Friday, 3:30 p.m. EST
It’s that part of the road trip we love the most -- except for maybe the flight home -- the day you can say you’re going home “tomorrow.”
The Wild was on the ice for more than an hour today at Dispatch Ice Haus, which is the practice facility attached to the Nationwide Arena, still cleaning up from a tractor pull.
The power play unit met for about 20 minutes before the game, and most of practice was spent with the man advantage. Usually, the players are split up into different colors based on lines, or forwards and defense, but, today, green players were primarily power play players, and red were those who don’t play on the power play.Niklas Backstrom
was given the day off to rest, but was at the rink. Backstrom is scheduled to be a guest with Matt Thomas on KSTP 1500 AM at 6:15 p.m. (CST) tonight. Derek Boogaard (upper body injury) did not practice. Martin Skoula is over the flu and skated.
As I mentioned last night, every player has his own room in Columbus to keep any more sickness from spreading. On a related note, only one beat writer, John Shipley of the Pioneer Press, attended practice today. Mike Russo of the Star Tribune wasn’t feeling well, and I suggested that it was in both his and that of the team he covers best interest to stay away. He talked to Jacques Lemaire on the phone, and will soon receive a call from Andrew Brunette.
I just did some statistical research for the coaches, and ordered a “Latitude 41 Burger” from room service. The 10 a.m. granola bar had worn off, and, as much as I’d have liked to have made it to dinner time without eating again, it wasn’t going to happen. I have a couple other press releases to work on, too.
I need to publicly thank Brent Proulx, the Wild’s assistant equipment manager, who may have saved my briefcase bag from destruction today. I left it right (and I mean a foot) outside our locker room today. We made the two-minute walk to the Ice Haus, and I came back an hour later and my bag was gone. Brent had rescued it and put it in the trainer’s room. He said security had surrounded it, and appeared poised to call the police for the “suspicious” package.
For the first time at Nationwide Arena, the Wild’s backup goalie will be able to sit on the bench, not on a stool behind the bench. They’ve installed a “flip” part of the bench that flips up and down to make extra room.
The Blue Jackets are in Washington tonight, so they’ll be playing the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow -- without eight regulars, including Rick Nash. But you see it time and time again, when teams are depleted, they play better as a team and often win.
Our travel last night was uneventful until we arrived in Columbus. The ground support guy pulls the steps up as always, and we wait for them to open the door. Five minutes later, the steps disappear and is nowhere in sight. I call the ground support desk, and she says he had to go get different steps (I guess they were the wrong ones), and the minutes tick by. I call again, very agitated, and she says the hangar door wouldn’t open. Then, finally, he got them out and brought them over to the plane. We were on the plane almost 30 minutes waiting for the proper stairs. You know how I say that the travel guy can do all his jobs properly and stuff can still go wrong? I’ve told some people in this business the story, and I’ve received a lot of “I’ve had a lot happen to me, but not that.”
We had the “McCain Plane” for the first time since it was reconfigured after the election. It’s older, but I like it because there are electrical outlets in every row. Cookie and the rest of the crew will take us home tomorrow night, too. Snow tonight and during the day tomorrow in Columbus, but should be all clear for our flight home to cold Minnesota. Cookie is great. She came around asking us if we needed any “special goodies” for our hotel, such as chocolate, chips, water, etc. My bag was quite heavy!
Just received a call from Pat O’Connor, our producer/director for over-the-air games. He’s flying in late tonight. One of tomorrow’s intermissions will feature the Gophers women’s hockey team and leading scorer Gigi Marvin. The Gophers will be at the game.
Mailbag time. Some good questions. Keep them coming at email@example.com
Just wanted to say I love the blog. It's much easier to feel connected to the team when we get to hear what's happening daily. I've been reading the game scoresheets lately and noticed that they state who picked the three stars for each game. Who chooses the three stars? Does Let's Play Hockey always pick them for Wild home games?
Mary in Apple Valley
A: Thanks for reading, Mary! A representative from Let’s Play Hockey picks the three stars at all Wild home games. It’s different at other arenas. Sometimes one media person is in charge of picking them, while in others, they pass out ballots and count the votes.
Q: Hey Ryan,
I just started reading your feed a couple days ago and I like it. It is fun to read about the daily routine of the Wild. I am a fairly new hockey fan, getting into the game more and more the past few years, with this year being a little obsessive – at least I think my husband thinks so.
The Scott vs. Gratton “fight” was just funny.
Have a good one,
A: Welcome to the R.S.S. Feed, and to obsessive hockey fandom. You’ll love both! Everyone got a good chuckle out of the “fight.”
Q: What are the names of the major newspapers that follow your team?
A: Thanks for reading, Joseph. Mike Russo of the Star Tribune (www.startribune.com) and John Shipley of the Pioneer Press (www.twincities.com) are the beat writers for the two papers that travel to all games.
Q: Hi Ryan,
Any news from Lemaire in the media why Benoit Pouliot is playing power play but still playing fourth line when it comes to regular shifts Also, great job on the blog. I read it everyday. Do rookies have chores around the rink or on roadies?
Justin (childhood and still good friend of Benoit Pouliot)
A: Thanks for the e-mail, Justin. Like many of the Wild’s younger players (Krys Kolanos and James Sheppard included), Pouliot is getting power play time because of his skill set. Pouliot has seen time on higher lines at even strength, as well. Rookies basically pick up the pucks after every practice. Everyone is in charge of making sure their own laundry, etc., gets in the basket.
I’m going to finish up a couple of cold french fries and delve into a Minnesota Swarm release. I plan on going somewhere near the hotel to watch the Blue Jackets/Caps game tonight. It’s an exciting day tomorrow -- a former coworker in Houston, now living in Lexington, Ky., is driving up for the day.