Kukla's Korner Hockey
via the Minnesota Wild,
“Wes Walz has requested and been granted an indefinite leave of absence from the team. We have no further details at this time.”
Tapeleg at Jerseys and Hockey Love has proven, yet again, that his life is endlessly cooler than mine:
I had Monday night off, and so I was able to attend another game at the Xcel Energy Center here in Minnesota. The thing that made this special was that I went as a guest of Branko Radivojevic. Trust me, I know. What the hell? Who the heck am I that I get to be a guest of a player? Well, the truth is, I had never met the man until last night.
Check out the whole post. Tapeleg and friends got a tour of the Wild locker rooms as Radivojevic’s guest, and there’s a pile of photos from the experience.
via the Pioneer Press,
The Minnesota Wild will throw another depleted lineup on the ice tonight when they play host to the Edmonton Oilers. Marian Gaborik is out, Pavol Demitra is out and Wes Walz hasn’t come back.
Gaborik and Demitra have groin injuries; Walz hasn’t returned from an excused, and unexplained, absence and will miss his third game.
Gaborik played the past two games and played well, scoring five points, including a two-goal game in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Calgary. He sat out practice Sunday, but reporters were told he was simply given the day off.
Asked if something changed between Sunday and this morning, when Gaborik was pulled from practice, coach Jacques Lemaire said, “Something changed a bit.”
from the Star Tribune,
Thursday morning, the Wild front office said Walz, one of the most popular players in team history, would be away for “two or three days.” Saturday night, General Manager Doug Risebrough referred questions regarding Walz to his agent, Jay Grossman.
Via e-mail Sunday, Grossman said that he understands the concern and the need to address Walz’s absence, but “the matter is personal and he is going to need additional time.”
Update 12:23pm ET: More from Michael Russo
...I think we’ll hear from Walz soon — whether he announces his retirement or says he’s thoroughly refreshed and ready to return. He’s an emotional player who has contemplated retirement before. After taking some days away from the game to clear his head, he’s always decided to stay.
This might be different though. He’s never left the team in the middle of the season, and from talking to people that know him, if he doesn’t feel he can play at the highest level, he’d walk away at peace.
from Ross McKeon at Yahoo,
But back to the task at hand: Choosing a new destination we can call Hockeytown, USA. Taking into consideration attendance, fan loyalty, a cozy relationship between the team and its region, a city that’s just right for the NHL, and our choice is pretty clear. Saint Paul, Minn., home of the Minnesota Wild, fits the bill.
Buffalo, Long Island, Denver, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have all had their moments both recently and long ago, but the rejuvenated market in Minnesota gets our vote.
From Jim Souhan at the Star-Tribune,
With a French-Canadian lilt that transforms Marian Gaborik into “Mary-Ann,” and the ability to invert sentences like Yoda, Lemaire offers insights and hockey philosophy in a soft-spoken tone that makes listeners lean forward in anticipation.
Tuesday morning, Lemaire raved about Penguins phenom and Shattuck-St. Mary’s product Sidney Crosby. Tuesday night, Lemaire watched Crosby become the third opponent ever to score four points at Xcel Energy Center, in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory.
Lemaire praised Wes Walz’s checking line for its defense on Crosby—even though Crosby’s line produced nine points.
The performance left Lemaire feeling covetous. “I’d love to have one on our club,” he said of Crosby, “if they make any more.”
From Michael Russo at the Star-Tribune,
When “Sid the Kid” really was a kid, or more accurately a hotshot teenager burning out red goal lights for fun at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn., Crosby, like thousands of Minnesotans, got caught up in Wild Fever. It was 2003, and the Wild was in the midst of its Cinderella run to the Western Conference finals. Crosby, a native of Nova Scotia, was 15 years old attending the Minnesota boarding school/hockey haven, and he spent many nights cheering on the Wild down at 7th and Kellogg.
“When Minnesota made the run there, I was lucky enough to see all the playoff games and go to games as a fan,” Crosby said during a telephone interview. “I went to five or 10 games during the year, too, and every game was sold out. Even for a regular-season game, the atmosphere there is pretty amazing.
“But in the playoffs, especially, it was a fun place to be. I remember thinking, ‘Boy, this would be a cool place to play,’ so it’s kind of fun that I’m going to have a chance to finally play there.”
from the Pioneer Press,
Marian Gaborik injured his groin in practice Saturday and will miss Sunday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.
General manager Doug Risebrough said he made the decision to sit Gaborik as a precaution. The right wing is officially listed as day to day, which is how his 34-day layoff last season started.
“I’m definitely not going to miss 40 games again,” Gaborik said….
That wasn’t the only bad news the Wild absorbed at practice Saturday. No. 1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom also left practice early because of a groin injury and will not play against Colorado
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
The truth? Lemaire doesn’t play Boogaard because of a lack of confidence, not in Boogaard but in referees. Lemaire feels some refs have branded Boogaard a dirty player and focus only on the 6-7 giant when he’s on the ice….
“It’s frustrating. It’s been following me ever since I’ve been junior, you know?” Boogaard said. “I’m trying to play. ... I’m not out there to hurt people or try to start stuff.
“I can talk ‘til I’m blue in the face. It’s not changing. It’s too bad. They don’t want bigger, physical players in the league.”
Asked how this could change, he said: “I guess I have to get 50 goals a year. ... Maybe they want me to snap and go rip someone’s head off, I don’t know.”
from Darren Eliot at Sports Illustrated,
Watching the Minnesota Wild so far this season is to witness the importance of team identity in the NHL. They play the same way all the time. While talent is necessary to succeed, under the regime of GM Doug Risebrough and head coach Jacques Lemaire, the Wild consistenly employ a style executed by players who are well-suited to it.
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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