Archive for May 2009
SI has recently posted a list of the NHL’s “Most Rugged” players and one of Wild Nation’s personal favorite hockey blogs, Puck Daddy, has responded with their revised list, of which Wild winger Owen Nolan was one.
All of this got me thinking. The Wild has never really been the epitome of a “rugged” team, save for the playoffs two years ago when they had the Four Horsemen (Derek Boogaard, Aaron Voros, Todd Fedoruk and Chris Simon) on their roster. But last season, who could have been considered the Wild’s “Most Rugged” players? After some serious thought, here’s what I came up with:
5) Brent Burns – From his gap-toothed smile to his perpetual almost-beard, rugged is certainly a word that is befitting of the Wild’s brightest star on the blueline. Burnsie does it all. He hits, he scores, he plays good defense; and let’s be honest. The man played the last six weeks of his season with a concussion. That’s rugged.
4) Stephane Veilleux – The reisdent red-headed stepchild of the Wild has always been one to mix it up with anyone at any time. He’s played through broken bones on his face on multiple occasions and is always front and center when the Wild’s checking line comes into the discussion. One of the best checking line players the Wild has had, Veilleux will try to cash in on this ruggedness this summer.
3) Cal Clutterbuck – The new face of the Wild’s checking line certainly put on a show this last season. Clutterbuck gained noteriety from his big hits, despite his small stature. Throw in another perpetual chin growth and you’ve got one rugged player. Besides…Anytime you anger Don Cherry to the point where he gives you a derogatory nickname, you must be doing something right.
2) Andrew Brunette – Truth be told, Brunette has never been known for his physical play, but he gets the nod over Clutterbuck here due to the fact that a) he looks like he’s one day of forgetting to shave away from joining Han Solo aboard the Millenium Falcon and b) he played the last three months of this season with a torn ACL. Now that’s rugged.
1) Owen Nolan – We’ve got to give the nod to the Wild’s resident badass on this one. You know a player commands fear and respect when he’s allowed to screen the goalie pretty much unimpeded, which Nolan did all season long. On top of that, he is the only player on the Wild’s team that is allowed to break the gameday dress code because, quite simply, no one wants to tell him that he can’t; not to mention that he penciled himself into the line up this season, coming back early from an injury. As Burns said about him in a session of Hockey Unplugged; you don’t want to mess with him. He could firebomb your car.
- Wild prospect Cody Almond is playing in the Memorial Cup with the Kelowna Rockets. Almond has been signed to an entry level deal and will play with the Aeros next season. Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune also pointed out that Almond takes nearly all of the big faceoffs for Kelowna, not to mention has got some great wheels on him and is a solid penalty killer. Almond was second in playoff scoring in the WHL with 27 points in 22 games.
- The search for the next GM of the Wild continues. For what it’s worth, my prediction for this is Pierre McGuire as GM and Pat Quinn as coach. Second interviews should be wrapping up shortly, however, and we may have a new GM as soon as next week.
- The Aeros avoided elminiation by downing the Manitoba Moose in OT, 5-4. The Aeros now trail 3-1 and will face elimination again in Game 5 in Houston.
Per Mike Russo, there has apparently been an addition to the Wild’s shortlist.
According to Russo, the Wild have interviewed Ducks Assistant GM, David McNab. The interview took place on Saturday.
This is an interesting selection for the Wild, namely because McNab is very keyed into the NCAA and has been instrumental in the Ducks’ wealth of quality collegiate players in their system. In addition, Russo added that Paul Fenton, Mike Santos, Pat Quinn and Pierre McGuire have all interviewed for the position already and that Chuck Fletcher will be the next to interview, likely either today or Thursday. He also mentioned that acting General Manager, Tom Lynn, will be the last to interview.
Russo also mentioned that this may not be the last round of interviews:
There also could be another round of interviews potentially. The Wild is doing none of the interviews at the arena, meaning there’s always a chance they bring some of the candidates back to tour the offices and arena.
That’s all for today. If I have anything more, I’ll update as I hear it!
Mike Russo posted a blog early, early this morning (burning the midnight oil during the off season…The sign of a great writer) that essentially outlined the Wild’s shortlist for the GM position. You can check the full blog out here and the article he wrote here. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the candidates:
Chuck Fletcher: Pittsburgh’s Assistant GM has been considered the front runner for this position over the last week or so and is already well respected within the NHL. At 41 years of age, he already has 16 years of experience under his belt with Florida, Anaheim and Pittsburgh and has worked alongside many of the NHL’s most respected executives. He has obviously had a large hand in the resurgence of the Penguins over the last few years and, in all honesty, I think the job could be his to lose. Reports say that Fletcher is to be in town later this week to interview.
Pierre McGuire: McGuire, while the unconventional choice, could bring an interesting viewpoint to the Wild’s front office. He has long been looking to get into management in the NHL and I would think that you would be hard pressed to find anyone more knowledgable about the talent in the NHL than McGuire. That said, he has absolutely zero experience with working with the cap. He is the other of the two front runners for this job, but I think that the recent failings of Barry Melrose in Tampa (whether it was his fault or not) may cause Leipold to shy away on this one. He is reportedly scheduled to interview tomorrow.
Pat Quinn: I’m not going to make any bones about it. I love Pat Quinn. I do think, however, that he’d make a better coach than a GM and he has been saying that he would like to get back into coaching. He has family in Minnesota (Eden Prairie to be precise) and expressed immediate interest in both the GM and coaching position. I honestly think that he will likely be the next coach if he is still available when the GM is hired.
Tom Lynn: Lynn is an obvious for consideration for this position, as he was Risebrough’s Assistant GM. I have a hard time believing that Leipold will go with Lynn, however, as he has repeatedly said that he wanted a fresh look at the team; which I don’t believe Lynn would give.
Paul Fenton: I think Fenton could be the dark horse in all of this. He and Leipold know each other well and he has certainly been successful in Nashville at helping mold a winning organization. I would be surprised if Leipold goes with Fenton, but I also think it could certainly be a possibility.
A few quick hits from Wild Nation:
- According to Mike Russo, Stephane Veilleux has hired an agent for this off season. Apparently he realized that the whole no agent thing didn’t work out so well for him last time.
- The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox has some interesting thoughts on Pierre McGuire as the next Wild GM…Or as he put it, “wild” GM.
- Looking towards the draft, here is NHL.com’s profile of Jordan Schroeder. Schroeder just finished his first year at the University of Minnesota and is being widely regarded as the player that the Wild will select with their first round pick in the NHL draft.
- For those Aeros fans out there (of whom I know there are a few), here is The 3rd Intermission’s look at the second game of their playoff series.
- It has absolutely nothing to do with the Wild, but I love reading Justin Bourne’s blogs. You’re always in for hilarity of some sort.
- And finally, for those interested, my rundown of the weekend’s goings on in the NHL playoffs on Hockey Primetime.
Since there hasn’t been much (read: any) Wild news to report recently, I just felt that I should inform you all that I am writing for Hockey Primetime once again. All of my Wild news will still be contained here on Wild Nation; however, I will be posting all of my NHL articles on there for the time being. For those interested, here are the links:
HPT Western Conference Predictions: #3 Vancouver vs. #4 Chicago
HPT Western Conference Predictions: #2 Detroit vs. #8 Anaheim
HPT Eastern Conference Predictions: #1 Boston vs. #6 Carolina
HPT Eastern Conference Predictions: #2 Washington vs. #4 Pittsburgh
Masterton Candicates Announced
Canucks Stave Off Comeback; Win Game 1