Wild’s Most “Rugged” and other News
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.