Kukla's Korner Hockey
The Minnesota Wild defeated the Winnipeg Jets last night 8-1...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
The Wild took advantage by winning big. Things predictably got chippy late, and Jets coach Paul Maurice, who last year unsolicited lauded Mike Yeo to the Winnipeg press for Coach of the Year, voiced his displeasure with Yeo throwing out his best players late in the rout.
“You never get an option in this league,” said Maurice. “You get into those games and you know, they're going to keep putting out good players, like when they've got an 8-1 lead and they've got a power play, the best is coming out. In an exhibition game.”
Maurice, when asked if he had some frustration about how his opponents conducted themselves, said, “No, it was just an honor to be in the same building with them tonight.”
Yeo said he played his big guys late because he was “pretty upset” Anthony Peluso was running around. Peluso was hardly the only one. And it is true that before the Jets started getting into it with guys like Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, Yeo was using guys like Brett Bulmer, Tyler Graovac, Erik Haula and Ryan Carter on the power play.
Whatever. It’ll blow over. Or it’ll just add to a brewing rivalry.
more on the game...
Below, watch Paul Maurice post-game...
“If I wanted points and goals, I would have signed with the Islanders and had a center like Johnny [Tavares] and a winger like Kyle [Okposo], but I came back here because I thought we had depth and one of the best defenses in the league. Minnesota is special to me and being a former Gopher and winning, I’d like to come back here and contribute to getting a Cup.
“But I knew the goals and points would be harder. They’re not going to be any easier this year just because I feel better. We don’t have maybe the strongest depth in the middle, so I’ll have to find a way again of probably making more plays than shooting and creating chances rather than getting chances.”
-Thomas Vanek of the Minnesota Wild. More on Vanek from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
In the cruelest of ironies, the two cornerstone pieces and closest of friends that the Wild signed in 2012 each lost his father four months apart last season.
It made for a miserable year for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, one that required balancing professionalism during the public eye of a hockey season with the heartache that comes with losing the men they idolized the most.
“It was hard. I’m not going to lie,” Parise said of mourning the loss of his dad, J.P., following a battle with cancer so soon after Suter lost his dad, Bob, of a sudden heart attack. “At this point now, this year can only be better, I guess. It was a long season, a long year away from the rink.
“You know, there’s always something that makes you think of him. Every single day, there’s something that reminds you. That’s just life. It’ll hit me sometimes where you get sad, or sometimes you just laugh. Your mind’s always working. But what’s been good for me is to have kids of my own where I lose myself with them and not just drive myself crazy.
“That’s what helped me through it a ton last year, to be honest. But I’m in a good spot mentally now where I think this year can only be better.”
from Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press,
Niklas Backstrom loomed over the Minnesota Wild like a ghost during the 2015 NHL playoffs, his apparition relegated to breakfast workouts with scratches while season savior Devan Dubnyk and erstwhile starter Darcy Kuemper manned practice nets.
The franchise's most prolific goaltender receded into summer certain to be bought out by management eager to divest itself of the classy but oft-injured 37-year-old who had become, in the parlance of the salary cap era, excess baggage.
Make that carry-on baggage.
Backstrom was back in the crease Friday morning at Xcel Energy Center among the first Wild players to scrimmage the first day of training camp. Recovered from offseason elbow surgery that soldered him to the payroll for another season, he looked sharp in allowing just one goal in 25 minutes of the initial scrimmage.
So he's got that going for him, which is nice. But the awkwardness of Backstrom's unexpected presence is palpable, from the steady degradation of his game to the tangled timing of his operation.
from Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press,
Inside a dark ice rink on a warm Saturday morning in August, Ryan Suter is on all fours ripping out sections of rubber glued to the concrete.
Since returning home in May after the Minnesota Wild ended their season with another playoff loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Suter has had his eye on the rubber that wraps around the ice rink in this Madison suburb.
The rubber was too dirty, old and tattered, he thought, and now that the rink carries the name of Ryan's late father, Bob, everything needs to be perfect.
So on a sunny day, Suter, his younger brother Garrett and a couple of teenagers who play for Garrett's junior hockey team here removed the rubber from the floor, power-washed it out behind the rink and stacked it for use later.
The work started at 6 a.m., and by late morning, sweat was pouring off Ryan Suter's forehead even in the cold rink. Garrett looked at Ryan and wondered aloud how many other NHL players would spend their summers this way, working 10 hours a day in a dark ice rink.
Ryan thought about that, if only for a moment. After an 82-game grind -- and, in Suter's case, 10 postseason games -- NHL players tend to devote summers to relaxing and recharging. Not Suter, who shook his head at the thought and went back to work on the flooring.
"I don't have the patience for golf or fishing," he said.
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Fletcher said as of now he's not inclined to bring in any unsigned veterans to camp on pro tryouts, although he said that could change once he meets with the coaches next week. I have gotten the impression the Wild has at least talked about bringing in some center insurance like Stephen Weiss, but like I said, Fletcher told me right now it's not in his thinking. If the Wild suffers injury or poor performance in camp, Fletcher feels those options may still be there (for instance, maybe you sign Weiss or James Sheppard or Scott Gomez, who will go to St. Louis on a tryout) or there will be guys available via trade or waivers.
more on the Wild...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
For the past two weeks, almost every single weekday, Matt Cooke has skated hard at Braemar Ice Arena in Edina with several NHLers, including old Wild teammates Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville and guys like Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Okposo, Derek Stepan, Dustin Byfuglien, James van Riemsdyk and Ryan McDonagh.
The only difference between him and many others is the veteran winger, who turns 37 on Labor Day, hasn’t latched onto an NHL team since being bought out of the final year of his contract by the Wild in June.
“This is the first time I’ve had to go through it,” Cooke said this week. “I knew it was coming. I just thought it might be after next year as opposed to this year, but it’s the cards that I’ve been dealt.
“I was hurt last year. There was some mismanagement on my [hip] injury, and part of that is my fault. It led to me getting hurt twice in one season. I’m 36 years old, I only played 30 games last year and then me getting bought out, that’s a tough scenario [to find a job].
“Patience is a virtue and right now all I’m doing is making sure I stay ready, that I get ready. We’re still three weeks away [from camp].”
continued plus more Wild topics...
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
This is not a list of the "best" player on each team but the most important. And important is a relative term to be sure.
To be honest, Vanek has been relatively disappointing since signing a three-year contract with the Wild in the summer of 2014. In fact, he was relatively disappointing before signing the deal but that didn’t stop general manager Chuck Fletcher from bestowing a three-year deal worth $6.5 million annually on the skilled winger.
The Wild are at a kind of crossroads having made the playoffs in three straight seasons, advancing to the second round in each of the last two appearances. Fletcher has assembled an enticing blend of veterans led by Parise and Suter -- the undisputed leaders on this team -- and impressive youngsters, including Jonas Brodin, Jason Zucker, Erik Haula, Matt Dumba and newcomer Mike Reilly. Fletcher also locked up Vezina Trophy nominee Devan Dubnyk for the long haul after acquiring the netminder from the Arizona Coyotes last season.
from Dave Aeikens of KSTP,
Minnesota Wild assistant coach Darryl Sydor was arrested Thursday in Fridley on suspicion of driving drunk with his 12-year-son in the sport utility vehicle, according to Lt. Mike Monsrud of the Fridley Police Department.
Sydor was stopped at 5:15 p.m. on Minnesota Highway 65 and Medtronic Parkway in Fridley while he was on his way to his son's hockey game in Brooklyn Park, Monsrud said.
Sydor's blood alcohol level was 0.30, Monsrud said; he is expected to appear in court Friday on drunk driving and child endangerment charges.
thanks to a tweet from Chad Graff for the pointer
from Jon Lane of NHL.com,
Here are four reasons for optimism in Minnesota:
Stability in goal: The Wild have their finest goaltending depth in years with Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper. Dubnyk went 27-9-2 with five shutouts, a 1.78 goals-against average and .936 save percentage after he was traded to Minnesota by the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 15. He was rewarded with a six-year, $26 million contract and is the unquestioned No. 1 goalie, but won't have to start 39 of 40 games again.
Kuemper is 27-22-6 with a 2.48 GAA and .910 save percentage in 63 NHL games (56 starts). He is capable of giving Dubnyk a breather, which is important considering Dubnyk and the Wild ran out of steam against the Blackhawks.
"Right from the start I want [Devan] to compete and I want him to play a lot of hockey games, but we know Darcy Kuemper is very capable," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I think he'll provide some good support for Devan. And Devan is going to help him too, an awful lot. As a young player (25), there's not going to be quite as much on his shoulders as there was in the past, and that will allow him to kind of settle into his own game, feel confident, feel good about himself, and with that we'll see his game continue to rise."
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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