Saturday, September 20, 2014

First Minnesota Wild Breakaway 10K/5K/1-mile Fun Run


Today, the Minnesota Wild hosted their first 10K/5K/1-mile fun run outside of the Xcel Energy Center. I ran in the 5K, with my sister-in-law.  Besides the races, there were people lined up outside of the X for waiting for single game tickets to go on sale this morning. (I only saw three tents set up outside yesterday when I went to pick up race stuff.) In addition to the race and single game tickets going on sale, the Wild also had scrimmages/practice open to the public from 8:30-1 pm.

The races were benefiting the Minnesota Wild Foundation. For the first race (which was announced at the beginning of August), there was a decent turn out today--and the weather was great for it! 


Start/Finish line (Courtesy of the Minnesota Wild @mnwild on twitter)


To get in the spirit of the upcoming Wild season, James Bohn sang the National Anthem and Wes Walz led the crowd with “Let’s Go Running”


Group of runners gathered for a live shot for one of the local news stations (Courtesy of the Minnesota Wild)


I managed to get some pictures while running (or trying to run, since I did suffer a minor ankle injury). Hey, I managed to finish with a time of 49:48 (yikes!!)  The other pictures featured are courtesy of the Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) on twitter.



My sister-in-law (in the green jersey) and I at the starting line

In front of the X before the start
Runners lining up
                                             
                                               
During the race


The Wild did give away prizes, such as an autographed Thomas Vanek jersey for best "costume," along with sticks for the first place finishers (along with tickets). 

Winner(s) of the autographed Thomas Vanek jersey (courtesy of the Minnesota Wild)
The Wild did also host scrimmages today, which were open to the public. I didn't go watch due to my ankle injury (which was minor, I have been icing it through out the day). The Wild's first scrimmage is Monday night against Winnipeg. 

We're getting closer to hockey season!!! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Minnesota Wild players report for training camp, updates, and what is going on with Josh Harding?



Minnesota Wild players have reported for the start of training camp today, which means three weeks until the puck drops for the 2014-15 Minnesota Wild season! (Yes, I’m a little excited for hockey season!)

First look at Thomas Vanek (#26) in a Minnesota Wild Sweater (courtesy of the Minnesota Wild)
Two weeks ago, I blogged about Nino Niederreiter and Darcy Kuemper having not been signed to new deals. Well, the Minnesota Wild announced on September 11 that they have agreed to terms on a new, three year deal with Nino Niederreiter. The St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting Nino’s new contract is for three years and $8 million. (Chad Graff, twincities.com 9/12/2014).

While I was reviewing this article to get it posted tonight, word came across Twitter that Darcy Kuemper and the Wild agreed to a new deal. It looks like it’s a two year (one way) deal, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. So, I had to hastily re-write this article. Kuemper will be reporting to training camp in the morning.  Ilya Bryzgolav will still be reporting to training camp with the Wild on a tryout (according to Star Tribune columnist Michael Russo). 

I was originally going to post how the Wild’s goaltending situation was going to be a huge question mark going into camp with it having been announced on Wednesday that Josh Harding is going to be out for an indefinite period of time after having fractured his right foot on Sunday. It has been reported that Harding’s injury is not going to require surgery. However, Harding’s going to miss significant time again. As I was writing this, Michael Russo posted this on Twitter:

(Courtesy of Michael Russo, @Russostrib, twitter)

This won't be the first time the Wild has suspended a player over an injury that wasn't hockey related. The Wild suspended James Sheppard prior to the start of the 2010 season after he injured his knee in an ATV accident. So, how long Harding will be suspended for remains to be seen. 

The Wild are holding an open practice on Saturday, along with the inaugural Minnesota Wild Breakaway 10k/5k/1-mile fun run. I will be running in the 5k. I will have some pictures of the races for a future blog. 

Twenty one days until the start of the 2014-15 Minnesota Wild season....




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bob Suter, Ryan Suter's dad and member of "Miracle on Ice" 1980 Olympic Hockey Team, died at 57


Today has been a sad day for the USA hockey community upon the news of Bob Suter, father of Minnesota Wild Defenseman Ryan Suter and member of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 Olympic Hockey team, passing away suddenly today at the age of 57 in Madison, WI. He was also the older brother of Gary Suter, who played 16 years in the NHL and was a member of the 2002 Olympic hockey team that won silver at Salt Lake City.

 I first saw the news about Mr. Suter’s passing this afternoon on Twitter, first reading about it as “Ryan Suter’s dad passed away.” I didn’t realize that it was THAT Bob Suter from the Miracle on Ice Olympic hockey team until later this afternoon after seeing some of the tributes on my personal twitter feed. (I was only 2 ½ when USA beat the Soviet Union in one of the greatest hockey games ever).




                                         
                                     One of many tweets about Bob Suter 
                                     (Courtesy of Twitter.com)

Before playing in the 1980 Olympics where he would help Team USA win a gold medal, Bob Suter played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin—where he played on the 1976-77 team that won the NCAA championship. After his playing days, he returned to Madison, WI and became very involved in youth hockey with coaching, opening a sporting goods store and becoming part-owner and director of Capital Ice Arena in Middleton, WI. (NHL.com). Recently, he had done scouting work for the Minnesota Wild. 

His Olympic team mate Mark Johnson (head coach of the University of Wisconsin Women’s Hockey Team) gave this statement that appeared on NHL.com today:

    We are all stunned…Everyone is shocked. It's a sad day for not only the community of Madison but the hockey community who knew Bob and all of the players who he touched and who he gave an opportunity to play hockey and climb up the ladder."


                               
Bob Suter on the ice during the 1980 Olympic Games in 
 Lake Placid, NY.  



                                      
                                      
Bob and Ryan Suter, with their respective gold medals.
(Ryan was a member of the 2004 US Juniors team that 
won gold in Helsinki, Finland)

While I have never met Bob Suter in person. As a hockey fan, I want to say thank you to him for all that he has done for hockey. My condolences go out to his son, Ryan, and to the rest of the Suter family during this unbelievably difficult time. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Training Camp starts September 18—Nino Niederreiter and Darcy Kuemper are still unsigned. Is this something to be worried about?

The Labor Day weekend has passed, kids are back in school. That means one thing—we’re getting closer to hockey season! Yes, you read that right, I said hockey season.

With training camp fast approaching for the Minnesota Wild (and the rest of the NHL), is it an issue that Nino Niederreiter and Darcy Kuemper are still unsigned at this point? It depends on who you ask. I think it’s more of an issue that Nino Niederreiter hasn’t inked a new deal rather than Darcy Kuemper not having signed yet.

This is why I say Nino not being signed is a bigger deal. Nino is considered to be a “building block” for the Wild. He had a breakthrough year in his young career with the Wild this past season, while scoring 14 goals, along with dishing out 22 assists during the regular season (and scoring 3 goals—including the series winner against the Avalanche in round one of the play-offs—along with 3 assists during 13 play-off games). He’s a big body on the ice. Nino showed that, having been paired with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle in the play-offs. Nino made this statement in an interview shortly after the play-offs ended:

It's exciting…I ended up playing with Chuck and Mikko and gave me, kind of a feeling that that's where I want to be next year. Definitely, that's my goal and that's what I'm looking for. I will do everything it takes to be in that spot next year, and I feel that's great motivation to push myself this summer." (Niederreiter becomes building block in Minnesota, Brian Hall, fsnorth.com, 6/3/2014)

I mentioned that he had a breakthrough year last season. He didn’t have much opportunity to play in the NHL when he was with the Islanders. He spent all of the 2013 season in the minors and the Islanders didn’t call him up at all. When he was traded to the Wild before last season for Cal Clutterbuck and a draft pick, Nino was given a fresh start in the NHL and he was able to build up his confidence, along with working his way into a being a constant in the Wild’s line up. Yes, there’s been times where he’s been inconsistent. He’s still growing as a player and he is aware of the areas he needs to improve on.

(photo courtesy of rantsports.com)

It’s a very interesting situation with Nino having not signed a new deal yet—and it could set up an interesting scenario. At the end of the 2014-2015 season, Erik Haula, Mikael Grandlund, and Charlie Coyle all become restricted free agents. Michael Russo of the Star Tribune stated in his last article that “(Wild GM Chuck) Fletcher feels he has to get the Niederreiter deal right or it’ll affect the others.” (Startribune.com 9/2/2014)

The Wild already have quite the interesting situation with the goaltending. They had quite the goalie carousel last year, having used five goalies (Josh Harding, Niklas Backstrom, Kuemper, John Curry, and Ilya Bryzgolav). Harding and Backstrom are both signed (in my previous post, there is the question on whether or not Backstrom has a future with the Wild). John Curry has signed a new one year, two-way deal. The Wild also have Johan Gustafsson in their system. Would it be nice if Kuemper signed a new deal? Yes, because if the Wild were to move Niklas Backstrom, they could go with the tandem of Harding and Kuemper (providing Harding stays healthy this upcoming season and doesn’t miss most of the season). There have been times where Kuemper has been inconsistent, but the same thing can be said about him as I stated about Nino, Kuemper’s young and there are areas of his game that he can definitely improve on.

I think that both Kuemper and Nino will eventually sign new deals. It will probably happen after the start of training camp. The Wild aren’t the only team out there who have restricted free agents that haven’t signed new deals yet going into the start of training camp. Nino’s deal is probably going to be watched closely, due to the impact it could have on other Wild players next summer.

On a totally unrelated note: the Minnesota Wild will be having their first Breakway 10k/5k/1 mile fun run on September 20, benefiting the Minnesota Wild Foundation. I will be running in the 5k, along with some friends. Hopefully I will have some pictures to post in a future blog.

Important Dates for the Wild:

September 18: Players are due to report to training camp
September 19: First on ice practice
September 20: Single game tickets go on sale, first Minnesota Wild Breakaway 10k/5k/1 mile fun run
October 9: Home and season opener against the Colorado Avalanche.