When the Minnesota Wild brought NHL hockey back to Minnesota, Ryan Carter was a student at White Bear Lake High School. While the team was on the road, he’d stay up late after his own practices and games and watch televised Wild games, kind of like a hockey study hall. While observing more pro hockey was beneficial for his game, the late-night hockey cramming might’ve had an adverse impact in the actual classroom.
“My grades in high school probably weren’t as good as they should’ve been because I stayed up late watching the West Coast games back in 2000, 2001,” Carter joked.
Yesterday, the Wild signed the White Bear Lake native to a one-year, two-way contract. Before signing with Minnesota, he was in New Jersey, in negotiations with his former team, the Devils. He got in last night around midnight and joined the team for practice today.
“When the decision was made (to sign with Minnesota) things kind of travel and work fast,” Carter said. “Yesterday was a bit of a hectic day. But I got in and the fellas welcomed me pretty well and that makes the transition that much more easy.”
Carter said it was bittersweet leaving New Jersey, a place he enjoyed and spent the past three seasons with the Devils. However, the chance to come home and play for the team he watched in high school is exciting.
“I couldn’t be happier playing anywhere else,” Carter said. “This is a place, where a guy like me, grows up wanting to play, dreaming to play, and to get a chance is something special.”
The forward hasn’t had a chance to speak with Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo about expectations and is concentrating more on learning the team’s systems than trying to figure out his role with the club.
Even though it was his first day of practice, the Wild’s bench boss liked what he saw in his ability to pick up the team’s systems play quickly. Yeo also said that he was likely to be in the opening night lineup when the Wild hosts the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
“Saw a lot of things that we’re hoping to see from him in games,” Yeo said. “Showed that he’s good defensive and positional player. I liked what he was showing on the penalty kill and once we get into game time I’m expecting him to bring some good energy, too.
Yeo plans on starting him at the wing because it can be easier to learn the team’s structure–there is more defensive responsibility for center-ice men. The 31-year-old played center with the Devils and gives Minnesota another option down the middle.
If Carter is in the lineup on Thursday—and if yesterday is any indication from the outpouring of support he received from friends and family within the State of Hockey—the local might have to turn off his cell phone before puck drop.
“I think I have to go to the Verizon store and buy a new cell phone,” Carter cracked “I think my battery melted yesterday.”
Clearly, the Lighthouse has a new teacher’s pet for go-to quotes in the Wild locker room.