As training camp opened, Tyler Graovac said he had a vision of what making the Minnesota Wild would look like.
On Tuesday, that vision became a reality. "The chairs were a little different than I visualized," Graovac said with a laugh. "But besides that, I'm kind of used to everything, and how it works here. I've been here since I was 18, and I'm not used to them saying 'you're going to stick.'"Graovac was told on Tuesday that he made the Wild's opening night roster. He'll center a line between left wing Thomas Vanek, and right wing Charlie Coyle.
The start of October means great events to drop the puck on the 2015-16 season for the Minnesota Wild.
Two of these events took place over the past few days at Xcel Energy Center and Saint Paul RiverCentre, respectively, as the Wild organization continues to engage with the community.
Thousands of pieces of donated hockey equipment were distributed for free to local hockey families and hockey associations on Saturday morning, Oct. 3 at Xcel Energy Center (video above). The Minnesota Wild, Let’s Play Hockey and Minnesota Hockey partnered for the seventh year on the annual Used Hockey Equipment Drive across the Twin Cities.
The 2015 Minnesota Wild Face-Off Luncheon, presented by Wells Fargo, was hosted in conjunction with the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce on Monday at Saint Paul RiverCentre. The outing provided an opportunity for fans to meet players and coaches over lunch prior to the season opener on Thursday in Colorado. Anthony LaPanta and Mike Greenlay teamed to emcee the event that included one Q&A session with Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Head Coach Mike Yeo, and another with Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Greenlay was also able to catch-up with Devan Dubnyk to get his thoughts on the luncheon (below).
Over the weekend, the best and brightest in television and video production in the Upper Midwest were celebrated at the 2015 Regional Emmy® Gala in Bloomington.
The Wild, along with team television partner FOX Sports North, the Minnesota National Guard, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and the Serving Our Troops organization, were all recognized with the 2015 Board of Governors Award for outstanding achievement in staging the Hockey Day Minnesota event at Holman Field last January.
In addition to the Governors Award, our partners at FOX Sports North received an Emmy for their coverage of the 2014-2015 Wild season, and our own Wes Walz was recognized for his talents as studio analyst on Wild Live pre- and post-game shows.
When it comes to shooting a puck into a very small goal, Charlie Coyle proved his sauce is saucier than most.
Coyle won the 2015 Sauce Hockey Challenge, and has split its $10,000 prize between two charities of his choice.
A lifestyle apparel company, Sauce Hockey collaborated with more 20 NHL players and television host Mike Kelly to put on the challenge. Players were given 10 shots at a mini-goal that was 12 yards away and was eight-by-12 inches.
Coyle split the prize money evenly between Defending the Blue Line, and Humor to Fight the Tumor. He won the challenge after scoring on six of his 10 shots.
Chris Porter, the newest Wild player, was on the ice Friday for practice following being claimed off waivers on Thursday.
Porter said he would have liked to make it to Minnesota in time to play in the Wild's preseason finale against the Buffalo Sabres—a 6-1 win—but was unable to because of the travel involved.
The Eden Prairie native is now back at home in Minnesota, and quite happy about it.
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said a lot can change week-to-week, but claiming forward Chris Porter off waivers only increases Minnesota's talent pool and adds depth to an already deep team.
"Our cap situation was tight this summer," Fletcher said. "We were trying to keep our powder dry, and leave as much cap space as possible until we could see what happened in training camp."
Porter, who has played 173 career NHL games, all with the St. Louis Blues, said he feels his style of play would mesh well with what the Wild do having seen them so often in the Central Division.
With one preseason game separating the Wild from the start of the regular season, when Minnesota plays tonight, it will be something of a final tune-up before the regular season kicks off.
Because of the schedule though, the Wild will have a week off between its preseason finale on Thursday against the Bufalo Sabres and Oct. 8 opener against the Colorado Avalanche. It doesn't change the focus for tonight's game, but does change the plan following it.
"I'm anxious to see what we put into these; sometimes these last exhibition games are almost treated as a bit of a formality," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "I would like to see us treat it a little bit more seriously than that given that we've got a little bit of time between now and our next game. We'd like to use it the best we could."
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher announced Brent Flahr (above in red tie) as the new general manager of the Iowa Wild on Wednesday.
Flahr has served as the assistant general manager of the Wild since 2009, and will remain in that role.
During his tenure as assistant general manager, Flahr has been heavily involved in player development and player evaluation. During this time the Wild has drafted Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Joel Eriksson Ek, Mikael Granlund, Gustav Olofsson, Alex Tuch, and Jason Zucker.
In his new role for Iowa, Flahr will oversee all components of hockey operations.
A full release on the announcement can be found here.
After playing five preseason games in seven days last week, the Wild is in the middle of stretch of three games—one preseason and two regular season—in 17 days.
So it's a different stretch of the schedule for the Wild with a lot less hockey, and one that's being managed accordingly.
"We have a game tomorrow, and we have to prepare like that's our first game, and then build off that," Ryan Suter said. "Our focus now is on tomorrow, and just making sure we're ready to go. After that, we'll have to manage the long stretch we have."
The Wild has its second of back-to-back practices today at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth as it makes final preparations for the 2015-16 NHL season.
Duluth’s Local Organizing Committee (LOC) is also in ramp-up mode as they prepare to host the 10th Annual Wells Fargo Hockey Day Minnesota on February 6, 2016.
During the morning practice today the LOC will have representatives available to support the opening of Hockey Day event ticket sales, with tickets also available online at www.hockeydayduluth.com. Tickets cover admission to Bayfront Festival Park for the full schedule of hockey games and events in Duluth on Hockey Day Minnesota.
Hockey Day Minnesota Heads North
Wild In Duluth To Bond, Continue Season Prep