CHICAGO -- For the first time since Oct. 30, the Wild will have its 11 forwards, healthy, that it entered training camp with from last season.
On Monday, Head Coach Mike Yeo said having that forward group creates internal competition, and pushes players to be better. What it also did early in the season, when the group was intact, was afford the Wild's bottom-six the opportunities to be very impactful.
"That's how you win; it's no secret," Zach Parise said. "You have to have everyone that's capable of playing the game, and at some point contributing offensively, and making plays."
The Minnesota Wild returned to the ice for practice on Monday after one of its most disappointing losses of the season. Both Head Coach Mike Yeo and players were blunt with assessing the team's performance of late, but the overall message was, this is something that can get turned around.
"Now we're looking for leadership; we need leaders," Ryan Suter said. "Coaching staff, players, we need people that are going to lead.
"It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other, you have to come together and dig out of this. Now is when you need leadership more than ever. It's easy to coach and be a leader when things are going good."
With Thanksgiving feasts completed, Movember is coming to a close, but not before celebrating Josh Iskierka on the evening of Nov. 28 as the top fundraiser for this year’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for mean’s health.
Iskierka raised more than $3,000 for the Movember Foundation, on behalf of the Minnesota Wild and has been rewarded with tickets for the game against the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night.
On Nov. 3 Paul Allen of KFAN (Team KFAN) and Kevin Gorg of FOX Sports North (Team FSN), held a live draft of Wild players, the Minnesota Wild mascot, Nordy, and Sasquatch from Jack Link’s to compete to see who could grow the best mustaches and raise the most money during the month. Co-captains for Movember from the Wild are Ryan Carter for Team KFAN and Matt Dumba for Team FSN.
For his efforts, Iskierka, who joined Team FSN on the Movember fundraising site, has also earned the opportunity to announce “Let’s Play Hockey” before the game, and meet with teammates Matt Dumba, Kevin Gorg and Nordy of Team FSN after the contest Saturday night. Sasquatch will also be there as the winning team is presented with the inaugural Jack Link’s Jerky Cup after the game. This cup was made out of real Jack Link’s products to recognize the outstanding achievements of the winning team.
Josh, taking part in Movember fundraising for the seventh straight year, raised more than $3,000 for Team FSN in November – the same month he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that also spread to his lymph nodes. Though he had surgery on Nov. 12 to remove multiple lymph nodes from his neck, Saturday night he’ll still ring loud and proud for “Let’s Play Hockey.”
The Wild would like to thank all of the participants and those who donated to the cause this year, as well as partners Jack Link’s, KFAN radio, FOX Sports North and the Movember Foundation – and if you have special thoughts for Iskierka let him know with a message on his fundraising page.
And with the final three days of the month at hand, please use these three Movember “fight” posters as a final bit of inspiration to contribute this year and start your strategy ahead of time for 2016.
Forward Justin Fontaine, who has been out since sustaining a sprained MCL on Oct. 30, has been activated off Injured Reserve and is expected to play on Saturday when the Minnesota Wild hosts the Dallas Stars.
"It gives you some more tools," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We're going to be able to re-assemble our lines the way they were a little earlier in the year when we were having success. We'll see if we can recapture some of that."
Fontaine has missed the past 11 games with the knee injury. He missed the first two games of the season and much of preseason after sustaining an oblique injury.
Forward Zach Parise will return to the Minnesota Wild lineup on Friday when it plays the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center.
Parise has missed the past eight games with a sprained MCL. He practiced in full on Thursday after being medically cleared, and will play on Friday for the first time since sustaining the injury on Nov. 5.
Forward Zach Parise returned to Minnesota Wild practice on Thursday, and could play on Friday when the Wild hosts the Winnipeg Jets.
The Wild has two plans in place, according to Head Coach Mike Yeo: One that includes Parise, and one that doesn't.
"We don't know which one we're going with yet," Yeo said. "He's medically cleared, and if we had any kind of concerns or uncertainty then we'd hold him out."
As Mikko Koivu stood in the back of the room, in the threshold of where Wild hockey players turned into charity event wait staff, a young boy approached him.
It wasn’t a rare sight for the Monday night Wild About Children event on Monday night. Koivu and every other player in attendance were frequently asked for autographs, photographs, or refills on a glass of wine.
But this request was different. The young boy had just begun playing center on his youth hockey team, and wanted to pick the brain of the Wild's captain.
As recently as the 2012-13 season, the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks saw a lot of each other in the Northwest Division. But realignment did away with that, and though they still play in the same conference, the Wild and Canucks play each other far less frequently.
"Maybe we're a little less familiar, but it's a Western Conference team," Ryan Carter said. "We know what they're about."
The Wild may not play the Canucks as often as the Chicago Blackhawks, or the St. Louis Blues, but that doesn't mean the gameplan is any different.
As the Minnesota Wild prepare for its next game on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks, it's all about progression.
Head Coach Mike Yeo has talked all season about how the Wild's main focus is using each game to build toward a more complete product. With a win at home on Saturday to start a four-game homestand, the Wild is hoping to carry some of that momentum and the things it did well into its next challenge against Vancouver.
"We take pride in our home building, and we take pride in every game, but especially here at home, you have to take care of business when you're at home," Schroeder said. "We're just going to go one game at a time, and go from there."
The Minnesota Wild unveiled its 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series uniforms on Tuesday. With Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and Ryan Suter helping to model the jerseys, here is what each player had to say at the event.