Minnesota Wild players are starting to filter back to Xcel Energy Center as they prepare for a much-anticipated 2010-2011 season. This is a good time for them to reconnect with the fans, and what better way than to answer questions sent directly from the greatest hockey fans in the world?
Nobody has played more games in a Wild sweater than Schultz, but that doesn't mean there still isn't a lot we don't know about him. Did you know he's a Twins season ticket holder? Do you know who his least favorite Wild roommate was? And did you know that he would love to lay out Alexandre Burrows? Okay, you probably did know that.
If you could get a "perfect check" on any player in the NHL, who would it be and why?
Hmm. Probably (Alexandre) Burrows from Vancouver (laughs
). Just a guy like that who is a pest, you'd like to lay a good, clean hit on him.
Are there any specific players that you like matching up against, such as an individual rivalry or an old buddy; any guys who make your intensity and compete level that much higher cause you really want to beat them?
Definitely facing ex-teammates like Willie Mitchell who you are friends with. It's fun to compete against those guys and try to beat them. I guess you kind of come to hate guys on team like Vancouver with (Ryan) Kesler and Burrows. They just have pests on that team that are fun to beat. When you play against them, you just want to beat them. They've got that arrogant feel to them. Ron, Shakopee
What is the best advice you were ever given by a coach or fellow player? Did you take that advice?
I don't know. As a kid, I was just told to go out and play and have fun. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small town so there wasn't that pressure of making a team that some kids have now when they're 10, 11 or 12 years old. Ultimately, it's just a game and you need to go out there and enjoy it. If you don't have fun playing, it's probably not for you.Charles, Mankato
Do you have a favorite player that you were defensively paired with?
Over the last few years, I played with Kim Johnsson quite a bit but not as much last year. I enjoyed playing with him. He was a good player and helped me out a lot the last few years.Aric, Corcoran
Who do you feel you will most likely be paired with this upcoming season?
I'm not sure. I think once training camp gets started we'll get a good idea of who we'll be paired with. But we've got some good depth on D, and four or five young guys who are close to playing as well. So there are lots of guys that fill spots, but it will be up to the coaches as to who plays with who.Stephan, Varennes, Quebec
During all these years with the team, who was your best and worst roommate during your travels?
I'm with Mikko right now, and that's been good because we're kind of on the same schedule and the same program. He's probably been the best.
I had Willie Mitchell when I was a rookie so that was fun. I was close with friends with him and he helped me out a lot back then.
I think the worst was one trip to Denver I had to room with Brent Burns. He brought his guitar and was trying to learn how to play and sing at the same time (laughs
). I was thinking, "Is this guy serious?" He was driving me nuts. Ken, North Branch
Was Wes Walz really faster than Marian Gaborik back in the day?
Probably once he got going, yeah, he beat him a couple times in the Skills Competition here. He was that fast. I think Wes' biggest problem was trying to figure out his skates (laughs
But from a standstill, Marian was probably quicker with those first three steps. Jackson, Richfield
What are your personal and team goals this season?
Well the team goal is always to make the playoffs, and that's something we haven't done the last couple years. You can see with Philly last year that once you make the playoffs, anything can happen. That's the ultimate goal is to get back to being consistently in the playoffs.
Personally, I just want to do as much for my team as I can to ensure that we make the playoffs.Matthew, Woodbury
How do you feel about playing with new guys like Matt Cullen?
I think it will be good. The biggest thing Cullen and (John) Madden bring is they are two guys that have won Stanley Cups. You bring that into your locker room, it can only help. With the younger guys that we have, that can help a lot.
With Nystrom and Staubitz, you get some guys that add some size and some grit up front. It's good. We've got the same kind of nucleus that we had last year and the guys we added will make us a lot stronger.Joshua, White Bear LakeWhen it comes to the offseason, do you put a specific emphasis on parts of your game you want to improve? Besides general areas like "speed" and "strength", do you work on things like scoring more goals, or blocking more shots?
In the summer, blocking shots is something you try and stay away from (laughs
). In the summer, the skates aren't really that physical until training camp gets closer and you start to ramp that up a little bit. But yeah, it's working on skills like handling the puck, shooting and passing. And as a defensemen, I'm always working on my shot trying to figure out ways to get the puck to the net from all areas. Chris, St. Cloud
What have you been doing to prepare for this season and who have you been skating with? Any Wild teammates?
I was in Calgary in the offseason for three months so I was skating there with some Flames players and prospects. Some other NHL guys were there like Braydon Coburn from Philly, and Craig Weller, who used to play here.
Since I've been back here, there are more guys trickling into town. Octagon Sports Agency has a camp or whatever and there a lot of Minnesota guys like Dustin Byfuglien who are there. There's lots of college kids and AHL guys there too, so there's a lot of competition.
Allison, Des Moines, IowaWhat was the most fun thing you did this summer?
We didn't do a lot. With kids and stuff we kind of stayed at our home base in Calgary. We had a chance to go back to my hometown for my grandpa's 90th birthday and had all the cousins, aunts and brothers coming back. It's rare that you get everybody together at one time so that was a fun weekend and a fun getaway for us. Jacob, East Moline, Illinois
What was your favorite team growing up?
The Edmonton Oilers. Growing up, everyone seemed to cheer for Edmonton rather than Calgary. Obviously the Oilers were a lot better than the Flames at the time. But in Western Canada, we cheered for the Oilers because they had such good teams through the eighties and early nineties.Jory, Calgary, Alberta
What's your favorite building to play in other than Xcel Energy Center?
Montreal is a lot of fun. With the history and the fans, it's kind of a European feel. The fans are whistling and things like that. It's just a completely different atmosphere than you see in a lot of rinks. There's a lot of booing, and it's a neat experience to play there, and I would think being a fan there would be a neat experience too. It's a neat building. Max, Edina
What's your prediction for the Twins? How far will they go?Editor's Note: Schultz is a big Twins fan and shares season tickets with Andrew Brunette.
They're looking good this year. They've got a good team in a new park, and they always play well after the All-Star break. I think their pitching is pretty good. I'd love to see them get to the World Series and I think they've got just as good of a shot as any other American League team. Tim, Isanti
What do you do in your free time?
It's devoted to family and kids, really. In the summer, I just train in the morning and then hang out with the family the rest of the day. I golfed a little bit, and took in a few movies. But it's mostly geared around the kids, especially with the season coming closer. You want to get as much time with them as you can.Paul, North St. Paul
Are you looking forward to going to Finland?
Yeah, I think it's going to be fun. I know some guys from other teams that have been there at the start of the year and they said it's been fun. I know the Finnish guys on our team are pretty pumped up to go over there and play some games in their home country. That will be fun.
I also think it's great team building to fly over there and hang out together for a week. There will be a lot of team-oriented things to do that I think will help us in the long run. Chris, White Bear Lake
I'm getting a new car soon. Any recommendations?
(laughs) It depends on what your price range is I guess. I don't know how you can go wrong with a 1985 Cutlass Supreme. Cassie, Austin
What is the worst injury you've ever had in your hockey career?
I had a minor concussion at the end of one year. It wasn't serious, but it's something that was not a lot of fun with how bad you feel. I really feel for the guys like Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, who miss a long time or even a whole season. It's a bad feeling. You don't feel right and you get headaches. The big thing is you can't live your normal, daily life. Mine wasn't serious, but it was tough to deal with those symptoms. I couldn't imagine having a serious one and going through what those guys have gone through. Editor's Note: It was pointed out to Nick that many would have guessed his pendicitis that forced him to miss the start of the 2008 playoffs would have been his answer.
Yeah, that wasn't much fun either (laughs
). That was something where it was only pain for a couple days, and they removed it. And then a few days later I started feeling better. It was a pretty quick recovery. But at the time, it felt like a knife was stuck in my lower abdomen. It wasn't much fun. Kris, Strasbourg, SaskatchewanHow close did your older, much better looking brother come to hitting a home run during batting practice with the Twins? Also I was wondering if you will get a goal after October this season?
) Yeah, we hit batting practice at the start of the Twins season, and my brother Kris hit one to right field, and it was about a foot from going over the big wall. When he walked back, Justin Morneau told him that it would have been out in Chicago. So he was pretty pumped about that.
It was a lot of fun for all of us to be out there and have Gardenhire throw batting practice to us. Growing up playing baseball, it was a dream come true for all of us, and especially my brother.
And yeah, I hope I score in October, November and December. It's been about 70 games so I hope I can get a few more after October.