While the hockey world awaits the ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association, the Minnesota Wild players held their second unofficial team skate.
Joining the fray today were forwards Mikael Granlund and Torrey Mitchell. As many of you already know, Granlund, the Wild’s first-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has spent the start of the season with the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate. The Finnish forward spoke with the media after the skate and talked about the benefits of getting some games under his belt during the lockout and the anticipation of making his NHL debut. WildTV captured Granlund’s entire media scrum.
Mitchell, who signed as a free agent with the Wild on July 1, is a smooth skating, right-hander that can play center or wing, and will help out on the penalty kill unit. During the lockout, Mitchell skated with the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL. Mitchell told the PONDcast that a former teammate with the San Jose Sharks, Ryane Clowe, is coaching the Bulls and convinced him to play for the team. He will add depth to the club’s lineup, something the team desperately needed, as a string of injuries derailed the Wild’s second-half last season.
Today’s Wild’s practice took on a similar vein as yesterday, but with a light conditioning skate at the end of practice. Despite a four-month layoff for many of the players, the second practice was crisp. As documented, many were skating together in Minnesota, which could have a positive impact on getting off to a good start in a compacted schedule. Cal Clutterbuck spoke to WildTV about the things he missed most during the lockout and the club’s expectations coming into the season. WildTV also caught up with defenseman Justin Falk, who talked about the leadership of Ryan Suter and how his addition will quickly pay dividends among the team’s young blue line.
Wild Captain Mikko Koivu and forward Dany Heatley are expected to arrive in the State of Hockey today, so they could be joining the team for practice tomorrow.
As we all wait for the ratification of the CBA, it’s hard not to speculate about the season schedule and what it will look like. Several media members are guessing that the season will be either 48 or 50 games, all within the teams’ respective conference. Two potential restart days being thrown around are Tuesday, Jan. 15 or Saturday, Jan. 19, with the latter looking more likely. If that’s the case, the NHL season will kick start on Hockey Day Minnesota. What better way to celebrate the return of the NHL?