Oct. 10, 2008
I’m back from Parade Ice Garden after a spirited Wild practice on the eve of the team’s eighth season opener.
The first line of business today was selecting a captain for the month of October. Count me among those who didn’t think Mikko Koivu
would be named captain, since he and Andrew Brunette were given 'A's for alternate captains yesterday. Koivu, described by GM Doug Risebrough on the first day of camp as looking like he was already in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, obviously has the respect of not only the coaches but also his fellow players.THIS JUST IN ... Offseason edition Craig Weller will be on WCCO radio tonight with Mike Max at 7:10 p.m.
A special guest was on hand to give Koivu the jersey with the 'C' on it -- Wild owner Craig Leipold, who gave a brief speech to the team on the bench before handing over the jersey. Koivu did the “victory lap” with his teammates cheering, and then practice began.
This will set up an interesting match-up for Oct. 30, when the Wild host the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens captain, of course, is Mikko’s older (and much smaller) brother, Saku. The media is already champing at the bit for that one.
Once it was confirmed that Koivu had the 'C' (only assistant equipment manager Brent Proulx and the coaches know), I sent a quick note to Aaron Sickman back at the Wild offices so he could send out the press release.
Jacques Lemaire told reporters they would know “about 7:20” Saturday night who will wear the other 'A' now that Koivu is wearing the 'C.'
Most of the players were on the ice for close to 90 minutes. That’s long for a day-before-game practice, but, of course, this isn’t mid-season quite yet. We had a good media contingent at practice, several cameras, plus writers from both papers. Our TV crew was also out there to meet in advance of tomorrow’s game. And let’s not forget Wild TV, plus Wild Radio and PONDCast’s Kevin Falness, who doesn’t give a lot of credence or love to my blog. So those of you on the Wild message boards, make sure you let Kevin know you’re reading.
Jacques held court for quite some time, and then, of course, Koivu was the center of attention in the locker room. Koivu joked that as captain he would talk to reporters “only after wins.” But he was kidding. We think.
Another interesting development, if you’ve read the papers, is the closure of I-94 in both directions this weekend between Minneapolis and Highway 280. Many of our players live in Minneapolis, and some aren’t that familiar with much of the area outside of I-94. So Aaron Sickman looked up three different alternate routes for players to get to Xcel Energy Center -- not just for the game, but also for the pre-game skate Saturday morning.
I figured I would put those directions in here, too, for those coming to the game. The road is closed from Friday night until Sunday morning.
• Take 35W North to Highway 36 East to 35E South to downtown St. Paul
• Take University Avenue East to Highway 280 South to 94 East to downtown St. Paul
• Take 35W South to Highway 62 East to Highway 5 East towards St. Paul. Follow Highway 5 to Sheppard Road Exit and take Sheppard Road to downtown St. Paul.
For those of you coming to the opener, don’t forget the pre-game party with live music, food, beverages and interactive hockey games. The event begins at 4 p.m. on the top level of the RiverCenter ramp across Kellogg Street from Xcel Energy Center. Sounds like a great day tomorrow with temps in the low 70s.
I also brought itineraries for next week’s road trip. Kim Johnsson was the first to notice that we are practicing in town Monday before departing for Atlanta, where we play Game No. 2 on Tuesday night. That is a departure from our usual. Typically, we fly and then practice in the visiting city to “stretch the road legs.” Because Atlanta is so spread out, and there wasn’t much ice available, this changed for this trip.
It’s also nice for the equipment guys and trainers that for both non-gamedays in Florida, we are practicing at the game rink. It’s a pain for the guys to move gear into one place and then out and into another. Worse for the players is the “Dress and Drive” -- we did this in Nashville last year, and a couple other places as well. We get dressed at the game rink, then take a bus (the guys carry their skates and sticks and are in full gear other than that) to the practice rink.
I’ve also mentioned how nice it is in cities where we don’t have to take a bus to practice. That’s the case in Tampa Bay, where we stay two blocks from St. Pete Times Forum.
Let’s get into a quick mailbag before posting this.
I think now would be a good time to highlight the different players from this year's team to last year's team. Who's new (where they played last year) and who's left (where did they go)? I especially wanted to know where Keith Carney is ... did he retire?
Matt from Willmar
A: Hey Matt, that’s a great question. I will try to have the answer on everyone tomorrow. Carney attended Chicago Blackhawks camp on a tryout, though he’s not on their opening night roster. Stay tuned.
Remember to keep those questions coming to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve got a few more things to get done so I can relax at the Rascal Flatts concert tonight. I am almost as excited as Josh Harding
is about the show.
Tomorrow I will try to blog at different points throughout the day, to give you an idea of what our gamedays are like. Typically there’s a bit of a downtime in the early afternoon, but with tomorrow being the opener, that’s not very likely.