Minnesota hunting cap

The Wild had a very Minnesota-like giveaway last night


Stereotypes can often get people into trouble so we’ll dance carefully around that when we say the Minnesota Wild’s fan giveaway last night was rather… Locally unique. Minnesota fans got to take home blaze orange Wild baseball caps last night that helped make the crowd look more like a lost hunting party than a pack of hockey fans.

The caps from Gander Mountain, a company specializing in outdoor clothing, helped Wild fans fulfill a special Minnesota-brand of stereotype that while they love hockey, they’d happily take up the rod and reel or rifle on a weekend away.

Take a look at how these bad boys stand out in the crowd in these highlights from last night’s game against Pittsburgh.

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We’re hoping that more teams will do locally creative giveaways like this. Bring us “Cheesesteak Night” in Philly, a car giveaway in Detroit (aim high, people), a “Date with a Hollywood star” in Los Angeles (ladies, here’s your chance to land Jon Hamm), or even “Pet a Panther” night in Florida.

Of course, they could have that happen accidentally in Ohio these days. Let’s just skip that one.

It’s a cool thing the Wild did in giving away something that both works for the hunter in your family as well as kids who are really fired up for Halloween. Blaze orange hasn’t been this fun since the 1990s or so noticeable since last hunting season.

(Photo courtesy of Wild PR guru Ryan Stanzel on Twitter)

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.