Between managing players, staff and equipment going on the road means a lot more than just visiting a different city for a few nights. As the Wild head west for four days on a two-game road trip to Los Angeles and Phoenix, we'll give you a behind-the-scenes look into all the happenings on the road. Make sure to check back in each day.
Check out all the behind-the-scenes photos: Wild On The Road Photo Gallery
Day 1: Flying to LA
Day 2: Game Day in LA
6:15 a.m. - The first Wild PR/digital staff email hits the inbox (those in California may have still been asleep). It’s titled “No Brodin”, referring to the Wild’s second-year defenseman being left off the Swedish Olympic team. However, today Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu were named to Team Finland, bringing the total of Wild Olympians to five. You have to think Brodin is the first one to get called if a D-man for Sweden goes down due to an injury. By the way, other PR/digital staff email subject lines today - “I like Twitter”, “Best Tweet”, “Whoops”, and “No words”.
9:50 a.m. - The Wild arrives at STAPLES Center. Most players walk to arena. It’s a bit of a maze to get there today, as some roads are shut down for the People’s Choice Awards are tomorrow night. Today they held a dress rehearsal. The Kings hold their morning skates in El Segundo (where the Wild skated yesterday), so the Wild will likely go on a few minutes before 11:30. Players are big into routines, but sometimes it’s nice to get back to the hotel a few minutes early.
10:15 a.m. - We’ve got some time to kill at the arena (working in sports on gamedays is really a waiting game), so we head out on the event level to check some things out. The Lakers room is right down the hall from the Wild locker room. This is a gargantuan facility. There are three levels of suites, plus some on the lower level, and too many “VIP levels” to count. We also check out the Lakers championship banners and retired jerseys - slightly sad there’s no ode to Sid Hartman in the rafters.
10:30 a.m. - Typically, the home team would be on the ice already. However, today the ice crew is still getting the ice ready, and the nets on the ice, for the Wild’s morning skate.
11:15 a.m. - Niklas Backstrom is the first Wild player on the ice. Eventually, we learn that Backstrom would not be the starting goalie tonight. Mike Greenlay was the first to point this out when he saw Darcy Kuemper taking shots from the defensemen, once the F and D split up. That’s typical. I remember back when Jose Theodore was here, he’d like to take shots from forwards when he was starting, and it threw media into a tizzy. The reason for this? Typically goalies who are playing want to get a good feel for the puck and arena sightlines. Taking shots from defensemen at the blueline allows this to happen. Less of a chance for injury, too.
11:35 a.m. - With the team on the ice, PR guru Aaron Sickman sends an email that the Wild is loaning Matt Dumba to WHL Portland, and to stand by for an official announcement. That comes 10 minutes later, and with a story ready to go on Wild.com, it’s posted and we tweet out the official news.
12 p.m. - Morning skate is over, and players begin trickling off the ice. WildTV gets an exclusive with Erik Haula, as well as Mikael Granlund. It was a Finnesotan day on WildTV.
12:30 p.m. - The team eats lunch in the hotel. Gameday lunches are standards - buffet with soups (chicken noodle, minestrone), rice, two kinds of pasta, baked potatoes, steak, chicken, salmon, plus a large variety of salad items. Again, creatures of habit, most players eat the same thing, in the same order, each day.
4:15 p.m. - The bus arrives - again, players will walk over, but since the team flies to Phoenix immediately after the game, the bus will have player and staff bags for the drive to LAX later tonight.
6 p.m. - Media meal time. We’ll spare you a second steak picture in as many days. We’re also informed at this time that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from KISS are doing a ceremonial puck drop tonight. PR guru Aaron Sickman heads to the locker room to see which of the Wild’s three assistant captains will do the puck drop - senior member of the leadership team Ryan Suter will do the honors (we can only hope he sticks his tongue out.)
7:38 p.m. - Puck drop! No, Suter didn’t stick his tongue out, but he did get some “knucks” as my two year old calls it, from Paul Stanley.
8:16 p.m. – Wild digital/PR staff play an email game of pick the scorer in hopes of helping the Wild get on the board. Media Relations coordinator Carly Peters won when Niederreiter scores (and establishes her bragging rights when he adds the GWG in the shootout).
9:54 p.m. - We’re 150 seconds away from overtime, which begins us thinking about the long night ahead. The drive to LAX could be 20 minutes - it could also be two hours. A little more than an hour flight to Phoenix, add an hour for the time change, followed by another long drive to Glendale. Our best guess is we get into our beds between 2:30-3 a.m. Thankfully, Wild practice Wednesday isn’t until 2:30 p.m. for that very reason.
10:16 p.m. - Wild wins! What a game. Kuemper with 39 saves (was named game’s 2nd star behind Anze Kopitar), and Nino Niederreiter with a goal to force OT, then the lone goal in the shootout.
10:44 p.m. - Most of the staff is through security. We should be en route to LAX in 15 minutes or so.
11:05 p.m. - The team departs STAPLES Center for LAX.
11:26 p.m. - You never know about LA traffic, so happy to pull into LAX charter terminal only 21 minutes after leaving downtown.
11:35 p.m. - We’re not on our “normal” plane tonight - instead a regularly-configured plane (3x3 seats). That presents a variety of challenges, from a different flight kitchen, to narrower aisles, to no card table. Our flight crew did a great job getting us up in the air quickly tonight.
11:53 p.m. - Wheels up! 53-minute flight to Sky Harbor.
1:37 a.m. (mountain time) - Flight’s on time, we’re safe in Arizona. A bit of a bus ride ahead, we’ll talk to you tomorrow after the team’s practice (3:30 p.m. central time)