Only a hoot and holler away from one of the most legendary stages in all of music, the Ryman Auditorium, the Minnesota Wild will audition its newest member, Sean Bergenheim, in Nashville. The forward will make his Wild debut alongside captain Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek tonight against the Predators.
With the way that Vanek and Koivu have been playing recently, Yeo believes the combination will be able create offensive chances and wanted to link them to a tenacious wing.
“We also think they need somebody who’s going to be on the puck, somebody that’s going to hound pucks, somebody who’s going to forecheck,” Yeo said. “He’s obviously very strong and very well conditioned.
“I think his game reflects that in a lot of ways.”
The bench boss said that Bergenheim plays a two-way game and will win battles along the wall and in the offensive zone, which pairs nicely with Koivu. The native of Helsinki, Finland, he grew up playing with and against the Wild captain. He’s ready for the opportunity and likes the vibe of the Wild’s locker room.
“The mood is very, very good and I’m excited to be here,” Bergenheim said.
His flight was cancelled last night, so it’s been a long morning of traveling with an early flight to Nashville. Florida was coming off a 10-day road trip, when the Wild acquired him. The delay gave him a little more time with his family.
“It was a day home and pack a few warm jackets with me,” Bergenheim said.
In adding a new winger to the group, Yeo was able to unite few lines that have had past chemistry. Mikael Granlund (who turns 23 today and shares a birthday with Johnny Cash) will center Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, while Charlie Coyle will be between Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Schroeder.
“I don’t think it’s fair for us to expect or demand perfection right from the start; new system, new players,” Yeo said. “There are a lot of changes, but certainly he’ll be able to come in here and provide some energy for us.”
The 31-year-old collected 18 points (8-10=18) with the Panthers this season. The 6-foot, 193-pound wing has tallied 179 points (95-84=179) in 489 career NHL games with the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida.
Minnesota acquired the 31-year-old and a 2016 seventh-round draft pick from the Florida Panthers in exchange for the Wild’s 2016 third-round selection on Feb. 24.
Bergenheim will wear number 23.
About 100 Minnesota fans and corporate partners made the trek to Music City to watch the Wild and check out the music on Broadway. After a night of singing along with all the live music, we hope they have still have their voices to get a few “Let’s go Wild!” chants resonating in the stands. Stick tap to Minnesota’s corporate and fan relations teams for keeping them in line dancing.