Author Archives: minnwild

Wild Signs Gillies to Two-Year Contract

The news keeps on coming from the Minnesota Wild Hockey Operations department, with the latest announcement made at lunchtime Wednesday: the Wild has signed restricted free agent Colton Gillies to a two-year contract.

The 22-year-old left wing was a major factor in the Houston Aeros’ run to the Calder Cup Finals this spring. He tied the team lead with seven playoff goals and ranked third on the club with 12 points (7-5=12) in 24 playoff games. The 6-4, 208-pound winger posted 26 points (11-15=26) and 82 penalty minutes in 64 regular season games with the Aeros in 2010-11.

Gillies also played seven games with the Wild, scoring one goal, a tally in the Wild’s 5-3 win over Dallas in the season finale. For the first time in his Wild career, he has not been asked to skate in this July’s Wild Development Camp for prospects. Gillies will come into this fall’s training camp looking to stay with the big club, having previously skated 45 games with the Wild in the 2008-09 season, recording seven points (2-5=7). The native of White Rock, B.C., was Minnesota’s first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Wild Signs Powe, Taffe; “Becoming Wild” Premieres July 8

Good afternoon, Wild fans!

There was plenty of big Wild news over the 4th of July holiday and there continued to be more announcements today. OK, so maybe today’s news isn’t quite at “blockbuster” level like the trade Sunday night, but there is certainly plenty of cool stuff to tell you about.

Firstly, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher announced this afternoon that the Wild has signed center Darroll Powe to a three-year contract and center Jeff Taffe to a one-year, two-way contract.  You’ll remember, the Wild acquired the 26-year-old Powe from Philadelphia for a 2013 third-round draft pick on June 27 and held his rights as a restricted free agent. He registered 17 points (7-10=17) and 41 PIM in 81 games for Philly last season, leading the Flyers with 196 hits and setting career highs in assists and points. The Saskatoon, Sask., native played three NHL seasons with the Flyers after signing as a free agent out of Princeton University. It was also announced that Powe will wear No. 14 with the Wild. Hear what Powe had to say about the contract here.

Many Minnesota hockey fans remember Taffe, the former Golden Gopher from Hastings. The 30-year-old notched 67 points (30-37=67) in 74 games for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs last season, skating in one game with the Chicago Blackhawks. The 1999 Mr. Hockey Minnesota has posted 44 points in 175 NHL games with Phoenix, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Florida and Chicago. Stay up to date with all of the Wild signings on the transactions page and contract chart on wild.com

Of course, many fans are still talking about the trade the Wild made Sunday night with San Jose, acquiring Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. If you were too busy having picnics and lighting fireworks to get all of the details on the deal, click here for audio, video and more. The Hockey Lodge also sent over the first photo of Heatley’s new Wild jersey, which is currently available at the Xcel Energy Center Hockey Lodge location and is available for pre-orders on hockeylodge.com. It’ll take some time to get used to the new names on the No. 10 and 15 jerseys, but there have been plenty of fans making us aware that they are excited to see the former Sharks skate with the Wild.

Secondly, the Wild also announced today that it has named John Torchetti as new head coach of the Houston Aeros. Torchetti fills the spot of Mike Yeo, who of course left Houston to become the new Wild head coach. The 46-year-old Boston native comes to the Aeros after serving as an associate coach for the Atlanta Thrashers last season. His 27 years of professional hockey experience as a player, coach and manager include NHL coaching experience with Tampa Bay, Florida, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta. For the full announcement and audio of Torchetti’s reaction to the announcement, click here.

Finally, the Wild announced a really cool project with FOX Sports North and Olson that I’d bet Wild fans will love. “Becoming Wild,” presented by Toyota, is a six-part TV series that documents the Wild offseason through unprecedented, behind-the-scenes coverage of the hockey operations department. I’d say it’s similar to the NHL’s 24-7 series on HBO this year. One of the best parts about the series, which will premiere on July 8 after the Twins game on FS North, is that filming started before any of this summer’s excitement and drama happened, meaning it was caught on camera and fans will get to see it. For more on the series, including broadcast dates and clips of the premiere episode, click here. Outtakes and full episodes will be available on wild.com after the premiere of that episode airs on FS North. I was lucky enough to get to watch the first episode, which covers the Aeros run to the Calder Cup Finals, and will tell you two things: 1. I don’t know how anyone will watch the episode and not be incredibly excited to see Mike Yeo coach the Wild and 2. While the coaches-healthy scratches scrimmage is a great scene, not all of the best parts are given away in the preview clips. There’s a Matt Kassian vs. the rest of the team discussion about whether he could fight Manny Pacquiao that could well be a fan favorite.

Wild Signs Powe, Extends Qualifying Offers To Seven Players

Evening, State of Hockey legion. All of us here in Wild land are recovering from the very busy weekend that was the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild has been in preparations for nearly two years and I think it’s safe to say the big event was a huge success. The organization was thrilled with this weekend’s events, especially all of the fans who came to St. Paul to showcase their love of hockey, including the more than 17,000 that attended the Draft Friday and Saturday.

There was certainly plenty of excitement during the two days of the Entry Draft, much of that coming from the hometown team. Click here for the Wild’s Draft Central page, which has stories and video from Wild management and some of the top selections in the Draft. Additionally, Wild radio’s Kevin Falness today spoke to Charlie Coyle, who was a big part of Minnesota’s first-round trade Friday night. Click here to listen to the interview and hear Coyle’s wicked Boston accent.

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft might now be over, but that doesn’t mean the Wild Hockey Operations department is taking a rest. In fact, the Wild made another trade today, acquiring 26-year-old forward Darroll Powe from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Powe is considered a physical player who totaled 17 points (7-10=17) while leading the Flyers with 196 hits this past season. Click here to read the wild.com write up on the trade and here to listen to Powe’s reaction.

The guys in Hockey Ops weren’t done yet, and also used the day to extend qualifying offers to seven players: Justin Falk, Colton Gillies, Jarod Palmer, Jeff Penner, Darroll Powe, James Sheppard and Casey Wellman. The Wild did not tender a qualifying offer to Patrick O’Sullivan.

There isn’t much rest for the weary as the Wild decide whether to sign restricted free agents this week and then jump into the free agency pool starting Friday. Plenty of action to come, hockey fans!

Wild Can Play Spoilers; UMD Afterglow

Good afternoon State of Hockey Legion,

Just a quick post from the Xcel Energy Center press box before fans start filing into the arena for tonight’s game against the hated Dallas Stars.

Well, we got what we were hoping for: The Blackhawks did in fact lose in regulation to Detroit in Chicago this afternoon, so tonight’s Wild game will have plenty of meaning behind it. Both teams in St. Paul will be skating with some extra jump in their stride tonight because the outcome will decide the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference. Blackhawks Nation will be rooting for your Minnesota Wild because if Dallas earns two points, it will overtake Chicago for the final playoff spot. It will be the same Wild lineup tonight as it was for Friday’s game in Edmonton with Jose Theodore getting the start in net.

An interesting side note that was just pointed out to me by Mike Russo of the Star Tribune: Since Dallas needs to get two points tonight, and not just one, imagine if the game went to OT. We might very well see a goalie getting pulled in OT. And, because of a weird NHL rule, if the Wild won, Dallas would come away with zero points in the game. If you pull your goalie in OT and end up losing, you don’t get the one consolation point. Obviously, Dallas doesn’t care about one – two is the only number on their mind tonight. Still, it will be something interesting to watch for if this contest in fact goes past regulation.

As I wrote in today’s wild.com game preview, this game means plenty to the Wild. Yes, they want to make the home crowd happy. Yes, they want to close a disappointing end to the season with back-to-back wins. But perhaps most importantly, they want to play spoilers. Some Minnesota fans might still dislike the Stars after they moved to Dallas, but the Wild dislikes its six-game winless streak against the Stars and how chippy many of the recent contests between the two teams have been.

Fans should be clamoring to come down to St. Paul not only to root on the Wild’s attempt to play spoilers, but for the awesome posters that will be the free giveaway at tonight’s game. They look pretty slick and should quickly become the favorite wall decoration of all Wild fans.

Of course, no Lighthouse would be complete without a UMD mention (that’s a rule if you work for Glen, didn’t you know?) Obviously, the Dogs are the talk of college hockey after topping the University of Michigan last night here in this very building. It was a pretty cool scene to see the crowd and Bulldogs go crazy when the deciding goal was scored in OT. I haven’t seen Glen yet today, but I have to imagine he is still rocking a massive smile. No word on if he kept his promise of jumping in the Holiday Inn pool fully clothed after the Dogs first National Championship, but if he hasn’t, we might have to have some Wild TV fun tomorrow.

Go Wild!

Wild Smiles; Blueline Questions

4 p.m. Update: The Wild has indeed made a call to Houston, recalling defensemen Justin Falk and Maxim Noreau from the Aeros.

TGIF, Wild fans! Fridays are always fun, but even more so after a Wild victory.

I know I’ve spent the past few days talking about how the Wild’s barely celebrated the end of its winless streak, but the scene in the locker room today was a lot more fun. Kyle Brodziak and James Sheppard deserve gold stars for their turns at running the locker room iPod. I want to leave most of the details in the room, so I’ll just say some stellar 80′s and 90′s hits caused plenty of jokes and fun. It was great to see the guys smiling and enjoying themselves because they deserve to let off a little steam with two straight wins after such a stressful and difficult stretch which must have tested their pride.

Not much news was expected out of the Wild’s short practice at Xcel Energy Center late this morning but unfortunately, there was plenty of not-so-good surprises. Marek Zidlicky and Nick Schultz both missed the skate with injuries and Head Coach Todd Richards said afterward that they are questionable for tomorrow’s game. Cam Barker continued to practice with the team but will again be questionable to get back into the lineup. Making matters worse, Brent Burns left the ice and is now questionable for tomorrow’s game after a very innocent-looking and weird play in practice.

In a simple drill where players line up, take a pass mid-ice and go in to shoot, Burns seemed to lose his footing all alone at center ice, with one of his skates slipping out underneath him. It looked like absolutely nothing until Burns remained down on ice, stretching out his leg before skating to the bench and walking down the runway with a look of pain on his face. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, unless Todd Richards was in on it, too, saying Burns is now a question mark for tomorrow.

With four defensemen questionable for tomorrow’s early afternoon game, the Wild is likely to recall a few blueliners from Houston. Richards said Backstrom will start against the Lightning, who clinched a playoff spot with a win against Pittsburgh yesterday, and Theodore will get the nod in Detroit Sunday. A sidenote: did you see Backs’ awesome toe save last night? You’ll want to watch it over and over.

Listen to Richards’ comments after practice in today’s Minnesota Wild PONDcast.

With tomorrow’s game six hours earlier than the typical contest, I asked Matt Cullen and Jared Spurgeon about how the change will impact their day. A 1 p.m. start means the usual morning skate won’t be an option for the players. Cullen said his day will just start earlier than normal, that he’ll stick to the same schedule and just push everything up. Cullen said he’ll get up early, try to get outside and get his body moving and will probably end up having an extra cup of coffee.

On the other hand, Jared Spurgeon plans to sleep in and try to eat as big a breakfast as possible since he won’t be having two meals before the game. However, both players were on the same page when it came to their plans for the rink.  To those two at least, it doesn’t matter when the game starts, they’ll just back track from the time of puck drop and do their typical tasks in the arena, getting to the Xcel Energy Center with the same amount of time to prepare as usual.

Glen will be back from Florida and is planning on making his return to live,  in-game commentary tomorrow, so you can count on a high level of wit returning to wild.com. No jokin’.

Have a great Friday afternoon!