Two Wild players had exciting summers, albeit for very different reasons. Both experienced life-changing events, which also signified where they are in their respective lifetimes.
Wild Captain Mikko Koivu, 31, got married back in his native Finland. Meanwhile, Nino Niederreiter, 22, was put on the cover of EA SPORTS’ NHL 15 in his native Switzerland.
“It was a fun time for myself and my family and friends,” Koivu said. “There was a lot of planning…the first half of the summer was a little busier.”
Koivu said that there are a few differences in a Finnish wedding, but things are pretty much the same as here: church and reception afterwards. After the wedding bliss, it was back to work.
“After (the wedding) it was the usual,” Koivu said.
The usual consists of the typical hockey player’s offseason regiment of working out, conditioning and on-ice skill work. Of course, Koivu’s home life this offseason was a little different, he and his wife, Helena, had a baby girl last year during season. With his new family in tow, he’s ready to start Wild training camp and the 2014-15 regular season.
“The last week or two, it’s a lot of waiting, and mentally you’d like to get there already,” Koivu said. “We’re excited and can’t wait to get it going.”
For Niederreiter, he exchanged wedding photos for another kind of glamour shot, as the cover boy on the Swiss release of NHL 15.
“It was a great honor,” Niederreiter said. “Mark Streit was on the cover and then Roman Josi and now I’m fortunate enough to be on the cover.
“It’s a cool thing.”
Niederreiter said he’s played the game a few times, but he’s not a video-game fanatic. He prefers to spend his time outdoors, and coming from the Swiss Alps (yes, the Lighthouse has seen The Sound of Music), who can blame him?
Clearly, the video game cover was a thrill for him, but the bigger event came with re-signing with Minnesota. On Sept. 11, the Wild and Niederreiter came to terms on a three-year contract.
“It was a long summer with a lot of thinking and going back and forth, but at the end of the day I’m very happy the deal got done and I’m happy to be here,” Niederreiter said.
After showing significant signs of potential during the regular season and a breakout playoff performance, including the series-clinching goal in Game 7 in the first round against the Colorado Avalanche, Niederreiter wants to build on his first year in the State of Hockey.
“I’m still very young and I still have to learn a lot about League and about the team,” Niederreiter said. “So I’m (going into camp) to make a new impression and play my best hockey.
“I feel like every year, the longer you play in the League, the more you have to improve yourself. This year is very important for me. I feel like I had a good season last year, but this year I want to make it a great season.”