There are really two responses a hockey player can come up with when asked if there’s extra motivation to play against the team that traded him. Of course there’s, “I’m just treating it like any of the other 82 games I play this year.”
The other option is, “Heck yeah, there’s extra motivation. In fact, my plan is to score three goals and then skate to center ice and spike my stick on their logo.”
Minnesota Wild center Kyle Brodziak
went with the second option. Well, that’s not entirely true, unfortunately.
But he admits that there is some extra motivation for him tonight when the Wild takes on the Edmonton Oilers in their first game against a Northwest Division opponent. Not only was Brodziak an Oiler for parts of four seasons, including the last two years when he played in 150 games and posted 25 goals and 33 assists. But, he also was born and raised in St. Paul, Alberta, about a two-hour drive from Rexall Place.
“You definitely want to win the game, and do your best,” said Brodziak before addressing his offseason trade. “Obviously the circumstances of getting traded, you want to come back and show the team that hopefully they made a mistake giving up on you.”
Brodziak was acquired by the Wild this summer in exchange for two 2009 draft picks (fourth rounder Kyle Bigos and fifth rounder Olivier Roy). He was one player that was brought in that was familiar with new Head Coach Todd Richards, having played for him with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins during the 2006-2007 season.
“To me, he’s a really reliable player,” explained Richards. “He’s a versatile player that can play on the wing, or in the middle. And, he’s a good penalty kill guy.”
Despite being shown the door by his hometown team, Brodziak is quite content in his move to Minnesota. He, his wife, Nicole, and his dog, Koko, have acclimated quite nicely to the Twin Cities. He has fit in well with his teammates. He’s getting ice time in every situation. All is good, except one thing.
“It’s been great. I’ve had a lot of fun so far. It’s a great group of guys. The only thing now is we want to get a couple more wins and start turning things around for the team. That’s the only thing that I wish was different right now. “
For the Wild to turn things around on its 0-3 road trip, Brodziak is going to have to play a major role. With early season injuries to Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Cal Clutterbuck
, Petr Sykora and Martin Havlat, Brodziak will have to step up and produce for Minnesota. He says he welcomes the chance.
“It’s a little added pressure, but it’s pressure that you want,” he said.
Brodziak also wants to step up his game. He, along with Richards, clearly expects more.
“(Richards) knows what I’m capable of,” said Brodziak. “And I’m just trying to work to get my game back to where it should be, and where it should have been for awhile now. I’m making steps to get better and to be the player I know I can be.”
If he can be that player, he can make a difference in turning things around, and he hopes it starts against his former team.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to win a game, so hopefully we can get our first win of the road trip and turn things around for our team.”