With the start of training camp two weeks away, Wild players continue to arrive in Minnesota and are piling into the rink for informal practices in preparation of training camp.
Some of the players having been skating for weeks, and a group met on Thursday for practice drills and scrimmages with a mixed bag of Wild and non-Wild players.
"This is my third week here; it's been good," Zach Parise said. "Next week it will be just our team together, so it will be nice."
Suter was tied for the second-highest ranked defenseman in the game (93) behind Nashville's Shea Weber (94). In the 2014-15 season, no skater averaged more ice time per game than Suter's 29:03. He was second in the NHL in total ice time, logging 2,237:35.
Over the past three seasons, Suter leads all skaters in the League with a combined 5,958:54. Doughty, the next closest skater, has played 5,650:11.
As Minnesota Wild players began arriving at Late Minnetonka for the Mike Yeo Classic on Tuesday, they were greeted by many familiar faces.
Tuesday may have served as a reintroduction for some of the 10 Wild players who were in attendance after a summer apart, but not many introductions will be needed in the coming weeks for a roster that is returning many of the same names from the past season.
"It's always nice to back in Minnesota, and training, and to be getting ready for the season,” Jason Zucker said. "This just means we’re a bit closer to that, which is awesome. "We still have a few weeks away, but this allows us to have a little bit of fun while we know we’re getting ready."
For the second straight year, coach Mike Yeo was joined by Minnesota Wild players, local celebrities, and fans for the Mike Yeo Fishing Classic on Tuesday.
Yeo, an experienced fisherman, started the event last year to help fundraise money for the Pinky Swear Foundation and the Angel Foundation, two local groups that provide aid to those closely related to someone with cancer.
"We caught a lot of fish, we had a great time, a great group. It's good conversation while we're out there, and good action," Yeo said. "You don’t even realize while you're out there having fun that we’re raising money for a couple of great charities. Along the way we did some good to."
A group of Wild Season Ticket Holders were on the Xcel Energy Center ice on Saturday, paint brushes in hand, helping to put the finishing touches on the sheet before training camp begins.
Led by Wild Ice Operations Manager Travis Larson, the group helped paint the blue lines, the center line, and the faceoff dots as part of a new event.
"It's a little different, but it’s always good. I was just trying to figure out what they can do,” Larson said. "It's always with the first time like, how much time is it going to take?"
Ten Minnesota Wild draft picks, and 2015 free-agent signing Mike Reilly will be among a group of Wild prospects competing in the 2015 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher announced on Monday.
The annual tournament, which begins on Sept. 11 and ends on Sept. 15, concludes two days before the start of training camp, and gives prospects another chance to impress team brass before camp and preseason begins.
In all, the Wild roster will carry 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and two goalies. Of the 25 players, 23 attended Minnesota’s Development Camp in July.
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.