Dutch Schnell’s Opening Day Diary
Wednesday, October 5 was the first Wild regular season home game in 549 days. The Minnesota Wild wanted to reward fans for their patience during last year’s work stoppage by putting on the best daylong “Welcome Back” celebration imaginable. The festivities included a Wild Wake-Up rally, a Bud Light “Wild Reunion” block party and a home game against the defending Western Conference champion Calgary Flames.
For those who may have missed any of the action, Wild.com sent goalie-racer/columnist, Dutch Schnell to all of the day’s activities. After some hemming and hawing and requesting a hefty chunk of change, Schnell kept a diary of the day’s events.
Here is Opening Day, in the words of Dutch.
5:30 AM – Woke up this morning to my golden retriever, Dryden, jumping on my bed and gnawing on my face. My first thought was that Dryden was just as excited about Opening Day as I was. When he started marking his territory on my comforter, I knew it to be true.
Opening Day had dawned. A new Wild regular season was upon me, and the entire State of Hockey legion in Minnesota, and beyond.
After a thorough cleansing, I was forced to break out the ol’ suit and noose for the occasion today. Apparently, that’s strict policy with the Minnesota Wild upper-echelon-types on game days. It varies from my usual attire preferences of an oversized blue Wild practice jersey, tiger-striped Zubaz and moon boots.
No matter. I made due. On the plus side, I was pleasantly surprised how well my moon boots complemented my suit.
7:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Took my spot on Kellogg Boulevard where Wild staff members, like a well-oiled machine, handed out breakfast and gifts to passers-by on their morning commutes. Some of the giveaways included juice, cinnamon rolls, Wild calendars and State of Hockey flags.
Now, goalie racing is an individual sport, but Dutch Schnell is nothing, if not a team player. I think the Breakfast Rally coordinators recognized this, as they assigned me to “flag-duty.”
I considered this a great honor, because the State of Hockey flag has come to symbolize the pride our state has in the sport of hockey. And, yes, I wrote that sentence specifically in case my bosses happen to be reading this. But think about it, even Mayor Randy Kelly wasn’t given “Flag Duty.” They had him passing out some O.J.
The Breakfast Rally moved along swimmingly. That is, until that despicable, puppy-hating goalie-racer, known as Egg Olson, pulled up in his fancy-pants limo, scavenging for a free meal. Mayor Kelly had to restrain me as I started hurling sticky buns and cups of orange juice at his stretch Hummer, which he likely paid for after selling that last bit of soul he had to the Prince of Darkness.
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM - Went down to morning practice to scope things out and get some quotes from our Hall-of-Fame coach, Jacques Lemaire. Judging by the intensity in his eyes, he is ready to go tonight. He wants this game, and he wants it BAD. He didn’t say as much, but Jacques and I have some sort of unexplainable E.S.P. and I just seem to know exactly what’s going on in that complex hockey mind of his. Good thing my E.S.P. capabilities can translate his French-speaking thoughts.
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM – I headed over to the St. Paul Grill, where Wild radio producer, Kevin Falness, told I that several Minnesota dignitaries would be waiting to dine with me. By the time 1:30 PM rolled around, and Governor Pawlenty, Mayor Kelly, Mayor Rybak, Senator Coleman and Kevin Garnett had still yet to show, I knew I was once again the victim of one of Falness’ oh-so-funny pranks.
2:30 PM – Took some time to answer fan mail. Here’s an example of an actual email sent to email@example.com, from one of my biggest fans named Ryan. Ryan read my introductory entry on Wild.com, and I could tell that he’s a die-hard Wild fan who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ryan writes:
“I guess you could say the Calgary Flames will make history tonight beating your beloved minnasota wild. Dwayne roloson played for the now western conference champions in ’96-’98. A major part of the reason why the flames are better now. But he was pretty good in calgary......? Dwayne never came close to .500 winning record with the flames. In the 97-98 season he let in 110 goals in only 39 games! So instead of lying to your readers tell them the truth. I can’t believe you would try to use roli as a reason why the Wild will win tonight. You obviously don’t know very much about hockey. But good to see you did you homework? A better player to mention if you want to mention a former flame is Wes walz. But wait his home town is Calgary. Better not then.
ps. Nice office! I seen kool-aid stands wome town is Calgary. Better not then.
ps. Nice office! I seen kool-aid stands with a better set-up than yours!”
Aren’t those Calgarites just the cutest things? It’s as if Ryan doesn’t realize that “Roli” had no interest in “putting up great numbers.” If he did that, it would have HELPED the Flames. Ryan should know by now that “Roli” bleeds the Forest Green. He always has, and he always will. His time in Calgary was nothing more than a recognizance mission that he parlayed into enormous success when he joined the Wild. “Roli” is really a genius, is what he is.
And wasn’t it nice of Ryan to notice my office décor? He must have seen my old office, which was a bucket that I stood on top of while washing the Xcel Energy Center windows.
In fact, now that I think about it, I believe I seen Ryan walking by one day; he was holding a map, probably still looking for the state of Minnasota. Keep at it Ryan! And keep cheering on your beloved Wild!
3:30 PM – Decided to head over up to the Al Shaver Press Box to meditate and get myself mentally prepared for these Calgary Flames. This team is not to be taken lightly, especially with former Wild enforcer/trash-talker, Jason Wiemer. What Jarome Iginla is to scoring goals, Jason Wiemer is to scaring the beejeebers out of me.
4:00 PM – It was party time by the time I got to West Seventh Street for the Bud Light “Wild Reunion.” The State of Hockey legion was out in full force. And I was like a kid in a candy store. I was surrounded by my kind of Wild fans, and there was no sign of Egg Olson anywhere. He was most likely trying to scalp his tickets somewhere.
While at the party, I met hundreds, if not thousands of Wild fans, who were busy reminiscing, drinking some beverages, and rocking out to The Hopefuls.
Oddly, some people asked where I got my mask. I had no idea what they were talking about.
6:30 PM – Enjoyed a pre-game press meal in Billy Rob’s Café III, which is located in the bowels of the Xcel Energy Center. Tonight’s meal included prime rib, shrimp, macaroni and cheese, corn, salad bar, seafood gumbo and marble cake. At least, that’s what the menu said. Of course, by the time I got down there, the media members and Wild staff members had devoured it all.
I wasn’t mad, though. The way they were ripping apart their food like a lions over a dead antelope, I figured they needed the food more than me.
6:55 – Found my designated seat in the press box and I was thrilled to see that Wild media relation’s guru, Aaron Sickman would be sitting directly to my left. This day just kept getting better and better!
7:00 PM – After an emotional opening video and speech from Wild Chairman, Bob Naegele, Jr., and the new season was under way.
9:45 PM – Did you click there? I didn’t think so, you lazy rascals! You didn’t want to have to move that mouse another three inches did you?
That’s okay, it was a long day, and by now, we’re all aware that the Wild fulfilled my promise to the State of Hockey legion, with a six-goal outburst and a victory over the Calgary Flames.
9:46 PM – Several colleagues patted me on the back with my prediction of a three-goal victory by the Wild. I tried to explain to them that I’m NOT psychic (although people have a hard time believing it). I just crunched the numbers, studied the probability and surmised that there was no way the Wild would lose on Opening Night to the Calgary Flames. Sooner or later, people will realize that goalie-racers are smarter than the average bear, with the obvious exception of chronic house-egger, Egg Olson.
11:00 PM – Normally, the ride home to Eden Prairie from Saint Paul is a long, and treacherous journey. But this time it was like I was floating through the clouds on a golden chariot being pulled by magical unicorns. All I could think about was Chouinard’s hat trick, “Roli’s” clutch goaltending, and the party that was…Opening Day.