It’s been a fun day at Xcel Energy Center on day one of training camp. The stuff on the ice wasn’t been the most entertaining production, just because it’s was mostly skating drills and two-on-ones.
The fun stuff mostly happened before anyone took the ice when Plymouth’s Peter Best finally got the chance to present Niklas Backstrom with a newly designed mask. Peter’s a great story, and you can read more about him here. Peter lost his dad in May, right at the time he was working on his design. Today, he was all smiles, and so was Nik, who especially seemed to love the huge Finnish flag on the back of the mask.
Not to be outdone, Josh Harding debuted his brand new mask (created by Todd Miska, who also painted Peter’s design on Backstrom’s mask). With the year 10 celebration coming up, Harding paid homage to the masks of other current and former Wild goaltenders. Coincidentally, there have been a total of 10 goalies to play at least one game for the Wild, and Harding didn’t want any left off. Masks that belonged to Backstrom, Manny Fernandez, Dwayne Roloson, Anton Khudobin, Wade Dubielewicz, Jamie McLennan and even Dieter Kochan and Derek Gustafson were represented.
Photos of that mask will be posted later on Wild.com.
As for on-ice news, there’s not a lot. Todd Richards hadn’t heard any word on how Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s visit to a Denver neurologist went. Bouchard and James Sheppard obviously did not to skate. Marek Zidlicky was the only unexpected absence today. He was dealing with a tight hamstring so he was held out of skating. Todd Richards made it sound as if this won’t be much of an issue, but they’ll have another look tomorrow to see how things have progressed.
How about a couple former Wild players in other camps? Apparently, Brian Rolston left the ice today after 15 minutes with an undisclosed injury, and Marian Gaborik missed yesterday with a sore back.
In the first session, Antti Miettinen took his familiar spot alongside Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette. Cal Clutterbuck was skating with John Madden and Chuck Kobasew. Warren Peters was between Colton Gillies and Casey Wellman. Carson McMillan centered Petr Kalus and Jon DiSalvatore.
The second group not surprisingly had Matt Cullen on a line with Guillaume Latendresse and Martin Havlat. “I was surprised how fast Matt Cullen was,” said Richards.
Kyle Brodziak was in the middle of Eric Nystrom and Brad Staubitz. Cody Almond centered Robbie Earl and Jarod Palmer. The final line seemed to be a mish-mash of Joel Broda, Matt Kassian, Chad Rau, Jean-Michel Daoust and Brett Bulmer.
It’s always tough to tell who looks good when the team is just running through drills over and over. But there was a lot of chatter, and spirits are high as they normally are this time of year. Even Mike Russo of the Star Tribune is relaxed. I haven’t seen him inhale one cup of coffee yet.
Tomorrow should be a lot more fun to watch as the teams play a scrimmage at 10:30 that will be open to the public. As a reminder, the scrimmage will be streamed live on Wild.com and will be hosted by Kevin Falness. He’ll have several guests during the broadcast so there will be plenty of hockey talk.