From a pure on-ice perspective, the Minnesota Wild hope to turn the page in 2011-12.
They traded away two 2011 All-Stars (Martin Havlat and Brent Burns) to make over their offense with volume shooter Devin Setoguchi and sniper Dany Heatley. The hope is that last season’s unusually porous defense will get at least a slight boost from under-the-radar additions such as Mike Lundin, although that seems like a long shot with Burns out of the picture. GM Chuck Fletcher’s biggest move might be in his coaching staff, however, as he fired head coach Todd Richards in favor of Mike Yeo.
As much as the franchise wants to put several unsuccessful seasons in its rear-view mirror, Monday involved some bittersweet nods to their past.
On the sad side, people will only need to look at a the team’s helmets to see that the Wild rank among the NHL’s hardest-hit teams when it comes to this summer of tragedy. The Wild will wear a commemorative “24/38” sticker on their helmets this season to honor Derek Boogaard and Pavol Demitra, two former Minnesota Wild players who died in heartbreaking ways this summer. Boogaard accidentally overdosed from a lethal mixture of painkillers and alcohol while Demtira died in the horrific Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash. Boogaard wore number 24 while Demitra donned the 38 during their days with the Wild.
Speaking of the Boogaard family, they received some promising news today: Derek’s brother Aaron signed a two-way contract with the Wild today. Minnesota picked him in the sixth round (175th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but Boogaard bounced around a bit while never playing a regular season game in the NHL. He racked up 172 penalty minutes in just 53 games with the CHL’s Laredo Bucks in 2010-11.
Aaron received two charges related to his alleged role in his brother’s death: third-degree sale of a controlled substance (a possible felony) and interfering with a death (gross misdemeanor if convicted). It’s unclear if that situation has been completely settled yet, but Michael Russo reports that he shouldn’t have visa issues.
The Wild plans to sign Aaron Boogaard to an AHL two-way contract, meaning with Houston or a lower-level team, like the East Coast or Central Hockey League. Boogaard landed in Houston this afternoon and arrived in time for the start of training camp. This has been in the works for some time but was held up due to a visa issue because of the legal trouble he’s in for allegedly giving an illegal, controlled substance to his brother, Derek, prior to his death and interfering with a scene of death.
The visa issue has since been cleared up.
“We want to give Aaron an opportunity to continue his hockey career,” Houston GM Jim Mill said. “We’re trying to help him out.”
Who knows if Aaron could ever crack an NHL lineup as an enforcer like his brother Derek, but it’s nice to hear that the Wild organization is willing to give him a chance to keep his hockey career alive after that devastating event.
The Nashville Predators boasted some appealing options to take the torch from Mike Fisher as captain, but really there was only one obvious name: Roman Josi.
Josi officially became the team’s eighth captain on Tuesday. Ryan Ellis appears to be second-in-command as “associate” captain, while they seem interested in spreading the leadership wealth around otherwise:
As captain, Josi will see an increased role on the Predators leadership team, which will also see some new appointments. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has been named as the team’s associate captain, while Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm will all serve as alternate captains. In addition, Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban and Nick Bonino have all taken positions within the leadership group.
If that’s not a sign that the team is taking this seriously – kind of amusingly so – consider that Ellis and Josi “interviewed” for the position and Peter Laviolette evoked military structures in discussing the decision, as sports teams love to do.
Josi seemed flattered when GM David Poile described him as “our Roger Federer,” a fellow Swiss sports star.
At face value, that’s great, especially since it breaks through the near-corporate-speak that saddles announcements like these.
That said, it’s funny to compare the leader in a team sport to a tennis player, among the most individualistic athletes in all of sport. There aren’t many moments of teamwork beyond doubles and rare events like the Davis Cup.
Overall, it’s another strong decision by the Predators. It’s merely fun to tease them a bit about the cornier aspects.
Hockey’s training camps and exhibition games share a lot of similarities, big-picture wise, with other sports.
As much as they’re all about evaluating players trying to make rosters and rule tweaks heading into each season, the “winners” of a pre-season may just be the teams that make it out without any significant injuries. The St. Louis Blues aren’t one of those winners.
The team announced unsettling injury updates for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forward Zach Sanford on Tuesday.
Sanford is expected to miss five-to-six months after undergoing shoulder surgery. That virtually wipes out an important season for a guy who was still trying to stake his claim to a full-time roster spot.
Bouwmeester’s situation is probably more troubling, potentially, as he’s already a key defenseman for the Blues (averaging more than 22 minutes last season, which was a slight decrease from recent work). The team announced that Bouwmeester suffered a fractured ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
As tormenting as day-to-day updates can be, “check back in three weeks” makes for even greater anxiety.
It does open up some opportunities for other players in the Blues organization, for whatever that’s worth.
This news comes shortly after the Ottawa Senators announced that Colin White will miss multiple weeks with a broken wrist.
You almost wonder if we’ll start to see fewer practice updates like these:
Bad news for the Ottawa Senators today.
The club announced Tuesday that prospect center Colin White is out six to eight weeks with a broken left wrist.
The Senators selected White 21st overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. After two years at Boston College, he signed his entry-level deal in April and appeared in two regular season games for Ottawa. He also appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game, though he only saw 2:39 of ice time.
That’s certainly disappointing for White, who could’ve had a shot to make the big club out of training camp. One of the question marks for Ottawa had been the status of fellow center Derick Brassard, who had offseason shoulder surgery with a recovery timeline of four to five months.
“I come here and worry about myself, do the right things on and off the ice, take care of my body. If I’m playing well and taking care of my game, I’ll fight for a spot,” White told the Ottawa Citizen prior to training camp.
The Vancouver Canucks dealt with some adverse conditions as they hit the ice at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai in preparation for this week’s 2017 NHL China Games exhibition series versus the L.A. Kings.
According to the pictures, it was a little on the foggy side for their practice.
Is that . . . Henrik Sedin in the distance?
The Canucks and Kings face off Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Arena, before traveling to Beijing for Saturday’s game at Wukesong Arena.
The good news? It appears the fog was lifted in time for the Kings’ practice.