One of my favorite board games growing up was Stratego by Milton-Bradley. Its a pretty simple 2-player game of strategy that is really kind of a simplified version of chess but as originally made with a Napoleonic theme. The various pieces were labeled as various rank of soldiers (Scouts, Sergeants, Generals, etc) or bombs. To win the game, all you had to do was to capture the opponent’s flag. The deployment of one’s pieces, both in your pre-game set up and once the action begins are skills you develop through experience.
No doubt the agent of star winger Krill Kaprizov; Paul Theofanous, tried to use all of his experience as he spent most of the summer posturing and feinting at his client returning to play in the Kontinental Hockey League to attempt to leverage the best deal he could. The Minnesota Wild did their best to stay calm despite the jabs posted on Twitter and comments made to the media that were meant to provoke General Manager Bill Guerin to giving in. All fans could do was sit back and wait for the two sides to come together.
After the team made some initial offers in the spring and at the end of the season that were rebuked by Kaprizov and his agent, the Wild GM stayed calm and poised throughout the process. So as the weeks slipped by and the team got closer and closer to the opening of training camp, the team didn’t budge from its offer of $9 million a season for 5 years.
Ultimately that’s the deal that Kaprizov accepted which includes a full no trade clause in the 4th and 5th year of the deal. That may prompt the team to start extension talks in year 3 of the deal before the full no trade kicks in or they might feel compelled to deal him before their hands become tied.
Unlike some Wild fans out there, I’m not exactly thrilled at this contract. I think its too much for a player who has played less than 60 NHL games and while 5 years gives the team at least one season to try to prove itself worthy to its star player by giving him the support that he needs as the heavy buyout years of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are over but they keep him around that long they will be hoping he wants to stick around. But do we really think he wants to stay in Minnesota? Nevermind the fact he could’ve signed this same deal several weeks ago, nevermind how he crapped on a fanbase that almost fell over itself trying to welcome him to the State of Hockey. You can even try to ignore the 5 years of delaying and stalling that he did even before he did finally sign with the Wild the first time. But he was a player with no leverage, no arbitration rights but the team let him negotiate down to a 5-year deal. With the full no trade clauses the final two years it might as well been a 3-year deal.
Yes having Kaprizov will sell more tickets but now the 3-year clock is ticking. Will those fans whining to the team to pay Kaprizov whatever he wants understand when the team has to trade him away or risk losing him for absolutely nothing? Probably not. They will say the organization is being cheap when its just protecting the value he has as an asset. However that will be exactly what Wild General Manager Bill Guerin must do if he can’t get him to agree to a long-term extension before the end of year 3.
So to Wild fans, I say enjoy the next season or two with your Russian star because unless they convince him to sign another extension in 3 years they’ll have no choice but to move him.
Minnesota Wild reveals its 2022 Winter Classic jersey
The Minnesota State Fair is a great annual tradition that brings in several thousand people each year to walk around the farm and wildlife inspired exhibits, the Midway and the endless amount of vendors selling (insert food here) on a stick. So it was no real surprise that the organization chose the ‘Great Minnesota Get Together’ to reveal their 2022 Winter Classic jerseys.
To use Minnesotan parlance, “that’s different” is about as kind as I can muster. The jerseys are another ill-fated attempt for a classic look. Ever since the club arrived in 2000, they have tried to embrace elements of older style jerseys into their uniforms. Whether its the laces near the collar, or stylized script lettering from a bygone era it is the organization’s attempt to acknowledge the past and tradition of previous Minnesota hockey clubs. Yet this one seems forced and extra convoluted with a random top stripe that doesn’t go around the sweater and ugly elbow patches that look like the kind of you see from your dad’s old corduroy sport jacket from the 1970’s.
Since the game is being played at Target Field, they felt compelled to incorporate Minneapolis onto the front of the jersey but because of the length of that name they used the abbreviation ‘MPLS’ instead. With St. Paul listed below a small outline of Minnesota as the main crest it really isn’t too bad. But the mustard-colored breezers and gloves are garish and the aforementioned patches on the sleeves look silly as they cover up the striping.
I will admit these jerseys are more striking than the boring 2016 Stadium Series sweaters, but even for a one-off these are pretty nasty unless you wear Minnesota Wild tinted glasses. Reaction to the jersey from fans has been mixed as you can see below in this Twitter poll done by our friends at the Huskies Warming House.
Alright Folks, what do we think of the new @mnwild threads? We will announce the results of the poll on the show tomorrow! If you pick the last one, feel free to comment your change!@CenterIceClub @SCSUHUSKIES @CreaseAndAssist @benholdenpxp @CalebJPeabody @GOHUSKIESWOOOOO
— The Huskies Warming House Podcast (@WarmingHouseDen) September 4, 2021
I agree with many fans who felt they would’ve been better off making the stylized script “M” as their main logo instead of this busy mess. When you add the fact the team’s colors make most people think of Christmas, all it needs is lights and you can wear this one to your ugly Christmas sweater party for years to come.
Sort of like the opponent the team was given for the 2022 Winter Classic, the St. Louis Blues, I don’t think this sweater is going to ramp up the excitement for a game that was already delayed by a year due to the pandemic. My guess is perhaps out of boredom they threw together a bunch of random ideas and then forced it onto a jersey. Sometimes more doesn’t necessarily make it better. For an organization that did such a great job with its retro-reverse sweater this is a major disappointment. Although if there is any silver lining to this jersey fail, I won’t be spending $120 or more to buy one. Like a proper Minnesotan when asked if they’d like some dessert, I’ll smile and say “I’ll pass.”
Or as my partner in crime Theresa Ferries tweeted…
It’s like one of those Magic Eye pictures from the 90s….if we stare, cross-eyed at it long enough at it, we’ll see a contender and not a pretender? https://t.co/coNV83gE1i
— Theresa Ferries (@MNSOTA24) September 4, 2021
Joe O’Donnell Hired to be the Wild’s new Radio Play-By-Play Voice
After working his way up over the last 14 years since joining the organization to be the voice of the then American Hockey League affiliate the Houston Aeros. Since then he’s made the move from Houston to Iowa where he’s been the ‘baby’ Wild’s play-by-play man for the last 8 years. O’Donnell has had a few stints over the last few years as the team experimented with a variety of voices like SCSU’s Jim Erickson, Wild studio host Kevin Falness and Vikings play-by-play man Paul Allen for the radio play-by-play role as incumbent broadcaster Bob Kurtz has started to step closer to retirement.
Much like Kurtz, the Philadelphia-native’s play-by-play style paints the picture without trying to be bigger than the game itself. His self-deprecating humor should match well with analyst Tom Reid who also relishes taking the opportunity to teasing himself and others. Kurtz is not completely stepping down from the job, as he will be still calling 22 home games this season but O’Donnell will be doing the rest. I wrote about Joe O’Donnell’s incredibly busy schedule as both a broadcaster and team promotion workhorse a few weeks ago.
Bob Kurtz is a classic radio voice and its bittersweet that his career is nearing an end. The 22-games will be a great chance for the fans to give their appreciation to one of the classic voices of the game. For O’Donnell its the chance to achieve the dream he started so long ago when he graduated from the University of Delaware and started calling games in the ECHL with the Idaho Steelheads back in 2007. Congratulations to both fine broadcasters!
What do you think of Kaprizov’s contract, the choice of Joe O’Donnell as the club’s new radio voice or the team’s 2022 Winter Classic jerseys? Tell us what you think on Twitter at @CreaseAndAssist!