No hockey player enjoys it, but it’s something most have to do at some point in their career: participate in a morning skate even though they’re a healthy scratch for the night’s contest.
That was the case for Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser as he walked into Xcel Energy Center this morning. Skate hard, be a good teammate and prepare like he was going to play, even though he wasn’t going to be in the lineup.
However, things quickly changed as soon as he arrived in the team’s locker room. Prosser saw that two defensemen who were expected to play, Christian Folin and Keith Ballard, were both sick. Prosser would be in penciled into the Wild lineup as the team hosts the Arizona Coyotes.
"I walked in and saw a couple guys were sick; I didn’t know if they’d be playing. I was preparing like I would every day,” Prosser said. “My number’s called, so I’ve got to play my A-game.”
The on-call defenseman is not an easy role, but something Prosser knows he has to play. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo knows that when his number is called, the blueliner will be ready. It’s a valuable asset to have a player that’s ready at the drop of the hat.
“Reliability in general is what I like about him,” Yeo said yesterday. “He’s very dependable in the sense that we know what we’re going to get from him night after night and we can trust in his game.”
You can trust that Prosser will be primed for tonight’s game, the Elk River native’s first in the State of Hockey since Game 6 of last year’s playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche. He’ll be partnered with Matt Dumba, who also was not expected to be in the lineup tonight.
Yesterday, forward Charlie Coyle signed a five-year extension with the Wild. Today Yeo and his teammates reacted to the news.
“It’s important for us,” forward Zach Parise said. “For him, he’s got that comfort of not worrying about that in the offseason and just go out there and just play. From a team standpoint, Charlie is a really good player and he’s only going to get better. You don’t find guys with that size, skill and skating ability; they don’t come around that often.
“There’s another guy and hopefully we can get him soon also and we’ll be all set for a little while.”
Parise, of course, was referring to his linemate Mikael Granlund, who is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Yeo likes that players are committed to playing in Minnesota and locking down a young nucleus of developing players including Jonas Brodin, who signed an extension on Oct. 12, and Nino Niederreiter, who signed during the summer.
“It starts with a guy like Mikko (Koivu), then Zach and Sutes (Ryan Suter) and Pommer (Jason Pominville),” Yeo said. “These young guys are such an important part of our core group…we’re really excited to lock these guys up.
“It’s a group that wants to play hard for each other, and with each other and has confidence within each other. (Coyle) is a big part of that.”
Hockey Fights Cancer Night
Tonight, the Wild hosts Hockey Fight’s Cancer Night, the League’s month-long initiative to raise funds and cancer awareness. The fight against cancer is something we all have in common, as forms of the disease have affected everyone in some way or shape. Fans in attendance will receive an “I Fight For” placard as they arrive and are encouraged to write for whom they fight cancer. During the second timeout in the second period fans will raise HFC placards to show whom they fight for, and will be aired on the Xcel Energy Center video board as well as live on the FOX Sports North broadcast.
“It’s something that affects just about everyone–it affects me personally,” Prosser said. “It’s a scary subject that everyone should be aware of and I love the NHL is taking action and raising money and raising awareness.”
Becoming Wild Goes To Finland
The series “Becoming Wild,” presented by Toyota, continues tonight and will go to Finland to follow a day in the life of Wild center Mikael Granlund. The episode will air after tonight’s contest.