I’m not going back that far in this allotted space, but I am going to take you back one week in an effort to convince you that last week was the Best Wild Week Ever. And you can get out of here with your “1-3-0” record, because, as always, statistics are meaningless.
In a week that featured another monthly award for a Wild prospect, a new contract for a stud goaltender and a 400th career coaching victory for Jacques Lemaire, you can rest assured knowing that it was indeed the Best Wild Week Ever.
Before we get to the reasoning and evidence, let’s send a few shout outs to some who were not recognized last week, which was not the Best Wild Week Ever, only because there were no Wild games.
Big ups to gold medalist Daniel Tjarnqvist, silver medalist Mikko Koivu, bronze medalist Filip Kuba, and qualifiers Marian Gaborik and Brian Rolston. All did their countries proud at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and they steered clear of Bode Miller, which is very promising.
We also need to recognize South St. Paul High School and Eden Prairie High School, the Class A and AA winners of the Girls State Hockey Tournament, which was held at the Xcel Energy Center last week for the first time ever.
Finally, congratulations to Allie Thunstrom of North St. Paul high school. She was named Minnesota’s Ms. Hockey last Sunday.
Monday, February 27, 2006
The day after Sweden’s triumphant gold medal victory, only two Wild players were still at large. Silver medalist Mikko Koivu and Gold medalist Daniel Tjarnqvist traveled with their countrymen to their respective homelands to celebrate with the common folk.
| Wild players found out first hand what the Gustavus Gusties had to go up against for four long years when Ian Andersen manned the crease in practice. |
In Helsinki, Finland, 4,000 people showed up in subzero temperatures to celebrate the second place finish.
“Just imagine how many there would be if we won,” Koivu said to the Star Tribune. It just goes to show that Minnesotans aren’t the only tough cookies on this planet…but still the toughest.
There was one other straggler missing from Monday’s practice in Denver. Dwayne Roloson was losing a bout with some disagreeable raw fish, so he stayed back in the hotel and became very good friends with the porcelain chair in the bathroom. That meant Ian Andersen, the Wild’s video coordinator, would get the call up to strap on the pads for Monday’s practice.
Andersen tended goal for St. John’s of Collegeville, Minnesota back in the day, so he was like a fish in water. Of course, he wasn’t the first fill-in this season. Who can forget Jim Sardelli, the youngster in Detroit, who got his first taste of NHL action in a January Wild practice at Joe Louis Arena?
The jury is still out on who the best call up was between Andersen and Sardelli, but Willie Mitchell left no doubt as to how he felt.
“(Andersen) was better than Manny out there.”
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The Wild returned to the ice on Tuesday, at least in body, but not so much in spirit. Minnesota once again played the role of the mole, while Colorado was the whacking hammer.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard got the Wild on the board first with a pair of pretty moves around some Avs defenders and blasting a shot past David Aebischer. There wasn’t much to talk about after that, except Daniel Tjarnqvist’s interview during the OLN broadcast of the game, when we got our first look at his new golden bling. Whoops, I forgot that the term, “bling” is no longer hip. Please strike that from the record.
Anyway, the Wild lose to the Avalanche, 4-2, and if we want to have the Best Wild Week Ever, it’s best to just move on from this one with the intention of never speaking of it again.
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
The big Wild newsmaker on Wednesday wasn’t actually a Wild player, but a future Wild player. For the second consecutive month, Patrick O’Sullivan was named the RBK Hockey/AHL Rookie of the Month.
In 10 February games, the young sniper racked up nine goals and seven assists. He is the first player ever to earn the award in consecutive months, and the first player since Brendan Morrison to be so named twice in the same season. O’Sullivan will have to appear on a Wild PONDcast to talk about just how great he is.
Oh, that reminds me. Wednesday also brought the second Wild PONDcast show featuring Kevin Falness and exclusive guests, which included gold medalist Daniel Tjarnqvist.
That’s all well and good, but isn’t time to recognize how clever the name “Wild PONDcasting” is? Whoever thought that one up deserves a substantial raise in this humble writer’s opinion.
Thursday, March 2, 2006
| Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss and this feline friend. |
Thursday was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and I would summarize the Wild’s 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings with some tongue twisters, but I’m trying my best to keep this column PG-rated.
It’s not that the Wild played poorly against the Kings. It’s just that when Marian Gaborik completely dominates a game offensively and scores twice, and the team still loses on a tipped goal off Randy Robitaille’s stick…well, you tend to resort to language only used in recess.
The loss was a severe blow to the Wild’s playoff hopes, considering the Kings may be the team Minnesota has the best shot at catching. However, we’ll wipe our brow and forge ahead, even more determined to make this the Best Wild Week Ever.
Friday, March 3, 2006
Minnesota Wild president and general manager Doug Risebrough knew he needed to shake things up to turn this week around, so he did what any self-respecting GM would do. He solidified the Wild’s goaltender position for the next three years by inking Manny Fernandez to a contract extension.
What that means for fan-favorite and All-World public appearance team member, Dwayne Roloson…only time will tell. But “Roli” did get the start in Friday night’s game against the Ducks in Anaheim. He played another solid game, but that wasn’t enough, and neither was Gaborik’s highlight reel goal in the third period that tied the game at 2-2. Yet another deflection off a Wild stick in the third period cost Minnesota the game, and a pointless road trip was finally over.
I’ll be honest. If the Wild don’t get a win on Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche at the Xcel Energy Center, this will probably not be the Best Wild Week Ever. Just wanted to forewarn you so you’re not disappointed.
Saturday, March 4, 2006
| If you had to wear these jerseys, you’d be off your game too. |
The news out of Wild camp on Saturday was the addition and subtraction to the roster. The Wild claimed Mattias Weinhandl
(pronounced vine-handle) off waivers from the New York Islanders.
Weinhandl is regarded as a skilled offensive player who just needs a change of scenery. I don’t blame him. If I had to wear those orange third jerseys the Islanders wear, I would want out as well.
The arrival of Weinhandl meant the departure of Alexandre Daigle, who was placed on waivers by the club. Daigle couldn’t quite rekindle the magic he produced in 2003-2004, when he led Minnesota with 20 goals. He will be missed, but you never have to worry about LL Cool Daigle. He’s got it going on. He’ll get his game together somewhere.
Sunday, March 5, 2006
Sunday was crunch time. We lost three games this week, and we had our biggest nemesis in the building on Sunday. A fifth straight defeat just would not suffice in making this the Best Wild Week Ever.
Fortunately, Wes Walz would not let that happen, although his turnover while killing a 5-on-3 led to the Avs’ first goal, and made a fourth loss on the week look very possible. Then Walz atoned for his miscue decided to end the nonsense by scoring twice in the first period, assisting on Gaborik’s game-winner in the third, and then owning up to his mistake after the game.
Can you ever say anything bad about Wes? Certainly not during the Best Wild Week Ever, which, by the way, last week was. Believe it or not!
But we aren’t done just yet you hockey hooligans. We have one more order of business, which is to figure out…
…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?
Jacques Lemaire. It was a rough week to start off with for the Wild’s head coach. His team looked disoriented and sluggish in the first game. It was then the victim of some bad luck, bad calls and bad juju in two more losses in California.
| Welcome to the 400 Club Monsieur Lemaire. You are having the Best Wild Week Ever. |
But with the win on Sunday, Lemaire had the elusive career coaching victory number 400 under his belt. He became the 19th NHL head coach to accomplish the feat.
“What 400?” asked an obviously exuberant Lemaire after the game. “Never really thought about it. I like to win games and play well.”
Oh Jacques. Your cool demeanor and smooth French-Canadian accent do not fool us. We know you were popping the champagne bottles, puffing out your chest and screaming, “WHO DA MAHN?” as you lit off fireworks in your back yard.
Hey! You deserve it! After all, you’re having the Best Wild Week Ever.