How, you may ask, did we achieve yet another superlative seven days?
Well, if I must remind you, I will. There was Fan Appreciation night, a shutout for Josh Harding, a Brian Rolston appearance on Rosen’s Sports Sunday, and, well…you’re just going to have to find out for yourself. Soon, you’ll be scouring for a seat on the already crowded bandwagon while referring to April 10 through April 16, 2006 as the Best Wild Week Ever.
Monday, April 10, 2006
| Do these three know about having fun and wearing warm-colored shirts? Ah, yeah! |
A day after lighting the lamp three times in Denver, Marian Gaborik, along with Mikko Koivu
, appeared at the Boys and Girls Club outing at the RiverCentre complex in downtown St. Paul. Matt Birk of the Minnesota Vikings, Michael Cuddyer of the Minnesota Twins and several Minnesota Gopher athletes to name a few were also on hand at the event.
There was several interactive games set up throughout the complex, including a hockey shot accuracy booth, which Gabby participated in. He turned in a dismal two-for-five performance, while several grade schoolers hit all five. It’s all well and good. How many of those little kids have scored 38 goals in a single NHL season? That’s what I thought!
The food at the event had a kid’s feel, as chicken fingers and mini-corn dogs were served. Now, I’m not sure you can have a Best Wild Week Ever if mini-corn dogs aren’t involved in some way. Am I right or am I right?
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Tuesdays are usually such non-descript days. You’re only two-fifths through the work or school week, and the weekend seems like a figment of the imagination. But Tuesday, April 11, was not your average second day of the week.
The Wild brass pulled out all the stops so fans could get a head start on the weekend party scene. First off, every fan in attendance received a Year IV commemorative puck, which featured the 2004 NHL All-Star Weekend. So everybody was a winner, but some more than others.
| If you were there, you don’t need an explanation. Stephane Veilleux’s antics were pretty funny. |
There was an opening video tease
to put all other opening video teases to shame. There were prizes given away all night. One lucky fan won an XM radio just for Dutch Schnell winning an intermission goal race. There were 23 lucky fans that won sweaty jerseys off the players’ backs following the Wild’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. And one lucky fan even won a boat.
Prior to shedding his jersey amidst hoots and hollers from the women in attendance, Josh Harding earned his first NHL shutout in his second NHL game, stopping all 27 Blackhawk shots, including several during a five-minute Chicago power play in the third. That was a result of Stephane Veilleux going nuts on Radim Vrbata just 19 seconds after scoring a beautiful breakaway game-winning goal.
Anytime you see a redhead score a goal then pound a guy before waving to the crowd, you know you’re smack dab in the middle of the Best Wild Week Ever.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
One stint wasn’t enough, so the Wild brought Erik Westrum up from the Aeros one last time to finish out the regular season in a Wild sweater. Westrum’s call up was necessary after Pascal Dupuis suffered a bone bruise in his ankle in the Chicago win.
You have to finish the season with at least one Minnesotan on the roster. Mission accomplished with this call up.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Every Easter basket has a few black jelly beans in it, just like every Best Wild Week Ever has one day that probably shouldn’t make the cut.
The Wild defenders let Josh Harding out to dry in his final start of the season against the Nashville Predators. He made some spectacular saves throughout the night, but four pucks got past him, and goals by Brian Rolston and Wes Walz were not enough to compensate.
Yada, yada, yada. That’s all the rehashing we need for this day. Let’s get back to the delicious portion of the Best Wild Week Ever.
Friday, April 14, 2006
| The resemblance is uncanny between yours truly and Holly Hunter. There’s no shame in that, is there? |
Not much news filtered out of Wild camp on Friday, other than Harding getting sent back down to Houston for a few final tune-ups for the AHL playoffs. Miroslav Kopriva was recalled to back up Manny Fernandez in the season finale at Dallas.
Around these parts, it was a gorgeous April day, and since the Wild was eliminated from postseason contention, you should have been allowed to ditch out of work early to enjoy it. If you weren’t allowed, hopefully you spent some time on www.myheritage.com to find out what celebrity you look like. That’s what I did, and just as I had hoped, my closest match was Holly Hunter.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Saturday’s game was in essence, academic. The Wild wasn’t going to get into the playoffs with a win, unless a couple Western Conference teams were put on probation for academic violations. Nonetheless, the Wild turned in one of its better performances of the season, especially in the third period.
Trailing 3-1 going into the final stanza, Minnesota rallied behind goals 11 seconds apart from Mattias Weinhandl and Gaborik. Despite numerous breakaway chances throughout the game by Gabby, Walz and Rolston, the Wild couldn’t pick up a fourth against Johan Hedberg, and a pointless point was earned after Trevor Daley ended the game with an overtime game-winner with just 36 seconds to play.
Certainly, that’s not how we want to finish the season, or the Best Wild Week Ever. I just hope we can get Brian Rolston on a local television station on Sunday to make up for it.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
We won’t get to watch Brian Rolston unleash his patented howitzer for awhile (unless you throw a crushed soda can in his Stillwater driveway, which he will instinctively slap shot right into the back window of your car as it speeds away), but he’s not far from our hearts, or our talking picture boxes.
To close out Easter Sunday, and the Best Wild Week Ever, the best free agent signing of 2004 appeared on Mark Rosen’s Sports Sunday on WCCO (television, not radio).
Rolston had a mountain of a task in front of him, having to follow the Michael Cuddyer magic card show, but he more than held up his end of the entertainment bargain, and I think it had something to do with the perfect part in his hair.
The Flint, Michigan native rehashed his glorious year in Minnesota, while talking about the future of the organization, and how the supposed Gaborik/Lemaire feud is just a bunch of media hub-bub.
Speaking of hub-bub, let’s finally put an end to all the clamoring about…
…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?
18,568 people at the Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday, April 11. Even as nothing was happening through the first two periods of the Wild’s game against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks, there was a feeling that something special was going to take place.
| Show your jerseys and get outta there people! Before equipment manager Tony Dacosta chases you down and takes back those nice sweaters. |
All it took was a surreal chain of events involving Stephane Veilleux (see Tuesday night above) to set in motion a cloud of warm fuzzies overcoming everybody in the arena. Soon after, there was Pierre-Marc Bouchard putting home an empty-netter, followed by Harding bear-hugging Brent Burns as the buzzer sounded. Players began tossing pucks, sticks and everything else they could find into the crowd. Players smiled for pictures with fans as they handed over their jerseys.
It served as a reminder of just how likeable these players are, and just how lovable Wild fans are. On behalf of the Wild, thanks to all of you for the support this year and beyond. We will anxiously await our next meeting, which will undoubtedly take place during the Best Wild Year Ever!