The Minnesota Wild held their Tuesday morning practice at Xcel Energy Center today, but it didn’t exactly feel like home in there. To get ready for the Frozen Four, every advertisement has been removed from the boards. There’s not a Wild logo to be found in the entire arena bowl.
The college kids are coming in starting today, and following tomorrow morning’s practice, the Wild will hand over the keys to the NCAA. I heard a rumor that the UMD Bulldogs are one of the teams that will be at the tournament this weekend. Isn’t that nice?
What will be most interesting will be to see if any of the four participating teams have a higher shooting percentage than those basketball teams that played last night in Houston.
Several of the Wild coaches have a rooting interest in this weekend’s activities. Goaltending coach Bob Mason is a former Bulldog, while Assistant Coach Rick Wilson is a former North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Head Coach Todd Richards is a former Gopher, but he made it clear he will not be pulling for UND this weekend.
Eric Nystrom will be pulling for his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Nystrom played in two Frozen Fours, including his freshman season in 2002 when the Wolverines fell to the Gophers in the semifinals.
The one and only Kevin Falness, who will be filling in for Bob Kurtz on the play-by-play duties for the next two Wild games, spoke to several of the key players for this weekend’s games. The Connolly brothers from different mothers of UMD can be heard here. Wild prospect Sean Lorenz, who will face UMD as a member of Notre Dame, can be heard here. Legendary Michigan head coach Red Berenson can be heard here. And while I’m pretty sure there aren’t any UND fans out there, just for kicks, I’ll put Kevin’s interview with Chay Genoway on here.
As for the Wild, there were a lot of bodies missing today due to injuries. Martin Havlat (upper body), Cal Clutterbuck (upper body), Jose Theodore (lower body), Cam Barker (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse (abdominal), Marek Zidlicky (lower body), Nick Schultz (concussion) and John Madden (lower body) were all sitting out.
Josh Harding was the other goalie on the ice, but Richards said not to expect him to play this season. Hear what the Head Coach told the media after today’s practice here.
That’s about it for the on-ice news. There is expected to be some off-ice news later this afternoon regarding a Wild business-related announcement. Stay tuned to Wild.com for those details.