the Wild at the X later this afternoon in a game where one point gets the Wild into the playoffs (per Russo).Originally published by DK on March 30, 2008 at 1:53 pm
Still out of town, but got to “watch” the play-by-play on my iPhone using the NHL’s cool real-time scoring option.
Not much to add to all of the commentary I read online, just glad they are back in first place for the time being.
Bring on the Sedin sisters!Originally published by DK on March 27, 2008 at 6:20 pm
This week I am on the road for spring break and will have limited posts, as the only Internet access I have is on my phone (I sound like Russo).
One quick note, though. I was riding the train west just south of Edmonton yesterday night and I could just feel the bad vibes coming from Canada when I read Butch and Demitra were out.
The final score didn’t surprise me, but it’s still disappointing…Originally published by DK on March 25, 2008 at 7:32 pm
All times central, the way the State of Hockey likes it…Originally published by DK on March 23, 2008 at 6:10 pm
Is it the cool fire effect that shoots down from the ceiling? How about the fire that seems to fly from Jerome Iginla’s stick? I’d trade just about anyone on the team to get that particular Wild-Killer wearing Iron Range Red.
Thoughts from the game:
- Our goaltenders concern me more than the lack of depth at center. Backs still lets in the softies and Harding isn’t a reliable backup this year.
- I like the physical presence the enforcers bring to the game. We are now tougher, but need to get some help in net (the offensive problems seem to be getting better).
- Congrats to Benny for number 1 and number 2. Too bad he couldn’t pull off the trick too. Same for Kimmy.
- Good face off night for Koivu (61%), but the rest of the team was horrible.
- Marty, Marty, Marty. Not one of his better recent games. Only -1 in a 5 goal game, though.
- He may be a jerk, but what a night for Phaneuf–one goal, two assists, +4 with 31:02 of ice time. Impressive. Any other night and that would get you the first star.
Next up: Wild versus the Oilers in Edmonton, Monday at 8:30pm (local TV – FSN North)Originally published by DK on March 23, 2008 at 12:46 am
Congratulations to the Denver Pioneers for stopping the Gophers improbable streak to take the WCHA Final Five title.
What a game Denver goalie Peter Mannino played–thank goodness he’s a senior.
Anxious to see the NCAA seeds tomorrow. Also noticed the Frozen Four will be at the X in 2011. Wouldn’t it be great if Kangas was still here to play his senior year and win a national championship in St. Paul? Yeah, right…Originally published by DK on March 23, 2008 at 12:10 am
Nice to have TV hockey overload for Friday’s snow day. I watched the surprising UND loss to Denver in the afternoon game, followed by the Gopher’s overtime win versus the regular-season champs, Colorado College. Turning the channel to KSTC, I watched the first part of the Wild game in Vancouver before setting the DVR to record the second and third periods. And it starts all over again today too!
A few notes from Friday:
- The Gophers seem to have endless energy. The Wild should hire their strength trainer.
- Anxious to see how the NCAA hockey seedings shake out.
- While watching the Wild recording, I kept waiting for the late tying goal. Nice to shake off that monkey.
- Simon tops Gaborik in faceoff wins stat: Simon – 100% (1-1), Gabby 0% (0-1).
- Demitra needs to get better at face-offs down the stretch (Bennie – 67%, Koivu – 52%, Shep – 45%, Pavol – 27%).
- Benny played well, 19 shifts for 9:47, including key late shifts again.
- Johnsson got to play workhorse for the missing Foster – 31 shifts for 25:18.
- A plus game for Skoula, who only had 17:40 of ice time.
Today: Gophers play Denver for the WCHA title and Wild at Calgary.Originally published by DK on March 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm
What a start to the Final Five, eh? With 54 seconds left in regulation and the face-off in the Gophers end, I figured it would be yet another OT and went to tuck my kids into bed.
The Gophers quick early goal seemed to take the excitement out of this game early–at least compared to last weekend in Mankato. I was only half-watching most of the first two periods, but things really seemed to pick up in the third. That poke check by Kangas on the breakaway was sweet, as was the winning goal (that I missed when it happened live).
You have to wonder when the Gophers will run out of gas, but that wasn’t a problem tonight. I now wish I had purchased the WCHA ticket package this year. Tomorrow’s games will be fun: UND vs. Denver at 2:07pm and the Gophers vs. CC at 7:07pm.Originally published by DK on March 20, 2008 at 10:04 pm
Tough to stay up for these late games, eh? Thoughts on this non-HD game with my very favorite announcers:
- Mr. Leopold’s first act as new owner should be to re-sign Gabby for the rest of his career.
- Great fight between Boogey and Shelley – although it didn’t seem to pump up the Wild.
- Lots of falling by Skoula tonight (although the 4-on-1 seemed like a trip to me).
- Quit with the softies, Backs, it’s killing us.
- Always hated the icing touch-up rule in the pros. Get well Fozzie!
- Three on three was sweet – how about 20 minutes of that for OT instead of the shoot out?
On to beautiful Vancouver…Originally published by DK on March 20, 2008 at 12:30 am
I sent our little leprechauns with my wife for the St. Patrick’s Day showdown between the Wild and the Avs yesterday, so I watched the game on Versus in HD (the way hockey was meant to be watched when you can’t be there).
Thoughts from this game:
- Koivu was 68% on face offs, followed by Demitra at 62%, Shep at 50% and Benny at 43%.
- Welcome back Boogey! Six shifts for 2:29 of ice time.
- Skoula’s keep at the blue line led to the Branko goal from Burns. You go Good Marty!
- Glad Branko finally scored–I was beginning to think he didn’t know where the net was.
- 30 hits by the Wild, including some decent ones by Gabby.
- Benny played 14 shifts for 8:05, including some very late in the game.
Calgary at Columbus tonight should be interesting. Hopefully the Kings can tire out the Sharks enough tonight before the Wild play them tomorrow. Go Lubo!Originally published by DK on March 18, 2008 at 10:44 am
This weekend I left town to attend a concert in Lutsen, but wow was there some great Minnesota hockey played:
- Gophers vs. Mavericks goes three games (three OT games–two go to double OT)
- WCHA Frozen Five set: Gophers vs. Huskies Thursday night, Denver, CC and UND
- Wild snap the losing streak beating the Kings on Saturday night
- UMD women advance to Frozen Four (with Harvard, Wisconsin and New Hampshire)
Speaking of the women’s Frozen Four, why has this not been promoted more? It will be held this Thursday and Saturday (March 20 and 22) at the DECC in Duluth. If you are in the area, get tickets and check out an exciting NCAA championship in person.
Let’s see, what else…
The hockey coverage in the Duluth newspaper was awesome–stories all over the sports section. Got home in time to watch most of the very exciting Gophers game. Kangas looked great all weekend. The NHL’s Northwest Division is everything we expected–Calgary wins to pull even with the Wild and the Avs. Looks like Foppa and Foote will participate in the St. Patrick’s Day showdown tomorrow. Fun times for Minnesota hockey fans.Originally published by DK on March 16, 2008 at 11:35 pm
Wow, what a game in Mankato! Too bad my DVR cut off the second overtime…
To be honest, I haven’t watched the Gophers much this year. The last game I went to was the Frozen Five final versus North Dakota last year (one for the ages) and we passed up on tickets this year. Congrats to Minnesota State Mankato for overcoming the long losing streak. Can’t wait for the game tomorrow–I’ll make sure to record at least an extra hour this time.
My wife’s first college, St. Cloud State, beat her second school, Wisconsin, 3-0 in St. Cloud. And the Bulldogs lost in Denver 6-3. Not sure who I’m rooting for this year, but I’m guessing my first college, UND, will probably avenge that OT loss from last year…Originally published by DK on March 15, 2008 at 12:32 am
Got to the game late tonight due to a family event, so I missed the first period and the Wild’s two goals. The Devils came storming back and tied it before Brodeur gave up a pretty goal from Koivu to Gaborik right at the end of the second period. Devils tie it in the third, Brodeur stands on his head and the Wild lose again in a shootout.
My intent with this site is not to summarize the game in detail or write long opinions (there are plenty of other places for that). I plan to just write short, concise thoughts or observations from each game that I hope people will find interesting to read. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts from this game:
- Like Coach Lemaire said after the game, the difference was Brodeur–he was a lot of fun to watch.
- Didn’t know said wonder-goalie’s wife divorced him after he had an affair with his sister-in-law. Ouch.
- Burns looked awful at the start of overtime when we had 1:08 of 4 on 3.
- Lots of Devils jerseys in the stands tonight supporting the players from Minnesota (Parise, Langenbrunner and Martin)
- Still a wide-open division with Atlanta’s surprise third period over Calgary, the lowly Kings beating Nashville and Phoenix winning over the Canucks. Colorado is the new kid to worry about (even without Foppa and Ryan “Cry Me A River” Smyth).
- Wild get two points out of two tough playoff-bound teams when I expected zero.
- Don’t know how to solve the shoot-out problem with Backstrom, although he got no help from our shooters tonight either. Facing Brodeur in a shoot-out, though, is almost like an automatic forfeit anyway.
- Our newest center from Houston, Steve Kelly, got hurt in the second and didn’t return. Benny is on his way to Minnesota now–that should be interesting to watch.
- Tonight was the fourth and final puck giveaway (pictured above).
Next game: Los Angeles Kings here on Saturday night, no local TV (HD Net only)Originally published by DK on March 13, 2008 at 11:51 pm
Thoughts and opinions on Minnesota high school, collegiate and Wild hockey, plus whatever else I find time for before the season ends…Originally published by DK on March 12, 2008 at 12:25 am
The issues the Wild have at center have been discussed ad nauseum around the web. Here are some interesting stats, though, regarding centers and face-off percentages (through today):
- Walz, 135 face-offs, 45.92% win percentage
- Sheppard, 559, 41.86%
- Demitra, 757, 45.04%
- Koivu, 784, 50.76%
- Belanger, 1116, 49.19%
With the first and last now out, I guess Koivu needs to play about 30 minutes a game, eh?
Oh, and Wild/NHL management–why is it so hard to find stats like this?Originally published by DK on March 11, 2008 at 10:06 pm
How cool is this? Purchased on eBay last week and now a part of the office hockey shrine. Now I need to get the McDonald’s Canada mini hockey stick collection for 2007-08…
Viva La Canada!Originally published by DK on February 22, 2008 at 11:55 am
Finally got out to a Wild player appearance this season. Brent Burns was at the Lunds grocery store in Highland Park–just down the road from my office. The weather was really cold, but the crowd waiting was still a decent size (maybe a 15 minute wait). Too bad the girls were not feeling good…Originally published by DK on February 2, 2008 at 3:56 pm
Last night was our first visit this season to the Xcel Energy Center to see the Wild play the St. Louis Blues. Pre-season games aren’t usually the greatest, but the Wild won 7-0 and it was great fun to be back in that atmosphere.
My aunt and uncle moved their season ticket seats to the upper level (section 216) and I really like the location. Much more reasonable price too.
Bring on the regular season!Originally published by DK on September 27, 2007 at 4:13 pm
On our way back from Fortune Bay, we drove through Eveleth past the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. With all of the talk about it closing or moving, we weren’t sure if it was still open. Their website says it’s closed and the parking lot only had one car in it. Good thing we actually stopped to check–they are open and will apparently stay in that location.
We paid our admission fees ($8 for adults?) and had the place to ourselves. There was a ton of great stuff to see there for hockey fans–I’ve uploaded some pictures to the photo gallery here.
My favorite thing was the mock rink and goal they had on the third floor with real sticks and pucks. I’m pretty sure I’ve never shot a real puck before–makes me want to take skating lessons all the more now.
If you are in the area and like hockey, stop in and support this great museum.Originally published by DK on June 22, 2007 at 10:06 pm
About a week ago, my oldest child received a mailing from the Minnesota Wild Kids Club. One sheet was an ad for an upcoming ice show, while the other had a trivia contest promising prizes for the first 50 kids to respond with the correct answers. We went through the ten questions right away (with the help of wild.com) and mailed it in the next day.
Today a package arrived with an autographed copy of the 2006-07 Wild Yearbook! We hadn’t purchased one of those this year, so it was a double treat. Brent Burns and Manny Fernandez hand-signed the cover…too cool!Originally published by DK on May 8, 2007 at 11:02 pm
Well, at least we got to see the best game of the series. My daughter and I attended game four of the first round series between the Wild and the Ducks. My voice was hoarse from yelling at the refs, but the team did a great job of overcoming those obstacles and getting the 4-1 win.
Unfortunately, they did themselves in last night in Anaheim. It was too bad they didn’t have the services of Johnsson and White, but the Ducks were just the better team this year. The vastly superior power play was too much for them to overcome.
The Wild had a great year and we are proud of them. Every player and representative from the organization that we met this year was fantastic–friendly and very kind to my daughters. They are a first-class operation and we can’t wait until next season. We are still in the warming house and are anxious for the next select-a-seat event to see if we can get those upper level seats for next season.
Cheers to the men in red, white and green. Go Wild!Originally published by DK on April 20, 2007 at 9:48 pm
Top Row (l to r): Bobby Smith, Curt Giles, Dino Ciccarelli, Jack Carlson
Bottom Row (l to r): Mike Eaves, Neal Broten, Steve Christoff, Steve Payne
In a promotion sponsored by S&S Tree and Horticultural Specialists, two kids are selected to sit on the bench during each Wild pre-game warm-up. On Tuesday this week, my kids were picked!
The night was a total blast (apart from the Wild losing in a shoot-out). We arrived a little before six and picked up four will-call tickets for the game (last row of club level, center ice). A friendly Wild representative met us at the security desk next to gate one and brought us down to arena level. After signing release forms, the kids each picked out helmets to wear.
We all took a quick tour around the entire lower level–past the media interview room, both locker rooms, down the hallway the Wild take to get on the ice (which had new, large, signed photos of game highlights on the wall), through the Fishing Lodge (and the Kevin Falness studio), past the media dining room, officials lounge and the Zamboni garage. I stayed in the Zamboni tunnel while the kids were on the bench, while my wife stayed in the stands next to them (only the kids got to be on the bench).
It was hard to get good photos of them from where I was behind the goal, but I did get a shot of the scoreboard when they were on the videoscreen. I also got a few good action shots of the players. Josh Harding was the only player to talk to the girls, but Keith Carney gave them a big smile. The kids both got pucks from the practice afterwards–what a great experience.
Thanks to S&S and the Wild for the great prize!Originally published by DK on March 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm