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Leaner Heard Round The Hotel

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

During a long hockey season, living in hotel rooms on the road can become monotonous. Occasionally to spice things up, players pull pranks on unsuspecting teammates.

The leaner is one of the most infamous hockey pranks on the road. The gag is to fill an ice bucket up with water, lean it up against an unsuspicious teammate’s hotel room door at an angle, knock and run down the hallway. When the player opens the door, a small amount of water dumps from the bucket into his entryway and the pranksters laugh at the inevitable swear words that follow.

The following story is of a few bored junior players and one overanxious leaner. Don’t try this at home, kids.

I was playing for Sioux Falls Stampede with Thomas Vanek and the team was in Dubuque about to skate against the Fighting Saints. Now, if you’ve ever been to the town, there’s not a whole lot to do for a group of under-21-year-olds.

Vanek, Jamie Mattie, Jon Dubel and I were sitting around bored watching television just waiting for the bus to take us to the game. I’m not sure who came up with the idea, but we decided to pull a leaner on a group of teammates, who were playing cards in a room down the hallway.

However, rather than using the typical ice bucket or a small trash receptacle from the room, we decided to go big. We grabbed the garbage can from the elevator area and pulled out the black hefty bag full of waste to fill with water. Now, the hallway container was far too large to fit under the sink, like a standard-sized leaner, and we had to fill the can in the shower.

And it took a while.

As the bin filled up, we laughed about how clever we were, how many towels they’d have to use to sop up the water and how long it would take them to clean up.

We turned off the showerhead after filling more than three-quarters of the container with at least 25 gallons of water (and this is probably a conservative estimate). It took three of us just to lift the garbage can out of the bathtub.

We giddily dragged the receptacle down the hallway, sloshing water on our team tracksuits along the way. After gently placing the can against the door, we knocked and ran back to our room. We waited, peering out of the cracked door stacked up, a totem pole of eager pimple faced hoodlums.

When the door opened, we could see the bin begin to tip into the doorway. As it fell, it gained speed, raking the door and landing with a loud boom, like a fat kid doing a cannon ball off the high dive. It was followed by a riptide splash of water thrashing carpet and then a disgusted, “What the…”

We slammed the door and fell over laughing about pulling off a caper with none the wiser of the crime.

We were still high on the prank as we loaded ourselves onto the bus trying not to look too conspicuous. Surprisingly, none of the card players were talking about having to clean up the mess or the greatest leaner ever.

After a seemingly extended wait, our coach, Bob Motzko, came onto the bus in a huff.

“Alright,” he said. “Who did it?”

Silence.

He didn’t have the same look of bemusement that we just had. In fact, he looked more disgruntled than if our team had just lost a game.

“Who did the leaner?”

Being the elder statesman of the group, I looked at my co-conspirators and raised my hand.

“I did it coach.”

Not a second later, Mattie, who was on the way to setting the single-season USHL record for assists by a defenseman which still stands today, raised his hand.

“Me too coach.”

After that, Dubel, a Minnesota State Mankato recruit, raised his hand and added, “I helped.”

Then, Vanek, who was still just a high school teenager at the time but arguably the best player in the league, let out a giggle. With an Austrian accent, that wasn’t nearly as polished as you hear today, chimed in.

“Me too coach.”

Motzko stood there for a moment. Then, I swear, he started to grin and before it turned into a full-out chuckle, blurted out, “Well what did you think was going to happen?! We’re on the third floor and the water dripped down to the first floor. There’s going to be a lot of damages. You guys better play one heck of a game tonight.”

Then he turned around and told the bus driver to leave for the arena. Now, I don’t recall the final score, but it was a lopsided victory in our favor.

The next time we were on the road and it might have even been later that week, we filled a Dixie cup with water and put it in front of Motzko’s door. After that, we decided not to test the waters with Motzko and was never mentioned again. But story was whispered with hushed reverence when the staff wasn’t within earshot of the conversation between players.

April Fools

The House gave you this little story because it’s April Fools. Did it really happen? Could it be the House playing tricks? Guess you’ll never know. After practice today, WildTV spoke to a few of the guys about hockey pranks and their plans to celebrate the day. We confirmed that Vanek still is a prankster (hopefully we didn’t influence that too much) and that no one has messed with Chris Stewart yet. I think I know why.

Prosser Practices

Defenseman Nate Prosser told WildTV that he’s typically the target of practical jokes because he’s gullible. Well, he’s also one tough cookie. The defenseman returned to practice today after suffering a lower-body injury on March 14. Initially, it was thought that he could miss up to a month, but after the injury Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he believed it might be less time with the gritty blueliner.

The 28-year-old missed seven games, but has been skating and said he felt really good in practice.

“Whenever I’m needed, I’ll be ready,” Prosser said. “I haven’t talked to coach or anything about that, how many practices that he wants me in. So I’m ready when needed.”

Yeo said they haven’t determined a timetable for a return, but had a good chuckle when the media informed the bench boss that Prosser said he’s stayed in shape with the injury. However, Yeo did then praise the blueliner’s conditioning.

“He has been doing a lot of skating,” Yeo said. “He was in good shape going into the injury and he’s been working hard while he’s been out.”

Dubnyk Honored, Again

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk continues to add bullet points on his Wild resume. After being named the NHL’s First Star of the Week on Monday, the netminder was named the League’s Third Star of the month of March today.

Dubnyk went 11-3-0 starting all 14 games for Minnesota in March including a 6-0-0 record with a 1.15 GAA and a .966 SV% in six road starts (stopped 199 of 206 shots faced). He led NHL goalies during the month with 11 wins and ranked third in GAA and SV%. Allowing two goals or less in 11 of his 14 starts.

He becomes the only Wild player to be part of the NHL’s Monthly Three Stars twice in a season/career. He was also named the NHL First Star for February, NHL First Star of the Week (2/9 and 3/29), NHL Third Star of the week (2/2).

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