It’s American Thanksgiving and while many families are gathered around their dinner tables, enjoying family time, enjoying good food and remembering all that they are grateful for, the Minnesota Wild will be doing the same. While their season got off to a rocky start with three straight losses, things have turned a corner lately.
As such, our Wild Crew at The Ice Hockey Writers discussed some Thanksgiving-related issues. Tyson McKay, CG Jones and Mariah Stark compiled their answers to some of the things the wild should be thankful for.
Which wild player are you most grateful for and why?
Tyson: It’s an easy choice for me. Even though he’s retired, my number one will be the one and only wild number 9, Mikko Koivu. Just an outstanding player man and the first player I can say I saw the day he was drafted. I’ve watched almost every game of his career and was as happy as anyone to see his number lifted at the Xcel Energy Center.
Koivu was a pioneer for the Wild and helped build the team from the start. His name will forever be in the record books and for good reason as he has been and will be one of the most dominant two-way players the Wild will ever have. His influence in the locker room and on the ice shaped the organization into what it is today.
cg.: The player I’m most grateful for is probably a sleeper, but I’ll go with Sam Steel. As a player wading through the last nine minutes, his recent performance could mean he sees more playing time with the likes of Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello.
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Mariah: My answer is probably cliche, but I’ll go with #97, Kirill Kaprizov. When I first heard about what a great player he was I couldn’t believe it until I started watching highlights and was immediately mesmerized by his ability to circle around almost anyone. So when he came to Minnesota I was a little hesitant to believe he could be the superstar the Wild had been looking for all these years, but he turned out to be real.
Kaprizov was the Wild’s first Calder Trophy winner, the first to score more than 100 points, and he has set many other records. The crazy thing is that it’s only in its third season and it’s already on the road to success. The Wild has always had loyal fans but he’s really given them a reason to celebrate again and his career will be fun to watch. He has helped them win games and he improves everyone’s game around him. I mean, what’s not to be thankful for when talking about a player like Kaprizov?
Which team member should the wild be most thankful for?
Tyson: The man responsible for putting Wild at the forefront of drafting in the NHL: Judd Brackett. The Wild’s Director of Amateur Scouting is one of the main reasons they were able to weather the worst of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s takeovers. His ability to source talent in each round of the draft has given them a powerhouse from a potential pool to draw from for years to come, whether for squad players or trading purposes.
cg: The staff member I am most grateful to is Frederic Chabot – the Wilds’ goalkeeping coach. Not only are they underrated in my opinion, but the fact that Marc-André Fleury has been gaining and losing weight this season means that Chabot has been working with Filip Gustavsson and others more than was probably anticipated at the start of the season.
Mariah: I am actually torn between two people on this issue. I’ve always been curious about the jobs of Wild’s Equipment Manager, Tony DaCosta, and their Physical Coach, John Worley. Each of these guys has a very important job that ranges from making sure all the players have exactly the right equipment to taking care of all their injuries.
It can’t be easy replacing a piece of equipment after it breaks, or trying to rehabilitate an injury to get the player fit again as quickly as possible. The amount of stress they have to endure and still stay cool is very impressive. Without them, the Wild would not be able to beat every game and be ready for action. Luckily they have two of the best in the business and they’re always on the ball.
What should the wild be most thankful for this season? Why?
Tyson: As a team that has struggled so far this season, it’s fortunate for the Wild that they’re just two points away from a wild card spot. A fairly large number of teams in the Western Conference have also had their fair share of struggles, which has allowed the Wild to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot. If they take this opportunity and get a few wins during these home games, they can be back where they should be – fighting for the top of the Central Division.
cg: This may be a weak fruit, but I think the savages have to be thankful for their fan base. As someone who grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesotans are devoted to their hockey clubs, and the Wild are no different. Not every franchise enjoys this particular brand of fandom.
Mariah: I think the savages have to be thankful for their depth, I know some of their prospects (Marco Rossi) are not producing as much as they hoped, but it takes time. However, you have to be proud of how players like Mason Shaw and Calen Addison really rose through the ranks and struggled to keep their roster spots, especially Shaw.
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I wasn’t sure how Shaw would fit into the lineup but he was great, especially with his courage and determination to do well. Like Kaprizov, he can increase the energy of his linemates, which is another reason he’s stayed in the lineup. I know the Wild have more talented prospects just waiting until they can join the NHL, but they have a great future and I look forward to seeing each season with all of these players that show up.
The Wild may have gotten off to a rocky start, but they’ve recently stringed together back-to-back wins and can head into Thanksgiving on a high note. It’s almost time for Christmas and all the fun that surrounds it; Perhaps the Wild are still on a winning streak and in a playoff position by then.
Mariah Stark (Holland) is a writer for Minnesota Wild at THW. She has been reporting on game at THW since October 2020 and specializes in taking game with you and weekly check-ins. She’s always looking for different angles to cover the wilds, to dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team, to help fans connect on a more personal level, and to follow her latest episodes on Twitter to keep an eye on @MariahEStark.