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Best Wild Week Ever

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild
A stick salute is the only way to cap off the Best Wild Week Ever.
It seems like eons since we had a Best Wild Week Ever. The past five months had some highlights, no doubt. There was the re-signing of Niklas Backstrom, the drafting of one of the all-time great hockey names (Colton Gillies), the Wells Fargo Wild Road Tour and plenty of warm weather. I may even venture to say that it was the Best Wild Summer Ever.

But there wasn’t a seven day span in there, which I could say with great certainty that was better than the previous Best Wild Week Ever on record, which was last April if you’re scoring at home.

Ladies and Gentlemen: we have a new champion. Last week brought a new season, a new Anthem singer and new heroes to the Xcel Energy Center. The fact that the Wild won both games in the week was an afterthought. All tolled, there isn’t a dissenter on the BWWE staff. The week of October 1 through October 7, 2007 was unequivocally the Best Wild Week Ever.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Any nutritionist, trainer, doctor or authentic healer will tell you it’s important to start the week, and the season, with a hearty meal. This goes for fans and players alike, and on Monday, they were able to break bread together at the St. Paul Chamber Face-Off Luncheon held at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul.

At this event, a different Wild player is seated with paying customers. Each player is introduced to the crowd by emcees Dan Terhaar, Mike Greenlay and the one and only, Kevin Falness.

The running joke this year would be whether or not Josh Harding would show up. Last year, Harding attended the event and was re-assigned to the Houston Aeros about an hour after wiping his face clean with a napkin. Harding did show, and he broke the luncheon jinx. He’s here for good, and he’s off to a good start in the Best Wild Week Ever.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

With the roster for the opener set, just a few housecleaning items remained for the Wild staff. Most importantly, the team needed a designated leader for the month of October. Someone who could wear a “C” on his left shoulder, just above his heart, where the passion is located and owned by a true leader (How was that? A little much? I’m just trying to capture the spirit of the thing).

That honor was bestowed on Pavol Demitra, who was named this month’s captain. Other than in preseason games, Demitra had never been named a captain and he was thrilled with the honor.

The decision was easy for Jacques Lemaire, who watched Demitra tear up the opposition during the preseason.

“He’s been really good,” said Lemaire. “He’s been good for the kids and good for the team. He’s a good leader, and we’re really happy to have him.”

We couldn’t have said it better here at BWWE.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sara Renner is your new National Anthem Singer, and a candidate for having the Best Wild Week Ever.
The last housecleaning item before the big 2007 debut? Picking a National Anthem singer, of course. On Wednesday, it was announced that Sara Renner survived a two-month long battle of the vocal chords with more than 100 other hopefuls. In an American Idol-like contest, Renner of Minneapolis, reached the three-person final against Lauren Redpath and Mandy Maietta.

The final decision was put to an online vote for Wild fans, and Renner emerged as the winner. In true BWWE spirit, both Redpath and Maietta agreed to serve as backups when needed.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Finally, the season was upon us, complete with games that actually mean something, and we can once again proclaim, “This is the Best Wild Week Ever!” The quest for an 82-win season got under way, but only after a stirring pregame ceremony that mixed in hero recognition (real heroes like emergency responders and military service men and women), an on-ice photo display and a video presentation that made everybody in the building want to run barefoot to Montevideo and back.

The Wild players were in the locker room for much of this, so perhaps that’s the reason for them not looking as jacked up on the ice as the fans were in the stands. No matter. Niklas Backstrom is made of anti-freeze and soothing bath beads, and he held the Chicago Blackhawks to zero goals on 27 shots. All he needed was a goal from Pierre-Marc Bouchard to earn the victory and begin the march toward an undefeated season.
Friday, October 5, 2007

It was back to business at Friday’s practice, as Lemaire was none to pleased with his team’s less-than-dazzling Opening Night performance. The sound of Lemaire’s postgame quote of “I had my eyes fixed this week, and I want the old ones back,” translated into some hard skating.

Lemaire then told reporters that the game wasn’t as bad as he initially thought, but it was still bad. He then went onto say that there was still two days remaining to make this the Best Wild Week Ever in his life, but he said it with nonverbal cues, and I was the only one to pick up on them.
Not only do we have Travis Larson to keep the ice in tip top shape, but we have his mom on hand to keep him in line as well.
Saturday, October 6, 2007

The State of Hockey has one person that no other hockey community has: Travis Larson. Travis is in charge of the ice at the Xcel Energy Center, and while he generally doesn’t have to worry about excessive humidity during the hockey season, he’s always prepared for days like Saturday. With the mercury rising past 80, Larson had his hands full keeping the Xcel Energy Center ice from turning into a puddle. Even Wes Walz, the Wild’s ice expert, complimented Larson on the job he did in getting the rink ready for game action.

It was his pristine ice that served as the stage for an exciting come-from-behind Wild victory. The “BBR Me ASAP” line of Bouchard, Belanger and Rolston picked apart the Columbus Blue Jackets on the way to a 3-2 win. Bouchard and Belanger each notched a goal and an assist, while Rolston had three helpers. Backstrom was strong once again, earning his second win.

As we all know by now, there is no better way to celebrate an undefeated week than a party on top of a parking ramp. To celebrate a 2-0-0 week, a party, which included music from the Pop Rocks and fireworks, was held on the roof of the RiverCentre parking ramp.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Practice was cancelled on Sunday, giving most of the Wild players a day off. However, there is no such thing as a day off from Wild media relations gurus, Aaron Sickman and Ryan Stanzel. They set Brian Rolston up to appear on Rosen’s Sports Sunday, and they got not one, but two goaltenders – Backstrom and Harding – on Joe Schmitt’s Sports Wrap.

Despite the efforts of Sickman and Stanzel, it was too little, too late for Wild media relations. Instead, it was another department…

…That Had The Best Wild Week Ever?

The Wild marketing department was all smiles after having the Best Wild Week Ever. Former Twins employee Wayne Petersen is back row, far right.
Wild Marketing Department. Sure, Backstrom was brilliant, and we were able to come up with a nickname for the Bouchard – Belanger – Rolston line. But it was tough to top the efforts of the Wild Marketing Department. This is the crew, which includes former Minnesota Twins employee Wayne Petersen, which is responsible for everything that happens off the ice at Wild games.

So after concluding the Anthem singer contest, the group moved on to creating the best Opening Night ceremony in franchise history. It was highlighted by Sergeant John Kriesel, an injured soldier home from Iraq, dropping the puck to start the game. While his appearance was emotional and heartwarming, events such as Saturday’s postgame concert and fireworks, which went off despite some struggles caused by stiff winds.

Paul Loomis, who is in charge of Game Operations, even had the honor of being interviewed by yours truly. Please see it for yourself by clicking here, and pay special attention to the Emmy Award strategically placed behind Paul’s left shoulder. He’s nothing if not modest. Also, please do me a favor and mute all the parts when I’m talking. That way, I, along with the Wild Marketing Department, will be having the Best Wild Week Ever.
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