Media Relations and Team Services Coordinator Ryan Stanzel will file a periodic blog throughout the 2008-09 season, if only to prove to his mother that her son does more than “watch sports for a living.“ He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Oct. 3, 20089:30 a.m.
Oct. 3, 2008
Minnesota vs. Columbus
6 p.m. CDT
-- NEWS --
"Neither Josh Harding nor Marek Zidlicky are on this trip with us. Harding, as you saw [Wednesday] night, was caught with a stick in the eye -- through his goalie mask -- and has a scratched cornea. He’ll be re-evaluated when we return Sunday. Zidlicky is still hampered by a sore leg and will miss these two games also."
-- PROBABLE LINEUP --
Good morning from Columbus, Wild fans everywhere. I’m downstairs in the “Latitude 41 Lounge," where I am resting comfortably at my laptop because our bus is here already for our 10:15 a.m. departure to the arena. At some point around lunchtime, we’ll hopefully get our lineup for tonight and pass it onto Jamie MacDonald, who is doing Yeoman’s work posting this thing.
I spent last night at the Blue Jackets-Sabres game, although I left midway through the third in order to beat some traffic ($4.80 cabride) and get some rest. I had forgotten about the cannon that Columbus shoots off when a goal is scored. Fortunately, just one for the home team was scored (and two in total) last night. Hopefully, tonight, we don’t have to hear the cannon at all.
Speaking of scores, I forgot to mention this yesterday. The goal scored with less than three seconds left in the final home preseason game Wednesday? You know when I saw that goal had been scored? About 40 minutes after the game when I saw the boxscore upstairs. Typically, I don’t leave the press box until the game ends, as I am typing up postgame notes to send out when the buzzer sounds. We don’t send postgame notes in the preseason, and I thought I’d get a jump on the crowd taking the elevator downstairs. I thought the final 20 seconds took a bit long, but it often does. So I need to check the scoreboard more often.
Last night, I also got to visit with Larry Wigge of NHL.com, who is going to interview Pierre-Marc Bouchard
this morning. So look for that story in the future.
I got to thinking last night when checking into the hotel -- what makes a good hotel? Good bed? Pillows? Room service? To me (get ready) ... it’s outlets. There’s nothing worse than having to search for five minutes to plug your cell phone in when you arrive somewhere in the middle of the night. My BlackBerry drains its battery like nothing else because I use it so often while traveling, and I am always “on call,” so I have to have it near me, even when I’m asleep. You’d be amazed at the number of hotels whose only outlet in the bedroom houses the alarm clock and/or the lamp. At our hotel in Columbus, there are three outlets attached to the lamp, so we were all set to do some web surfing too.
Another important thing about hotels -- simplicity of alarm clocks. The one here in Columbus was a bit too high-tech for my liking. As much as I like to hit one button for “country” or “jazz” to wake up ... I just need something to blare really loud to get me out of my slumber.
I often get asked what my favorite cities are on the road, too. Now, I have not traveled to every NHL city –- I can’t wait to get to Montreal, and then see some family in New York in the early spring -– but I do have some favorites.
1)Vancouver -– Outside of Florence, Italy, maybe my favorite city on earth. “Heaven on earth” as I describe it when I’m there. It doesn’t matter if it’s rainy and 42 degrees (as it often is during hockey season), you can’t possibly not have a smile on your face in British Columbia.
It probably doesn’t hurt that on my first trip to Vancouver, we had an entire off day, so I was able to walk around the city for 12 hours. It reminds me of New York -- in fact, it has a higher population density than any other metropolitan area in North America, including Manhattan -- and it’s very clean with great restaurants and friendly people. Our hotel is right on the water, too. Look left and see mountains and water; look right and see water and the beautiful city skyline. We aren’t the only high-profile guests who have stayed there, either. A suite on the top floor is entitled the “Howard Hughes Suite” -- The Aviator lived on the top floor for six months.
Traffic is the one thing that can make Vancouver a bear -- however, with the Olympics coming in 2010, they are building some more roads. It’s pretty much a two-lane “highway” in and out of town currently. As Mario Tremblay noted on a trip in last season: “If I were coming to the Olympics, I’d want a bike.” There’s lots to do in Vancouver, too. Wild TV analyst Mike Greenlay enjoys Whistler Mountain, which is less than a two-hour bus ride and is where the Olympic skiing events will take place.
2)Denver -- The results were not what we wanted in Denver during the postseason, but there are few better places to spend several days in mid-April. For someone who grew up at the base of the Adirondack Mountains in Vermont but has lived mostly in the South since, the mountains are a great sight. The winters are even bearable -- it’s not unusual to have a 70-degree day in the middle of January (and a foot of snow the next day).
We also stay in the heart of downtown -- walkable to all the major arenas. Denver was the home to probably my most memorable Wild road trip -- and it was one of my first, too. In late October 2007, we were not the only athletes at our hotel. The Boston Red Sox stayed there during the World Series. And just an hour after we checked out, the Green Bay Packers checked in. Security was tight, to say the least. This is also where I was mistaken for Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester. Waiting in my suit and overcoat (my Southern blood was still thickening), a pocket of fans on the street yelled out to me: “Jon Lester, Jon Lester, will you sign for us?” I looked around and saw no one else -- despite the fact the Red Sox bus was boarding at that same time, too. Tall, goofy guy with kind of a big head ... yeah I guess it fits.
3)Nashville -- I admit it, I’m a country music fan, and that’s probably why Nashville ranks this high. I’m particularly a fan of obscure country music like Shooter Jennings and Cross Canadian Ragweed -- and it’s one place I know I can go CD shopping. Nashville is also home to the Charlie Daniels Museum ... yes, I even have a bobblehead. And the city is close enough where my dad will occasionally come up from South Carolina, and I have some other friends in Tennessee, too.
We stay next door to the arena, so there’s less time worrying about bus times and more time for great BBQ and live music joints. One thing I remember about my first trip there (besides seeing “Hannah Montana” in the hotel lobby): I always thought Music Row went for miles and miles and miles. It’s really not that big. All this, and I’ve never even had the time to check out The Opry or anything like that.
Honorable mentions -- San Jose (Northern California's mountains are awesome), Los Angeles/Anaheim (from our hotel in Anaheim, I can see the Disneyland fireworks), Atlanta (another great city with good friends nearby), Dallas (where I unfortunately don’t go this year), Edmonton (a great, underestimated city with great food). Carolina would probably have made the list if we had gone more than once -- I went to school in Charlotte and spent a lot of time in the Research Triangle. Our hotel there is fabulous and has a private lake.
And a quick mailbag before we catch the bus. You can join in the fun at email@example.com.
Q: Hi Ryan,
I have been reading your blog with interest recently. I enjoy it, though you have, admittedly, spent a lot of time talking about food recently. I agree that food is important, but what we really want to know is more about how much James Sheppard, or Mikko Koivu
, for example, enjoy their cookies. Please try to supply this information next time also.
Secondly -- who are you, actually? I just looked you up in Wikipedia and you have no entry. Are you, then, just Joe Bloggs picked from obscurity? I know you are some kind of PR/media person (and I know you like cookies), but how long have you been working with the Wild? How did this blog come about? How old are you? What are your hockey-related qualifications? Can we have a mug shot? If I'm going to have to read your work regularly, this is something I would like to know. Hockey is personal.
Thanks for your time and keep up the good work. You write well.
A: Steph -- Awesome note and point. Koivu generally does not go for the cookie; he does, however, get the glass of milk that comes with it, because milk does a body good.
No Wikipedia entry? I’ll have to jump on that. I have been the Wild’s media relations/team services coordinator since September 2007. But I’m not new to the Wild family. I started out my PR career with the ECHL’s Louisiana IceGators in 2001 (Derek Boogaard was my “teammate” in 2002-03) and then spent four seasons with the Houston Aeros. I’m from upstate New York and attended college in the Carolinas.
As for blogging, I produced a blog in Houston with equipment manager Rick Bronwell (now in San Jose). He was the creative one, I was the brains, so I know exactly how hard Jamie is working back at the office to get this thing to look good on the Internet. I’m 29. I mean ... 30. Sorry, that last birthday was a hard one. This blog came about just prior to training camp, when Jamie was looking for some more original content. It looks like we’ll continue it past training camp, to the delight and/or anger of the world wide web. A mug shot? For security reasons, I’m not so sure. Just kidding. I’ll try to get a picture of me hanging out of a press box window on the road.
Thanks again for the note. Good stuff.
[Ed note: I thought we were almost going to get a zodiac sign there.]
Q: I'm a transplanted Minnesota Wild Thang living in Maryland and I just discovered your blogs; they're fun to read and informative -- thanks and keep up the good work!! I went to my first Wild game last winter when I was home for the holidays, thanks to a friend with season tix. Even though they lost to the Stars (3-2), I realized that Xcel Energy Center is a very special place with awesome fans. The excitement and energy of the crowd was more intense than any college or professional sporting event I've ever attended (and I've attended World Series games), it really fired me up! Watching Gaborik flying all over the ice was amazing! In fact, when I came back home I decided to invest in a season ticket plan for the 08-09 Captitals. Somehow I feel like the Wild should get a commission because, had I not gone to that Wild game, I'd probably settle for my usual 2-3 games per season. Verizon Center is nothing like Xcel, but with the improvement of the Caps and "OvechKing," it should be a gas. Don't worry, though, I'll always be a Wild fan first and I look forward to following your blogs and the Wild all season. GO WILD!!! Looking forward to your blog on your favorite road cities. If you haven't dined at the District Chop House it's a must when you're in Washington!
A: Hi Scott, thanks for the note and for reading all the way from the East Coast. I’ll keep the Chop House on my list for the future. Unfortunately, the Wild does not visit Washington this season. We hope to see you back at Xcel in the future!
Q: Hi Ryan,
It's Cassidy's mom, again. Remember, Cal's #1 fan from Oshawa? I was just on the Wild website and noticed Cal is sporting a new number. Can you tell me why his number has been changed from 22 to 78? Does this mean he is staying with the big team?
Cassidy's Mom (Irene)
A: Cassidy/Irene. No. 78 was Cal’s practice number in training camp. No. 22 is his game number. Many of the prospects have different (and higher) numbers for practice, but regular game numbers as well. Colton Gillies is No. 61 when we practice, but No. 18 in games.
Thanks everyone for the great e-mails today. We’ll be back soon with a lineup update.9:35 a.m
Here is tonight's lineup:
Veilleux - Sheppard - Weller
Boogaard - Kolanos - Clutterbuck
Gillies - Pouliot - Gaborik
Bouchard - Belanger - Nolan
Falk - Johnsson
Scott - Burns
Schultz - Skoula
Backstrom - Brust1:30 p.m.
I’m back in my room, having just sent tonight’s ticket list (only two tickets) to the Blue Jackets office, and now I need to get to work on figuring out tomorrow night’s ticket situation. At least Jacques Lemaire doesn’t need tickets -- only passes to get downstairs after the game. Jacques’ son has a suite for the game.
Before I forget, the coolest thing happened this morning. At most of our hotels, there are a handful of people near the bus to get autographs. Columbus is no exception. As I introduced myself to our bus driver, Rich, about 30 minutes before our scheduled 10:15 a.m. departure time, one of the guys heard me say my name and he yelled “Ryan, your blog is awesome” to me.
This morning’s skate was optional -- for all those playing in tonight’s game, anyways. Jacques sat upstairs in the stands and watched practice. I coordinated Larry Wigge’s interview for NHL.com with Pierre-Marc Bouchard
We had a 12:05 p.m. “first bus” (we make two bus runs after practice) back to the hotel. At 12:02, I got a text from Derek Boogaard asking me “What time is the 12:05 bus?” I told him to calm down and went out to the bus with a couple of stragglers, while Nick Schultz (second bus) watched New Jersey Devil Brian Rolston do an interview with TSN’s Off The Record.
Back at the hotel, we had to get new keys upon arrival -- they accidentally switched our keys off at noon today. We then headed upstairs for lunch. The player get to choose from two types of soup (chicken noodle and minestrone), and have salad, pasta (marinara, meat and alfredo sauces), chicken, pasta and salmon. And baked potatoes and rice. And then ice cream for dessert, not to mention an array of drinks that include water and juices. I went rather light with my fare today, since I’m not playing a hockey game tonight. I do, however, plan to hit the gym after finishing the blog.
Mailbag time ...
Q: With the departure of a veteran leader such as Brian Rolston, do you think that will help force some guys to step up even more such as what happened with the Twins losing Hunter and Santana? If so, who do you see being the ones to step up and take a more active role?
Eric from New Brighton
A: Obviously, losing a player like Brian Rolston is hard because not only of his play on the ice, but also his leadership in the locker room. I think, however, that, like the Twins, the Wild has many players both younger and older to step up. Nick Schultz did tremendous work as the team’s captain last season. Mikko Koivu
leads by example. Kim Johnsson played great hockey down the stretch, is a vocal leader and wore the “C” early in the preseason. Stephane Veilleux
is fiery. Marian Gaborik, the list goes on. Even a young player such as James Sheppard, in his second season, has shown tremendous leadership qualities. And with veterans Owen Nolan and Andrew Brunette, their leadership is invaluable. I think this could end up being the most close-knit Wild team ever.
Q: Hello Ryan and Aaron !
I'm following your blog each day ... and I found it very funny to read with a lot of inside information. I hope you will continue during the season ! I'm a Montrealer Wild Fan -- explaining why my English is not very good! ... And I want to wish you: "Bienvenue at Montreal," where you could found the best NHL crowd ... after Minnesota one of course ;-)
I will be at the game tomorrow night for one of rare Wild visit in Quebec ... and I'm counting days since NHL published the preseason calendar!
I have a question for your blog: Do you see that Quebecers on the team are excited to come to Montreal to play in front of family and friends? Do you feel some excitation from Butch, Steph V, MA Bergeron, Eric Bélanger and our former Habs coach staff? Do you see the same thing when players came back to their hometown to play an exhibition or a season game?
Thanks for reading me ... and I'm hoping you will publish me. I'm a member of Wild.com board since 2006 and I have a lot of friends there too.
Merci! (Thanks you in French)
From Stephan, the greatest Wild fan in Quebec !
A: Merci to you, Stephan! It’s great to know we’ll have some Wild fans cheering us on in Montreal tomorrow night. I can’t wait for some of the Quebec hospitality. We’ll be looking for you. Generally, the players love playing in their hometowns -- especially guys like Bouchard and Veilleux, who have spent their entire careers away from Montreal, so they have not been able to play there much as pros. The coaching staff ... Jacques will have plenty of friends and family there. A big smile on his face in the elevator after lunch telling me about it. We just wish we had more time in Montreal!
Q: Hi Ryan,
One request from a Wild fan. Is there a place on the Wild website where I can see the latest forward line combinations that Jacques is using? I'm always interested in who is playing with whom and who is out of the lineup. I come up with 15,400 possibilities using 12 starting forwards.
Joe from Brooklyn Park
A: Hi Joe. I try to post line combinations on the mornings of games when I know them. But, as you note, Jacques doesn’t often stick with the same lines for more than, say, a period?
I sat next to Jacques at lunch before a game last season, I’m not sure where we were. He had different combinations of numbers written down on two sides of a letter envelope. There must have been 75 combinations he came up with and showed Mario Tremblay. I think Jacques generally likes to find two forwards to play together, and will rotate the third guys in.
Thanks for the e-mails today. There are several others I will get to in the coming days. Now, I’m going to call the bus and hotel for tonight in Montreal to confirm everything. We’re due in at 12:18 a.m., and we’ll be off to our hotel as soon as customs comes on the plane to clear us. We all have our passports, supposing no one has lost it since yesterday. When I’m traveling to Canada, I find myself checking my bag for my passport at least once an hour.
We’ll talk to everyone from the game tonight. Go Wild!6:45 p.m.
I typed thinking this was Saturday. Wishful thinking, perhaps.
Greetings from high above Nationwide Arena, from probably the longest press box in the NHL. I am a good 50 feet past the goal line -- I have a better spot, but this allows me a bit more room over here. Danny Irmen is sitting nearby, and we’ll see if he has anything to chime in with tonight.
The lineup is as we reported earlier. The crowd is filing in to the arena, and we’ll also be monitoring the action of our aircraft, which is due in at 8:30 p.m. from Raleigh-Durham.
While I was eating with a member of the Wild earlier, he was quick to tell me “My sister wanted me to let you know she loves the blog.” So we’ll say hello to Laura -- we’ll keep both yourself and your brother a secret for now. But thanks for reading. Apparently Laura is ready to book a trip to Vancouver after reading my top three road trip locations. What about you? Where’s your favorite place to follow the Wild? E-mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also a shoutout to Boomer, who is always helpful in getting Wild players and management on XM 204.
Danny has delivered a bottled water to me, and we are ready to go. I’m going to go somewhere and hide my ears from the giant cannon they shoot off in the pregame, until gametime.Gametime
I paid Irmen back for the bottled water by letting him know about the horribly loud cannon they shoot off during warm-ups. He plugged his ears and is glad he did. We’re going to let Irmen watch the game now.
18:50 - Blue Jackets goalie Pascal Leclaire stones a cutting Owen Nolan from just outside the crease.
Someone remind me to go downstairs between periods. Although I doubt we’ll have a busy first intermission, as Irmen will be on the air with Tom Reid from the press box. During my trip to Columbus last season, there was only radio station, no TV, and radio didn’t need anyone until post-game. It was also a one-game trip with no management along for the trip, so goalie coach Bob Mason and I had an entire media suite to ourselves.
17:30 - We have the preseason NHL debut of Justin Falk
, who was signed earlier today.
17:11 - And we have a cannon shot, it’s 1-0 Columbus, on a rebound goal by Craig MacDonald.
We heard earlier today from Patrick Armstrong, PR guru for the Houston Aeros, who open their preseason tonight against the San Antonio Rampage. Tom Lynn, the Wild’s Assistant GM/Player Personnel, who serves as the Aeros’ GM, checked in with new Aeros radio voice Joe O’Donnell earlier today for a preview of the Aeros’ season (here's the link
12:48 - Five-on-three for the Wild for 25 seconds. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
just fired a shot off the outside of the net.
11:30 - That was the Wild’s best chance on the second power play, and we’re back to even strength.
10:45 - Just as the penalty expired, the Wild had a great chance, but Marian Gaborik couldn’t get a handle on a bouncing rebound after Martin Skoula fired from the point.
9:28 - Did you know the new NHL rule regarding icing calls and TV timeouts? Typically, TV timeouts come at the first even strength whistle after the 14:00, 10:00 and 6:00 minute marks of a period. So often you’d see a guy gassed at the end of a shift, 9:59 on the clock, launch the puck down the ice knowing he’d have a “two and two” (thank you Chuck Woolery
) break coming up. No more. In a good move by the League, TV timeouts won’t be called until the first non-icing timeout past those marks.
8:16 - Note to self to pay the sandwich man downstairs between periods. Typically, we order five or six pizzas for the players for immediately following the game, before we depart for the airport. In Columbus, we order sandwiches because they are so good here. A bit more expensive (note to finance), but worth it.
6:45 - Ok it’s time to take advantage of the upcoming six-minute timeout and get downstairs. We’ll hope it’s not 1-0 after one!Beginning of second period
Well, it’s not 1-0 after one, it’s 2-0, thanks to a Blue Jackets power play goal in the final 35 seconds. Columbus is helped out by another new NHL rule, one explained to me by Andrew Brunette (not playing tonight) downstairs just seconds before the goal went in. Craig Weller picked up a penalty deep in the Columbus zone. Now, all penalties come back in front of the penalized team’s goalie. The Blue Jackets won the faceoff, and soon thereafter had a two-goal lead.
I paid the locker room attendant for the sandwiches -- $210 with tip, as we have more players than usual on this trip. We don’t have too long a trip to the airport after the game, so the boys will be dining on their entrees soon.
Hope everyone heard Danny’s interview with Tom Reid between periods. He’s a smart kid, a Gopher and all, but I still sent him a reminder text from downstairs and he didn’t disappoint. Irmen’s prediction for this period -- a bit more physical play.
One other note from downstairs. The bench here in Columbus is one of the smaller ones in the NHL. Barry Brust, backing up Niklas Backstrom
tonight, sits on a chair behind the bench in the runway.Second period
18:30 - Backstrom makes an outstanding pad save to rob R.J. Umberger’s attempt at a second goal.
15:15 - Columbus isn't having much luck on a power play, and it's good news from aboard our Boeing 737, which is exactly halfway through its 64-minute flight to Ohio. It’s due seven minutes early.
14:40 - Derek Boogaard gets tangled up in front of the Columbus bench with a gaggle of Blue Jackets. No penalties called.
11:40 - Another Columbus power play, as Cal Clutterbuck
goes to the penalty box for interference. Shots are 17-5 in favor of the Blue Jackets.
9:09 - Blue Jackets make it 3-0 (ears pounding) just as another penalty was being called on the Wild. Shots now 20-5. Kristian Huselius, signed away from Calgary in the off-season, with the goal.
8:05 - In-house trivia tells us that Mike Commodore of Fighting Sioux fame wears a bathrobe around in the locker room before games. It’s nice to know that our own Brad Bombardir isn’t the only crazy UND product around!
7:32 - I’m going to head downstairs a couple of minutes early, as I have to walk the length of the ice and then some more to get to the elevator. As I do, Columbus’ Richard Matvichuck heads to the penalty box for holding.Beginning of third period
Well, I know how to wake up the boys, don’t I? Just start walking downstairs, and ... goal No. 1 (Owen Nolan) happened before I stepped on the elevator, where I chatted with the elevator man, a UM-Duluth grad ... goal No. 2 (Gaborik, on a nice cross-ice pass from Columbus’ Rick Nash) happened as I walked through the event level, so I didn’t see it either until the replay. And then the Wild tied things up at 3-3 when Gaborik stole the puck on the power play and was stopped by Pascal Leclaire, but James Sheppard hopped on the rebound and put it home.
We may have to give Danny Irmen the keys to the blog next time we have to go downstairs.
Good news, our airplane has landed. I’m waiting on a call from our trusty pilot, Mike, with screening instructions tonight. That means whether we’ll screen in the hangar or planeside. Usually, in the regular season, when we are screened on back-to-back games, we will do it at the arena. That saves us time because they don’t go through bags, etc. We’ll be in a hustle getting out of here tonight, so we may need Jamie MacDonald’s help back at the ranch to finish this thing off. Let’s win it in regulation!
Before I forget, I was on the elevator back upstairs with Raffi Torres of the Blue Jackets. Torres missed most of last season with a torn knee ligament, and is out with a shoulder injury, suffered while fighting Chicago’s Ben Eager earlier this week.
15:30 - Derek Boogaard runs Jared Boll hard into the boards, and, seconds later, Craig Weller goes end over end with a flip and, fortunately, lands on his backside and not his head. We’ll give Weller a 9.2 for the move.
12:52 - Just got off the phone with Captain Mike. He’s all set, and we are screening inside. And we have plenty of cushion, but if we need another reason to settle this thing in regulation, Montreal has an incoming airport curfew of 1 a.m. We’re scheduled to land at 12:18.
10:40 - Blue Jackets are back on the power play after a penalty to Marian Gaborik. And I realized I forgot to thank Danny Irmen for yet another bottle of water during the second intermission.
9:39 - The Wild will have to kill off 28 seconds of a five-on-three after Brent Burns clocks a man down low. Check that, Columbus’ Jason Chimera goes to the box too for retaliating. What a hit by Burns, though. It remains a one-man advantage.
9:18 - It’s 4-3 Blue Jackets. During a mad scramble in front of the net and with Backstrom prone on the ice, it looks like Kris Russell put the puck in. I’m going to head downstairs. Jamie, the blog is all yours.
[Ed note: Because the Red Sox game does not start for another 10-15 minutes, the hand-off comes at a good time.]
3:10 - Listening to Bob Kurtz, the former Red Sox play-by-play for the Red Sox, whose voice lives in an area reserved for my own sublime childhood memories of summers on Cape Cod, and Tom Reid, should be a must for Wild fans. Not only are they two of the nicer guys you'll meet, but they are absolute pros and a joy to hear broadcasting hockey.
00:55 - "Empty net goal for Manny Malhotra, and the Blue Jackets lead, 5-3." Rick Nash picks up an assist, and it looks like time to fire up the engines for Montreal.
00:00 - Minnesota makes a game of things with an encouraging second period, but Columbus' two-goal third sends the Wild to its second loss of the preaseason.
Wow, I thought the red jacket Craig Sager wore last night was a garish choice. He's going with a pistachio number tonight along with a tie that would make Don Cherry proud.
Same time, same place tomorrow night for Wild fans -- 6 p.m., 830 WCCO for the radio broadcast, which is also available online -- as the team comes to you live from Montreal. Stanzel will return to the keyboard for that one.
Good night, Wild fans.