The hype has died down from the Wild Prospect Camp, the Wild Road tour, the release of the 2010-2011 NHL schedule (three weeks early, thank you NHL) and the Free Agent Frenzy of July 1st. So now, we blithely throw this question out for the multitudes to ponder:
OK, Minnesota Wild. What do you guys do for an encore? What little tidbit do you all dream up now, in order to keep the hockey-starved public happy until the start of Training Camp, scheduled for Sept. 17th?
Yes, we who go online regularly know about the 'State of Jääkiekko' Finnish-based hockey quiz, that those of us who actually do WORK while online at work, cannot ever join in. That we know about. We know the sales staff is busy. It's their time of the year to turn some on-the-fence people into 10-and-20 game ticket holders.
But what about the hockey staff? The rest of the organization? Do they all get the month of August off? Or are things being done to make the organization better, top to bottom?
We know the roster will be greatly improved, as much by subtractions (no more Boogaard, Hnidy, Irmen, Sifers, Dubielewicz, as examples) as by additions made thru free agency and the NHL Draft. We also know that the rest of the coaching staff (that is, what didn't change following the departure of Doug Risebrough and Jacques Lemaire after 2008-09) will also change going into this season. Mind you, we don't exactly agree with all the subtractions (Owen Nolan, for example), but the dead weight on the Wild's roster had to be eliminated. And, not all of them will find NHL jobs for next season. For some of the eliminated, the future in hockey looks, at best, very bleak, indeed.
On the other hand, relative newcomers such as Colton Gillies (coming off his 2009-10 year with the Houston Aeros), Casey Wellman, Nate Prosser, Tyler Cuma and Marco Scandella will all be on hand, pushing the established veterans hard enough so that some of them may just become something the Wild have rarely had, in their 10-year history: