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Photo Day

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild
Today is Photo Day at the Minnesota Wild's practice at the Xcel Energy Center. It appears that most players are still downtrodden about last night's disappointing 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, because most were going with the "tough guy" pose during the team photo and not showing any teeth. Of course, you couldn't wipe the smiles off the faces of Wild PR lackeys Ryan Stanzel and Aaron Sickman, who got to be a part of their first-ever team photo.

Probably the funniest part of today as that this team photo shoot was scheduled long ago, so the schedulers probably weren't thinking that half the team would be sporting mustaches in support of Movember. While we all know what's going on, it will be interesting to see the reactions of people who see the photo 20 years from now (mental note: make sure I'm here in 20 years so I can observe people looking at the photo).

Every Wild player was in the photo, including Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who skated slowly for a bit, but he definitely was not out there in an effort to start his comeback. Eric Belanger was also in the photo, but he did not participate in practice. Head Coach Todd Richards did not have an update on his status, but said there are no plans as of now to call a player up from Houston.

Kim Johnsson did skate with the team for the first time today, but was wearing the light green jersey, meaning, "do not hit me." It sounds as though he'll be ready to go sometime during Minnesota's upcoming road trip out East.

After the photo, it was back to work. Todd Richards was extremely vocal before, during and after team drills today. He was at times harsh, and at times encouraging.

During Richards' media scrum, a lot of the talk centered around Benoit Pouliot and James Sheppard and how they need to gain confidence in themselves. Richards told a story about his days as an assistant coach in Milwaukee under Claude Noel, and I'll paraphrase his story.

Noel asked a player how someone gains confidence, and neither the player, nor Richards knew the answer. The answer was, "you invest in yourself." Richards explained it this way:

If you play golf, let's say you take out your driver and hit a bad shot off the first tee. Then, you take out the driver on the second hole and hit a bad drive of the tee. Then, you do the same thing on the third hole. When you get to the fourth tee and you grab your driver, how confident are you in hitting it?

So, what do you do? You go to the driving range and you hit 100 drives. You invest in yourself. The next time you're on the tee, you'll remember how you hit good drives at the range.

That's what I want to see from my players, that they invest in themselves and get better at all aspects. So when you take a draw against a good centerman, you're confident because you took 100 in practice and you know you're going to win this one.

So, there's your Friday lesson, folks. Invest in yourselves, and help the Wild to a win tomorrow night.

Tomorrow is a key game, heading into a four-game road trip. It could be an emotional night for some Minnesota hockey fans who can watch Mike Modano play for the Dallas Stars. Modano has missed the majority of the season due to injury, but he was just recently activated from injured reserve.

How many more times will we see Modano skate in Minnesota? There is speculation that this could be the last season for one of the greatest American-born hockey players of all time.

To purchase tickets for the game, click here.

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