It's been a long couple weeks since the Wild have played at Xcel Energy Center. A long west coast road trip resulted in a no wins and 5 losses, giving the Wild a depressing record of 1-6. It sucks being a fan of that team. I'm not going to rehash that 0-5 trip - that's been done at nauseum. Let's look at why things will turn around soon for our favorite hockey team.
Gotta start somewhere, and the X is the last (only) place they won a game. It's only for one game and they're back out to St. Louis, but then they come back here Saturday. The long road trip is over and at least they get some familiarity with their surroundings. Should impart a better state of mind.
Third Jersey Debut
The Wild will wear their new green third jersey for the first time tonight. Some teams rack up wins in their alternate jerseys and this is obviously purely coincidence, but if it makes the day feel like a special occasion and amps the team up a bit more I'll bite.
More Work on the System
Veteran Wild F Andrew Brunette was on KFAN with Lavelle E. Neil this morning, and they talked a bit about learning the new system. Bruno is always pretty candid in media interviews and he sounded sincere in speaking to the difficulty in going to a new system that is pretty much the exact opposite of what most of the team is used to playing. He said it in a way that makes me believe it's more than just an excuse, that there truly are growing pains of learning Todd Richards' system. He said he feels like each day they get a bit better, and if it's working well they will be a hard forechecking team. It's gotta click eventually.
Another factor Bruno touched on was injuries. Not so much that the injuries have resulted in the losses, but that they've contributed to the learning curve on the new system. A good portion of the team (including Bruno and Koivu) missed most of the preseason with injuries, and now you have Havlat and Sykora missing games. Havlat may play tonight and Sykora sounds close, and out of nowhere Cal Clutterbuck skated with the team today, so things are looking up.
On a downside to the injury thing, Pierre Marc Bouchard was placed on extended injury reserve or some goofy thing. He has concussion symptoms that won't go away. Some people have speculated that his career could be in question. That would be sad - PMB is a good kid.
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher made a deal with Boston for Chuck Kobasew, a tough winger. He might not be the key to making this team competitive, but he has scored 20+ goals the last two seasons, and the Wild need goal scorers. Fletch gave up a good prospect, but you gotta give up something to get something. Would Doug Reisbrough have made that trade?
The Official Face of the Franchise
Finally, the Wild have a permanent captain. They gave F Mikko Koivu the C for good, even though it has been unofficially his team for the last year or so. Mikko was the fan choice. Richards said he exibits all the characteristics of a good leader. During the presser announcing the move he spoke to the media in a way I haven't ever really heard him speak. You could hear the responsibility in his tone. He said the important thing was that "the older guys" supported him in that role and that he wouldn't change how he plays or how he acts in the clubhouse, but I envision him taking the role and running with it. Some people step up more when others give you more responsibility and I think Mikko, typically thought of as a quiet leader, will excell in this spot.
It's going to get better folks.