The Minnesota Wild’s morning meeting had a little different vibe before the team took the ice for its pregame skate in Tampa Bay. Head Coach Mike Yeo invited the fathers and mentors, who are on the trip as the club closes the Florida portion of the roadie, into the room.
“They were pretty quiet, I felt like a school teacher,” Yeo joked. “I asked a couple of questions and nobody wanted to talk.
“A couple of guys started to raise their hands, and their sons grabbed their arms to make sure they couldn’t raise it.”
Yeo cracked that he didn’t show any power play footage so that the fathers and mentors wouldn’t have any pointers.
Most of the dads and mentors arrived in the Sunshine State last night or today as the team takes on the Tampa Bay Lightning. The thrill of playing in front of your father never gets old, even when you play in your home state.
“It’s his first time being able to come on a trip like this,” defenseman Prosser said. “He’s the reason I am where I am, taking me to the outdoor rinks and on road trips growing up in youth hockey.”
Being a hockey dad means hours of time watching games and practices in cold rinks. The players realized their parents’ commitments to them and, in turn, try to pay them back with their play on ice.
“He was the guy taking me to the rink and tying my skates,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “He sacrificed so much driving me to the rinks…He wasn’t going to work hard if I wasn’t going to work hard on the ice. That’s where my work ethic came from.”
Although it’s fun for the sons to show their dad life on the road, the players have a big task tonight and want to earn a win while their pops are in the stands.
“I’m hoping I can be at my best tonight, and we as a whole can do our best to make this trip memorable,” Dumba said.
Captain Mikko Koivu missed nearly the entire third period in the team’s last outing against the Philadelphia Flyers because he was feeling ill (different symptoms from the illness that has Jonas Brodin on Injured Reserve), but is expecting to be in the lineup tonight. The center said that he wasn’t feeling well and things escalated as the game went on.
At the team’s morning skate, he was centering Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine.
Kyle Brodziak will return to the lineup against Tampa. If Koivu is good to go, Brodziak will be on the wing with Erik Haula and Ryan Carter.