HUDSON, Wis. — Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk
blocks pucks for a living. Dodging golf balls? That’s a different story.
But that’s what Dubnyk was doing on the tee box at one hole on Thursday as members of his team razzed him while handling media responsibilities during a quick break from the club’s annual corporate golf outing at Troy Burne Golf Club.
Moments before, with Charlie Coyle standing in front of the cameras, it was Dubnyk who lofted golf balls towards the Wild forward in an effort to distract the winger.
Coyle didn’t bite.
Dubnyk didn’t have the same self control, however.
“I’m not as good at pretending it’s not happening,” Dubnyk said.
The event allowed sponsors to play a round of golf with several Wild players and coaches and see them in a different setting other than a hockey arena. While many of the same sponsors will be at Xcel Energy Center once the season begins, cheering for players on the ice, it’s not uncommon for those same players to be dishing out the praise after a big drive or a clutch putt.
It’s also a place for players like Kurtis Gabriel, who doesn’t play much golf, to get out and around the course without the pressures of trying to shoot a low score. It was a scramble format, after all.
“First time actually enjoying golfing,” Gabriel said. “I’ve been on the course a few times for charity events, but I’m usually worried about looking bad. But these guys are making it a lot of fun.”
Coyle and the team from SuperAmerica played in the group behind Gabriel, but Coyle said he wasn’t one to offer much advice to his teammate.
“I don’t want to talk too much trash because I’m not too good of a golfer either,” Coyle said. “It’s just funny to see the guys; you never really know who’s good, who’s not or who can hit the ball. Kurtis is trying. He’s had a few good whacks at it.”
One guy who is good is forward Jordan Schroeder, who spends a fair amount of his offseason at the golf course. With Erik Haula away at the World Cup, the debate was on as to who was the best golfer on the team.
Some said Schroeder while others indicated Haula’s competitiveness on the links sets him apart.
“If you asked [Haula], it would probably be him,” said forward Jason Pominville. “But I would probably also pick him as my partner. I think he’s probably the best golfer on the team.”
Regardless of who may be the best golfer, the event was played on one of the area’s premier golf courses. Troy Burne, a Tom Lehman-designed course that opened in 1999, was in magnificent condition, as noted by nearly every participant that took part.
That includes Dubnyk, who has played his share of golf on some of the best courses in the world.
“I was talking to my brother when I first drove into the course and instantly started talking about how it looks,” Dubnyk said. “It looks immaculate. It’s challenging, a lot of tough putts out here, but that’s what makes it fun.”
No matter the skill level or experience, the outing allowed players to show a different side of their athletic talents. With the sun shining and temperatures in the mid-60s, it certainly beat a typical Tuesday in the office, whether that office is in a corporate setting or at the hockey rink.
“Take a little bit of a break from the intense training and stuff, that’s fun,” Gabriel said. “Get out for a day and have some fun, that’s good.”