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.