Tour Check-In: Monday
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Leg Three - Monday, June 26
|The leg three group answers questions during Hockey Unplugged with Keving Falness.|
What do 400 lucky fans, two Wild coaches and a sunburned redhead have in common? They could all be found in Rochester on this beautiful June day in southern Minnesota.
Brent Burns, Stephane Veilleux (the aforementioned sunburned redhead), Bob Mason and Mike Ramsey all traveled to Rochester on Monday for the first Wells Fargo Wild Road Tour “super-stop” in team history.
The bus left Saint Paul at about 8:00 AM, and just 90 minutes and 712 hash browns later, the traveling quartet arrived at the KROC studios, where they did a quick interview for the Wild’s Rochester affiliate and recorded some “liners” for the station to play during the broadcast of Wild games this upcoming season.
After surviving the glaring spotlight of the Rochester media, everyone traveled to the Ramada Convention Center, where Burns and Veilleux were quite excited to see all that awaited them at a “super-stop.” About 400 hockey fans and more fun than you could shake an illegally curved stick at, awaited the four-some, who spent their extended lunch breaks answering fan questions, signing autographs and competing in a shooting accuracy-competition. (For the record, Stephane Veilleux showed why he just might score 100 goals next season, knocking down three of the four targets with ease.)
Then it was off to Graham Arena, where the celebrities skated with area youth for a spell. Everyone wanted to race Burns and Veilleux, and the guys were usually nice enough to give a bit of a head start. The highlight of the day was Burns laying out at the finish line, sliding across the ice Pete Rose-style. It’s
|The Rochester stop included interactive games, which this future Wild star tried his hand at.|
A local children’s hospital was the next stop for the crew, who had already met a pretty special patient earlier in the day. Peyton Paulson, a seven-year-old and a huge Wild fan, had been anxiously awaiting the Wild’s visit, so it was easy to see why he wasn’t very pleased when his doctor told him he would need to have a procedure at the same time as the team’s visit. So Peyton’s mom brought him down to the super-stop and Brent and Steph got a chance to meet him anyway. Peyton spent some time with the guys on the bus and talked hockey. Peyton’s a tough little Wild fan, and we wish him the best of luck in the future. The players and coaches took time to meet more patients at the hospital throughout the afternoon, and were pleased to meet so many smiling Wild fans.
A long day almost in the books, the boys boarded the bus for one more stop, this time for a VIP event with some of the people who made this day so successful: partners from Charter Communications and Wells Fargo. Brent and Steph had some fun playing knee-hockey with kids in attendance and everyone got a chance to meet each Wild celebrity. After the event, everyone headed to the Radisson to finally check into their hotel rooms. The players went to enjoy a local workout facility, while the coaches played golf. Later, everyone met for dinner at Michael’s – a fine dining establishment which has photos lining the walls with famous people who have dined there. It provided the perfect end to an outstanding day in Rochester.
Leg One - Monday, June 26Ahhh Day one. The 2006 Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild Road Tour got off to a wonderful start…albeit, a very early start. Marc Chouinard, a two-year Tour veteran and Kurtis Foster joined Brad Bombardir and Tom Reid as we took off from 317 Washington promptly at 8:00 AM.
|Brad Bombardir encourages a young fan to watch Spinal Tap, his favorite movie.|
Our first stop was at the Wells Fargo in Alexandria. The trip up was smooth in our Star Limousine as we headed west across the State of Hockey. The traveling group decided to pop in Bombardir’s favorite movie, This Is Spinal Tap. Bombardir proceeded to laugh through the entire movie as the others watched in anticipation - not for the next scene, but for Bombardir’s next laugh. One stop was needed in Albany for a coffee break.
Pause Spinal Tap.
Albany is a great little town where one of the traveling crew once scored a birdie on its wonderful golf course.
Restart Spinal tap.
Arriving in Alexandria we were greeted by wonderful weather and a group of youth hockey skaters. Bank President Jason Olsen stopped by and greeted us, but had to quickly get to work as the “grill master” serving up the Schweigert Hot Dogs. The event went well as many autographs were signed and interviews given. After the event wrapped up the traveling crew headed to Lake L’Homme Dieu to the Bug-A-Boo-Bay restaurant. It was nice to have Chouinard in our traveling party to translate what the lake’s name was. Enjoying the great weather, we munched on some alligator and finished our lunch on the patio overlooking the lake, such a great day.
Spinal Tap – complete…what a funny movie!
A hop, skip and a jump and we’re in Fargo, ND!! The new Southwest Arena was a great spot to hold our event. Many Wild fans were awaiting our arrival after being moved inside because of a quick rain shower. The press was out in full force with both newspaper and television stations hoping to talk to Chouinard and Foster. Many kids enjoyed meeting the crew, hot
The Wild fans in Alexandria were out in full force.
The rolling hills of Western Minnesota (and a quick stop at Subway) were so beautiful as we made our way to Bemidji. The weather turned a little nasty, but driver Marshall drove through like a champ! Wedding Crashers took us most of the way -another funny movie. It’s a good thing that there was a movie on because the defensemen (Foster, Bombardir and Reid) started to gang up on the lone center (Chouinard), so the distraction was a good thing. A small stop in the great little town of Park Rapids kept us awake for the remainder of the drive.
We finally arrived at Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge and the Leg One Traveling party was little fatigued from the long day, but in high spirits as our first day went off without a hitch. Stay tuned for tomorrow as we meet up with Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and the great folks of Grand Rapids!
Thanks for listening, Leg Two - Monday, June 26
Leg One Traveling Party
(Marc Chouinard, Kurtis Foster, Brad Bombardir, Tom Reid, Emily Gausman & Maggie Kukar)
The crew poses happily alongside a new friend in Northern Minnesota.
Leg Two - Monday, June 26
From there, we loaded and boarded the bus to the Ely Golf Club for 9 holes of golf - all proceeds from the golf tournament benefited the Ely Blue Line Club (Ely’s youth hockey association). One broadcaster and one player were teamed together on par 3s to meet and greet the four, five, six and eightsomes.
Everyone teed off, and if one of the Wild celebrities hit their shot closer to the pin, the teams could opt to use their ball. Josh Harding proved why he’s a hockey goalie by landing three of his shots in the water. Although he got off to a wet start, he made a nice recovery by hitting the closest shot of the day...just seven feet shy of the pin. With the support of Dan Terhaar, Derek Boogaard was a good sport as he borrowed a set of sticks from the clubhouse - and it’s not easy to find clubs that fit a 6’7" left-handed player.
Following golf, the guys spent an hour signing autographs and helping announce raffle winners. The tournament was a huge success for the youth hockey association. We owe a huge thank you to Wells Fargo, WELY and the Blue Line Club. Of course, we could never forget Schweigert and Coke for donating the food and drink. Kudos to all involved!
From the course, we jumped on the bus and made our way to lovely Two Harbors, on the shores of the great lake they call Gitche Gummee. Our new friends in Ely warned us that the first 20-30 minutes out of Ely was very curvy and often times visitors will feel carsick due to the twists and turns. Fortunately for all of us, we made it through this time without any casualties.
A little sleepy from the day’s activities, Josh and Derek took a little nap.
Arriving early in Two Harbors, we acted on a suggestion from our fearless leader Bill Robertson, VP of Communications for the Wild. Dairy Queen was calling his name, and without question, we answered that call with him. Our little snack would provide us enough energy to take a drive down to the harbor to check out the lighthouse, docks and boats. Situated along Lake Superior’s glistening shoreline, Two Harbors already proved to be a beautiful stop.
Our appearance deadline rolled around quickly, and we spent the next hour signing autographs and meeting the local Wild fans. Unphased by the brief downpour, Josh and Derek interacted with the kids by shooting and saving softie pucks.
The show must go on, and this time the show led us to Duluth to prepare for another charity golf tournament, and our superstop on Tuesday. After meeting up with Wild radio producer, Kevin Falness, and our own, Carie Grubb, we enjoyed a late dinner at the world famous PickWick restaurant, thanks to a fabulous suggestion by Duluth-native and Wild Director of Corporate Sales, Mike Snee. Dinner led us to a local favorite - Grandma’s - where we ran into some familiar faces from FSN North who happened to be in Duluth filming FSN Live. It was fun to run into this team from FSN North...it gave us a chance to thank them for their continued support of the Wild and specifically for supporting the Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild road tour. No better way than this to end the night. With a long day and a big morning ahead, we hit the wrapper early.
To be continued...