Minnesota Wild (9-7-2) 20pts 2nd in the Northwest
2.06 Goals For (30th)
2.33 Goals Against (8th)
13.8% Power Play (26th)
85.0% Penalty Kill (6th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 8G 5A = 13pts
2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 3G 10A = 13pts
3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 0G 11A = 11pts
4. #15 Dany Heatley ~ 5G 4A = 9pts
5. #7 Matt Cullen ~ 3G 6A = 9pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 52 PIM's
2. #27 Mike Rupp ~ 22 PIM's
3. #10 Devin Setoguchi ~ 14 PIM's
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (7-5-2) 2.17GAA .919%SP
2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (1-1-0) 2.02GAA .934%SP
3. #37 Josh Harding (1-1-0) 2.92GAA .885%SP 1SO
Phoenix Coyotes (9-7-3) 21pts 5th in the Pacific
2.79 Goals For (12th)
2.58 Goals Against (13th)
16.9% Power Play (16th)
84.8% Penalty Kill (8th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #89 Mikkel Boedker ~ 4G 9A = 13pts
2. #17 Radim Vrbata ~ 4G 9A = 13pts
3. #23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson ~ 3G 9A = 12pts
4. #11 Martin Hanzal ~ 3G 7A = 10pts
5. #50 Antoine Vermette ~ 5G 5A = 10pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #24 Kyle Chipchura ~ 37 PIM's
2. #3 Keith Yandle ~ 28 PIM's
3. #19 Shane Doan ~ 19 PIM's
1. #41 Mike Smith (7-5-2) 2.63GAA .909%SP 3SO
2. #31 Chad Johnson (1-0-1) .98GAA .952%SP 1SO
3. #1 Jason LaBarbera (1-2-0) 2.83GAA .908%SP
Click on "Continue Reading" for the rest of the article…
Compared to most teams in the National Hockey League, the Minnesota Wild has a relatively short history. Yet, we have a rich, long hockey history. The Minnesota Wild has honored those roots since their inception. Whether it's the ring of high school hockey jerseys in the concourse, which has been imitated by other teams (as the old saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery) to inviting past stars (including State Tournament stars) of the game to be involved with the team on game nights are a testament to this long history. While we may be the "new" kids on the block, we're far from being "new" in the community.
To some it may seem cheesy, but what I really appreciate is how the Wild have always seemed to reach out to its own relatively short history. The first example came when they brought former Wild defenseman, Brad Bombardir, into the front office. Bombardir currently serves as Director of Player Development. One of his main roles is to visit, work with and evaluate the team's prospects. One of his biggest events of the year is usually the team's prospect camp during the summer. Bombardir has always struck me as an honest, hard-working individual and his personality is one that seems approachable, especially to young players who are just starting their professional careers. His work ethic as a Wild player during those formative years of the team can only serve as an example for the young men who hope for a long, successful National Hockey League Career.
The next former Wild player to be brought into the Wild's fold was Minnesota-born forward, Darby Hendrickson. At first, it felt like a bit of a media ploy. We had a new coach in Todd Richards, who was also a former player for the University of Minnesota. While Richards didn't last long in the system, Hendrickson was kept on the coaching staff by current head coach Mike Yeo. While Hendrickson was never a star player in the NHL, he was serviceable. And every team needs those hard working, role players, and that is what Hendrickson was. One reason that I personally think that Hendrickson has been kept on, even through a coaching change, is that Hendrickson was pretty much taught his role by one of the greatest hockey minds, Jacques Lemaire. For a team like the Wild who are currently struggling to find their identity and scoring touch, it is more important than ever for the team to be as defensively minded as possible and limit the opposition's scoring chances.
Rounding out the front office and operations trio of former Wild players is probably the most famous of the bunch. Just earlier this month, Andrew Brunette was brought on as Hockey Operations Advisor. When reading the job description of this particular position, he will be wearing many hats with this organization. His job duties will entail everything from scouting to free agent signings to helping with the evaluation and development of prospects. Not only will he be working closely with Wild General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, but with his former teammates that I have already mentioned. Brunette was an obvious choice to be brought into the fold. For fans, he essentially can do no wrong, as he will always be loved simply for the goal he scored the game winner in Game Seven against Colorado during the first round of the 2002-03 playoffs. I know for myself, I still watch that video from time to time.
The fourth member of the former Wild brought in, was also a natural choice. Although, I must say I wish that Wes Walz was either in Mike Greenlay's spot in the broadcast booth or was in the front office. However, considering the fluff we usually get from the crew at Fox Sports-North I know I appreciate having someone like Walz who calls it like it is. He's the only voice on the television broadcast crew who will pretty much call out players for playing poorly. But then he, like Bombardir, Hendrickson, and Brunette were all molded by Lemaire. Lemaire was a coach who preached personal responsibility for the good of the team. Lemaire would tell you point blank in a post-game press conference that played horribly. Now Walz doesn't have quite the same way of doing so as Lemaire, but he's not going to tell fans that the team played well when they didn't. Considering the struggles that the team has faced this season, he is the voice of reality that everyone needs. Walz's ability to tell the fans the truth was furthered evidenced by his comments in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. If there was ever a player who fully bought into Lemaire's system of being responsible defensively, it was Wes Walz. Walz, along with his longtime linemate, Antti Laaksonen, often made the other team pay for their mistakes with their smarts and speed. Walz is giving the team a lot of credit for their team defense, and keeping the opposition off of the scoreboard as much as they've been able to. If there's anyone that can judge that ability, it's Walz.
With these former Wild players with the team, we can only hope that the current Wild players can channel their personalities and work ethic. Sure, these four players will never really be remembered outside of Minnesota when they're long gone, but their places in Wild history are there. While we don't always want history to repeat itself, the history that they bring to the table, is a history and tradition that I'd like to see once again.