Wild head coach Mike Yeo visited the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday, a sign for Yeo that hockey will soon be back on the schedule.
Yeo conducted interviews with various local media outlets throughout the day, also getting a chance to meet some Wild fans while soaking in the first day of the Fair.
“The State Fair … school starts, the State Fair is here, and you just know that hockey season is right around the corner,” Yeo said. “More than anything, it’s all pretty slow, and it starts to build a little bit right now, but for the most part, it’s all pretty slow until that first day of [training] camp, and then it’s just a bit of a firestorm the way it gets going.”
At each interview location, Yeo was greeted by a crowd of Wild fans, some seeking autographs, others asking for photos, and a few simply wishing him “good luck” on the upcoming season.
“I get the opportunity to try to rehearse some lines so to speak,” Yeo said of his media sessions. “Obviously in the summer there’s a different intensity to how you think about things, and certainly you never shut it off completely, but for sure to kind get the brain turned back on and start thinking about these things again, it’s a chance to start getting ready.”
It also offered a different question-and-answer setting than what Yeo is accustomed to.
“Most of the time you’re doing interviews you don’t have an audience except the people that are holding the microphone up to your face,” Yeo said. “It’s different, but at the same time its’ nice to be out. A lot of good interaction with the fans, and that’s one thing I love about Minnesota: It’s a place where people will recognize you, and approach you, but they’re always so nice and respectful, so it’s always a lot of fun.”
With players reporting on Sept. 17, and training camp practices beginning the next day, Yeo said Thursday provided a good mixture of an enjoyable summer activity and inching one step closer to training camp.
“Players always start to come in this time of year, so that’s when you know you’re close,” Yeo said. “As coaches, you’re ready — we’ve been ready for a long time — so it’s just a matter of us sitting around, waiting for that date to come … when we can finally get going. It’s exciting, and again, just because the players are here we know it’s right around the corner.”
Four former University of Minnesota Gophers were able to bask in the sunshine on TCF Bank Stadium's field.
"It's something I'm really looking forward to," Jordan Schroeder said. "It's got a special place in my heart, obviously, being here at the University of Minnesota, where I went and played. I can't stop smiling right now."
Schroeder wasn't the only one to feel the nostalgia of being back at the U.
"I've played in two of these before — they were both special and something you'll remember forever," Thomas Vanek said. "For me, it's extra special being back on campus, where I played for the U, especially in a venue like this, TCF Bank Stadium, it's going to be fun."
Zach Parise, like other Minnesotans in attendance yesterday at TCF Bank Stadium, was a proud native son when asked about the Wild hosting a 2016 Stadium Series game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Growing up here, it’s kind of in the culture,” Parise said. “It’s going to be special for everybody.”
Also joining Parise on the Golden Gophers football field was Wild Owner/Chairman Craig Leipold and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who communicated together regularly over the past few years to make this event a reality.
Watch Leipold (below) and Bettman (bottom) share their thoughts on the rivalry between the two teams and how important the alumni component of the event is.
And like Bettman said when asked about the outdoor game in Minnesota, “Where better to play a game than the State of Hockey?”
Wild prospect Louie Belpedio will continue to represent Team USA on the blue line at the National Junior Evaluation Camp as two fellow participants from July’s development camp at Xcel Energy Center move on from the action.
NHL.com provides more details on each of their situations:
The Wild also have representatives on the two European teams taking part in the camp. Forward Joel Eriksson Ek and defenseman Gustav Bouramman are part of the team from Sweden and goalie Kaapo Kahkonen is suiting up for Finland as each player attempts to earn a spot on their country’s respective squad for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The tournament will be held in Helsinki between Dec. 26 and Jan. 5, 2016.
Defenseman Ryan Suter woke up early Saturday morning knowing he was about to log some serious time on his skates for an extremely important cause.
The blueliner, known for devouring quality minutes on the ice for the Minnesota Wild, arrived in Saint Paul with family and friends, to participate in the inline skating portion of the RBC Race for the Kids Minnesota Half Marathon, benefitting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Upper Midwest.
“The race was fun,” Suter said. “We had a great time…we’re supporting a great charity that helps kids and that is what it is all about. My dad used to say, ‘It’s all about the kids,’ and we’re just trying to carry on his legacy.”
Ryan and his wife Becky, who has recently joined the board for the charity, are carrying on that legacy by becoming major contributors to the Ronald McDonald House, providing star power and behind-the-scenes work that has enabled this event to grow.
This year’s participants totaled more than 3,000 people and based off registrations and fundraising from that group, the charity has reached their goal of raising $60,000 from the race.
“All of the money that is raised here today goes directly to our families,” said Terra Peterson, manager of community fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Upper Midwest. “I think everybody at the House feels humbled by the opportunity to get our name out there and raise support for our families that we are so honored to serve.”
Reaching this year’s monetary goal equates to 600 nights of lodging, including food and programming, that are completely covered for families persevering through a child’s serious illness.
“It’s a good organization and it helps a lot of kids and their families,” Suter said. “If your kid is in the hospital it’s hard on a family and the Ronald McDonald house makes it easier.”
The Suters will continue to support the cause and encourage our fans to join them in their efforts moving forward. And remember, you have plenty of time to start training for next year’s races.
Minnesota Wild players Thomas Vanek, Ryan Carter and Nate Prosser are always VIP’s when they head into the Xcel Energy Center, but as VIP attendees at the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s 15th Annual “So the World May Hear” gala, next door at Saint Paul RiverCentre, they walked the red carpet instead of lacing up their skates.
The Wild teammates joined a star-studded cast of celebrities including the likes of pop star Katy Perry, Kiss’ Gene Simmons, Evander Holyfield, Lou Ferrigno and “Orange Is the New Black” star Dacha Polanco. The guest list included current and former athletes, musicians, actors and dignitaries who made the trip to Saint Paul for an evening that showcased the tremendous impact of reflecting, caring and sharing to the lives of others.
They also took part in celebrating the philanthropic efforts of attendee George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, who was among those recognized as an event Honoree.
Perry headlined the multiple musical performances of the evening and the Foundation continued its approach of using hearing as a vehicle to change lives around the world.
Learn more about the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
While vendors showcased their new products for NHL teams on the floor of Xcel Energy Center, 10-year old Jalen got a sweet surprise from the league, Minnesota Wild and Cheerful Givers.
Cheerful Givers provide toy-filled birthday gift bags to children in poverty throughout the State Of Hockey. As part of the NHL Legacy event, the NHL and Wild provided gifts to Jalen, who turned 10 in July.
After the event, Wild.com caught up with Executive Director of the Minnesota Wild Foundation, Rachel Schuldt for more about today and a look ahead to the 2015-16 season.
The Minnesota Wild took steps towards a greener State Of Hockey on Tuesday morning.
More than 40 staff members from various departments met in Lilydale Regional Park along a half-mile stretch of the Mississippi River in Saint Paul to help keep Minnesota beautiful.
“We’ve got to take care of our beautiful lakes and rivers,” said Kate Setley, Director of Event Management and Marketing at Saint Paul RiverCentre, Xcel Energy Center. “Water is such a part of Minnesota. We love the community that supports the Minnesota Wild and all of our venues, so today we are picking up trash, making things cleaner and taking care of our environment.”
Three Wild prospects, defenseman Louie Belpedio and forwards Alex Tuch and Jordan Greenway, were recently named to the roster for USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp, taking place in Lake Placid, N.Y. from Aug. 1-8.
On the heels of completing Wild Development Camp at Xcel Energy Center last week, this opportunity allows the Wild prospects an immediate chance to display what they learned during their week together in the State of Hockey.
Brad Bombardir, the Wild’s Director of Player Development, knows a critical trait he expects to see in these players – no matter where they are training or playing – is a dedicated, professional work ethic.
“[There is a level] of honesty in the work that has to be done to give yourself an opportunity to play at the next level,” said Bombardir. “There’s a whole other level of work ethic that has to be done if you want to play in the National Hockey League and we tried to instill that in them.”
Over the course of Development Camp attention was focused on different areas that require extra effort to make the jump, including proper nutrition, enhanced power skating, and a diversified approach to strength training that must incorporate on-ice body movements and burst.
Kirk Olson, Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Wild, spent Development Camp leading the young men through specific off-ice warm-ups and exercises. Olson’s philosophy stresses explosiveness and quickness in training the body to be more efficient and more athletic, while only adding muscle and weight that makes sense to a player’s overall game.
“I’m never going to add size to a player with the result being them slowing down because hockey is a sport based on two-second bursts, followed by stops, starts and turns,” said Olson. “The ‘big’ that they can carry successfully while maintaining their speed, maintaining their quickness, maintaining their explosiveness – that’s of utmost importance to me.”
Olson recognizes most players at Development Camp have already learned to lift weights and do appropriate conditioning as part of their offseason regimen. Yet in addition to that work, he believes the players who put in extra time and effort with high-intensity interval training like jump training and ground-based plyometrics (both of which were incorporated into Development Camp workouts), are the ones who will stand out on the ice.
“That’s what we focus on and that’s what I hope they leave here with: The value and the importance of making sure you pay the price off the ice.”
The American trio of Belpedio, Greenway and Tuch will likely be joined by Wild prospects from Finland and Sweden. Both countries will announce rosters in the upcoming weeks.
For these young hockey players, a chance to shine on the international stage is right around the corner.
Training camp for the 2015-16 season may be more than a month and a half away but the Minnesota Wild is still staying active in St. Paul this summer.
On Saturday, July 25 you can knock out some offseason gear needs at the State of Hockey Mobile store, while exploring the wide variety of lunch, dinner and dessert options at the St. Paul Food Truck Fair. The feast setup will be located at Kellogg and 7th Street, across from Xcel Energy Center, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Also at the Food Truck Festival, fans can join the 2015-2016 season ticket waiting list to guarantee the opportunity to purchase tickets to the outdoor game in February.
Entrance to the event is $2 per person, with a portion of each fee being donated to a local charity. Once inside, each truck charges their own prices based on their specific menu and offerings.