Casey Wellman is one of the few players in Minnesota Wild to join the team as a free agent right out of college. Having just completed his sophomore campaign at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Wellman signed a free agent deal with Minnesota and was here the remainder of the season. Wellman started this season as a member of the Houston Aeros, but he was quickly recalled and the speedy forward has been playing big minutes ever since.
Wellman is the sixth Minnesota Wild player to answer fan emails this season, and he's the new record holder for receiving the most questions. Granted, a lot of those were questions from some ladies looking to score a date, and they'll be sad to know that Casey has a girlfriend.
But he got plenty more questions that he was happy to talk about, including the decision to turn pro, the influence of his professional baseball playing father and why teammates are calling him "Shane Falco."Connor, Cologne
Did you feel ready to play in the NHL coming out of college? Do you believe college hockey is a valid stepping stone to transition to the pro level?
Yeah, I think college hockey is definitely a valid stepping stone. There was a lot of excitement last year, and it kind of helped me jump into it. There's obviously some things I need to learn and things I need to develop, but I felt pretty ready to play here.
Do you have any regrets about not finishing college?
No. This was an opportunity that I had been dreaming about since I was about three years old. You can always go back to school and I plan on doing that, but I had to take this opportunity.
I went back after the season last year and finished up my sophomore year. I took all my finals and passed all my classes.
What is the biggest change when going from college hockey to pro hockey?
The pace is higher, and the guys are obviously a lot bigger and stronger. Things are done a lot quicker. Through experience, you learn that and you try to adapt to it.
Bree, Atlanta, GA
What's been the hardest adjustment off the ice from college to the NHL?
I think off the ice, you've just got to stay mentally tough and ready to go. There's times when you leave the rink, you've got to shut it down. But when you get here, you've got to be mentally prepared every day.
Chris, Eden Prairie
What's the greatest perk of the NHL over the AHL?
I think everyone will tell you that the travel is a lot better in the NHL. That's the main thing. When I was down there, we had an eight hour bus ride and played a game. Then we took the bus back and played a game the next night. Here, we take a nice plane.
Being an undrafted player who received multiple offers, what made you decide on the Wild?
Really it was just talking with (General Manager) Chuck Fletcher. I was told that he's a real straight shooter. The things he told me, I liked. He told me I was going to get some opportunity here, and they really wanted me. I think that was the main thing.
Bryan, South St. Paul
Being from California, is it weird to see snow on the ground in November?
You know, it's not weird for me right now. I went to high school in Michigan and played juniors in Iowa and played college hockey in Massachusetts. But do I like it? No (laughs).
Is there anyone on the team that you see as a mentor?
There's a lot of great guys that are great guys and good role models. But I think Matt Cullen
is a great mentor. He works hard every day. He's a good guy and I think he has things pretty balanced in his life.
Michal, Surany, Slovakia
Who was your sports idol?
My dad, who played Major League baseball. I was pretty young. I think he stopped playing when I was four. But all throughout my life, he's been able to take his experience and help me with mine.
Got any nicknames?
(laughs) Lately people have been calling me Shane Falco, from the movie, The Replacements. They think I look like Keanu Reeves.
Kate, Yorktown Heights, NY
What do you miss most about UMass?
It's always fun to play for your school. But I miss the people there. I had a lot of great friends there, and my girlfriend is there too, actually.
Kailey, White Bear Lake
What do you like most about Minnesota?
I haven't really gotten the chance to get out much, but the people are great here. There's great fans, and from where I've been, everyone's been really nice.
Is there any one NHL player that you have been the most excited to play against?
Well, I went to high school in Michigan, so playing the Red Wings, they're just a great team all around. And then, to play against Alexander Ovechkin was pretty cool.
Josh, Apple Valley
What things do you like to do after a practice or a game, like play video games or do your taxes?
(laughs) What? I haven't done my taxes quite yet. Right now, I'm in the hotel so there's not much I can do. But yeah, I like to play video games, and I've actually been wanting to play the piano. Eventually, I'm going to start doing that but I haven't had the opportunity to put a grand piano in the hotel room.
Bri, North St. Paul
What's it like being awesome? Because you're awesome.
(laughs, and gets red-faced) Well, it's pretty great. I don't know what to say that one, really. Thank you, Bri!
Kristina, Brentwood, CA
Who do you think would win a fight between a taco and a grilled cheese sandwich?
In a fair fight, I've got to take the grilled cheese.
What do you want for Christmas the most? And you can't say anything about wishing your family was here or a home cooked meal.
I've been wanting an iPad, so I might need to get one of those.
What was the last concert you went to?
The last concert I went to was Lady Gaga. It was...interesting. But it was a good show.
Ben, St. Paul
If you were a superhero, what would your power be?
I've never thought about that. I've always wanted to fly.
Describe a perfect date.
(laughs) Um, I like to do a lot of action packed things. I think it'd be pretty fun to go Go-Karting or something like that, and then have a nice dinner and maybe a movie. But it'd have to be with my girlfriend.