Those summer lovin’ weeks were great, I’ll grant you that. But were they the Best Wild Weeks Ever? That question remains to be answered.
It is my contention that they don’t quite compare to this past week, and that could be in part to needing a break from writing this column, or it could be due to the fact that September 11 through September 17 was the most rockin’-in-the-free-world week we’ve seen in the State of Hockey.
I’ll lean towards the latter. I don’t care what you think, as long as you concur that last week was the Best Wild Week Ever.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Sometimes on this site, we talk about a heroic effort by Manny Fernandez in a 45-save performance. We might describe Marian Gaborik as a game’s hero after scoring two goals, including the game-winner.
That’s what makes a somber day like September 11 so important. We remember the true heroes from that tragic day five years ago, as well as those who have protected and served us every day since then. While we might call the players heroes, it’s probably because we lack a better term. For those who helped during 9/11, “hero” is not a big enough word to bestow upon you.
Back at Wild headquarters, the entire staff gathered at the Iron Range Grill inside Xcel Energy Center where a moment of silence was held to remember those who were loved and lost.
Following that, employees were asked to test a wide variety of new food samples that will be offered at concessions during Wild games this season. I wasn’t going to argue with this request.
They asked everybody to fill out surveys to describe our feelings about appearance, aroma and taste. I simply wrote that I would need about four or five more tests before I could give my full-fledged endorsement to our beloved State of Hockey legion. Hey! I have a responsibility to the public discourse! I’m just looking out for y’all!
As far as the Monday sporting scene went, the Wild prospects were looking for their first victory at the NHL Centre I.C.E. Prospects Tournament in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. Unfortunately, goals by Cal Clutterbuck, Peter Olvecky and the Great Dane, Morten Madsen were not enough. The Wild were dropped by the Blues to the tune of 6-3.
Never fear Minnesota sports fans, those new-look Vikings and those plucky Twins picked up victories to wash those Prospect blues away.
That leads to my first prediction of the 2006-2007 season. The Minnesota Wild will win more games than the Minnesota Vikings this year, but probably not as many as the Twins.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
It’s important to remember that most of the Minnesota Wild’s prospects are between the ages of 18 and 21. So I didn’t want to put too much pressure on these young guys by saying that they needed a seventh place finish in Traverse City to make this the Best Wild Week Ever. Perhaps I should have said something, but I didn’t, and because of that, the guys fell just short, but not for lack of effort.
Benoit Pouliot exploded for four points on two goals and two assists and his mates forged a remarkable three-goal comeback in the third period against Tampa Bay, even scoring with an extra attacker and six seconds remaining. But, the ensuing shootout loss meant no wins at the tournament, and a long flight home for Prospect guru, Tommy Thompson.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Hump day was a busy 24 hours for the Wild organization, or as our Canadian counterparts call it, organ-EYE-zation. As tradition dictates, the team hosted a preseason media brunch for President and General Manager Doug Risebrough to address the local TV, radio and print personalities.
In his speech, Risebrough expressed his excitement about the sixth, and smallest training camp in team history. It’s also going to be one of the shortest, with three fewer days and two fewer games compared to last season.
“We’re excited about watching the stage of the plan unfold,” said Risebrough. “Bob Naegele has given us the mandate to produce a winning environment and a consistent contender. We believe we’ve stuck to the plan and added players that can get us into that stage.”
Risebrough also said that team’s mentality will not change, and that means putting team goals first.
“It will be a solid, fundamental team with speed in transition,” he predicted. “It will be a very hard-working team with a team focus.”
Now, hard work and focus is well and good, but since the start of camp was still two days away, there was still time for some tomfoolery on the golf course.
| Josh Harding might swing the wrong way, but he still teamed with Rick O’Gara, Jerry Ouimet, Bob Trojan and Bill Riviere to win the Wild Corporate Golf outing. |
As part of a Wild Corporate Sponsor event, the players teamed up with various playing partners for a golf scramble at Troy Burne Golf Course in Hudson, Wisconsin. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that hockey players like to golf, and that’s pretty evident by the smiles of these guys, which are visible in this video here
Even news that filtered out about Francisco Liriano’s bum left arm was not enough to dampen spirits – except for yours truly. I sulked upon learning the news I’m ashamed to say.
Anyway, Josh Harding and his group apparently shook off the developments with the Twins and forged ahead to post a spectacular golf round of 57, good enough for first place and a year of free service to XM Radio. That was one stroke better than the favored group with scratch golfer, Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Brent Burns, always the whipping boy, was in the group that finished last. That’s OK Brent. There’s always cycling.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
| Shortly after this picture, Mark Parrish admitted that his favorite actress is Jessica Rabbit. Oh those crazy Jefferson Jaguars! |
Let’s hope Thursday is the only day that our guys make a trip to the doctor’s office this season. As per National Hockey League rules and regulations, the players went through their yearly physicals. We don’t care to ask exactly what procedures were taken care of, but we’re assuming the words “Read this line down here,” and “Turn your head and cough, please,” were uttered repeatedly. Ugh, I’m having horrible flashbacks to the day before seventh grade.
Last on the checklist for the players was to step into a room for their mug shots and to fill out a questionnaire regarding personal information for the team guide. Here’s a snippet I’ll give you, free of charge. Mark Parrish’s favorite actress is Jessica Rabbit, and no, I’m not making that up.
Friday, September 15, 2006
TGIF. Thank Goodness It’s Finally Training Camp! The highly anticipated Wild season is on the horizon thanks to the site of 42 players taking the ice at the Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis. If there was one thing to solidify this as the Best Wild Week Ever, it was the sight of Brian Rolston blasting a one-timer off a Todd White feed. If there were one thing that could have taken the BWWE title from September 11 through September 17, it would be the sight of Marian Gaborik going down after taking a puck in the upper body.
Luckily, Gaborik shook off the errant Martin Skoula shot and returned the ice. “Tis’ nothing but a flesh wound,” yelled Gaborik from the bench. OK, I made that part up, but he was totally fine.
While the Wild players were skating, Wild fans were sitting, and waiting, and reading, and sitting some more. More than 50 sets of people were already lined up for the Wild single-game ticket sale, which wouldn’t start for another 24 hours.
Some fans tossed the pigskin around, some listened to the Twins on the radio, and some chatted it up with Wild employees Jora Deziel and Anna Johnson, who refused to let fans brave the elements alone. They camped out too!
It’s that kind of dedication that makes me wonder how any other week will top this one, the Best Wild Week Ever.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
| Who said the waiting is the hardest part? Oh yeah, Tom Petty. Well Tommy, you’re wrong. These folks look pretty happy. |
By 9:00 AM Saturday, more than 700 people had lined up down Kellogg Boulevard for their crack at tickets for Opening Night, or to see Alexander Ovechkin, or to see the Wild rattle off an absurd number of wins in 2006-2007. The reasons matter not. What matters is that there is no sign of an end to the Wild’s sellout streak, and that can only be taken as positive, but then again, what would you expect in a column titled the Best Wild Week Ever?
As for the on-ice team members, they were in Minneapolis once again for day two of training camp. It was more of the same as far as practicing, scrimmaging and expressing excitement about how good this team is looking early on. The other good news? Nobody got cut, and that would dampen the Best Wild Week Ever for sure.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
The Vikings were looking to stay undefeated, and they did. The Twins were looking to make up some ground on the Detroit Tigers, and they did. The Wild was hoping someone might want to come and watch a practice, and they did. More than 800 people filled an entire side of the Xcel Energy Center’s lower bowl, although a few were spotted making their way into the concourse to check the progress on the Viking score.
That’s fine. We’ll forgive you. But if you missed Derek Boogaard’s rocket slap shot into the upper corner followed by his salute to the fans, it’s your loss. That was the highlight of the day, which ended with a shootout contest and players flipping pucks into the crowd.
That, my friends, is how you close out the week, but not until we give proper respect to the person…
…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?
| Cheers to you Pat! You are having the Best Wild Week Ever! |
Sure, he had his daughter sub in to give him a spell every now and then. And, who knows? At night, he could’ve slipped a mannequin inside his tent while playing a snoring soundtrack while he and Cameron Frye and Sloane Peterson lived it up around town. But as far as we know here at BWWE, Pat Vos spent the better part of three days waiting in line to buy tickets.
He was the big winner of the day, scoring tickets to Opening Night, and seven other worthy matchups. As Pat described it, “the wait is like Christmas. You wait and wait, and then it’s finally here!”
Well Pat, Saturday was not Christmas, but it was Independence Day in Mexico, and for you, it was the day that solidified your stance as having the Best Wild Week Ever!