The oldest player on the Minnesota Wild's current roster is Marek Zidlicky, at the ripe old age of 34. That's a far cry from the previous old-timers on the Wild's roster in the previous three seasons that consisted of Andrew Brunette, John Madden and Owen Nolan, all of whom are at or pushing 40.
But the old-timers stole the storylines from the youngsters during the team's bonding trip to beautiful Duluth, Minnesota over the past two days.
On Monday, Houston Aeros General Manager and former minor league goaltending/mullet superstar, Jim Mill, manned the crease at one end of AMSOIL Arena. Mill, who is 43, was summoned after Josh Harding
injured his ankle during a teamwork exercise on Sunday afternoon.
Despite looking like the Michelin Man in Niklas Backstrom
's backup equipment and Harding's mask, and not taking part in a conditioning drill because he "might die," Mill held his own, meaning he didn't lose any limbs.
The first thing he said after coming off the rink as sweat was shooting off of him was, "that was so much fun!" It's assumed that he was not being sarcastic.
But if Mill is considered an old-timer, he's got nothing on 90-year-old Mark Sertich, believed to be the oldest registered hockey player in the United States. Sertich played one of his four weekly games in the morning, then made his way to AMSOIL where he went on the ice at the end of the Wild practice.
Brad Staubitz, Guillaume Latendresse
and Marco Scandella
all took part in some drills with him. And 21-year-old goaltender Matt Hackett
learned you can't sleep on a 90-year-old guy on a breakaway. He'll get you.
Look for a Wild TV feature on Sertich to air later this season, featuring some input from several Wild players.
Away from the rink, the team was plenty busy as well. In fact, some players and coaches mentioned that an extra day in Duluth "to do nothing" would have been nice.
Immediately after practice on Monday, the entire team played golf at Northland Country Club, with the team of Devin Setoguchi
, Eric Nystrom, Colton Gillies and Harding apparently taking top honors in the scramble.
Wild goaltending coach and former UMD Bulldog Bob Mason was expected to be the best golfer, but supposedly it was PR guru Aaron Sickman that carried the team (this according to Sickman).
Golf was followed by a four-course meal, as well as some sitting and talking around the bonfire at the resort. If you're looking for team building, there's no better place to do it than around a bonfire. That's just a fact.
Missing out on most of the fun was Hackett, who flew into Duluth on Monday night at arrived at the team's resort just after 10:00 p.m. Hackett was recalled should Harding miss any time with the ankle injury, and more news is expected on that after Harding visits the doctor on Wednesday morning.
When asked if he accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish on this trip, Yeo said he wouldn't have changed a thing, and that he'd consider making the same trip next year. He was also asked if he would have any input in getting a preseason game hosted at AMSOIL. While he didn't want to comment on that, he did say he "wouldn't be opposed to it."
Following a lunch at AMSOIL, the team headed back to the Twin Cities today. They'll resume regular skating at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday. The regular season is now four days away.