Chad Graff, St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL -- J.P. Parise, a former Minnesota North Star and a central figure in Minnesota hockey, died Wednesday night. He was 73. Parise was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung...
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund first met as teenagers back home in Finland. Granlund was a much-hyped center with the kind of ability that placed him on teams of older players growing up. That’s how he joined Haula, who at 23 is a year older. They bonded quickly, a relationship spurred by their dedication to hockey and desire to reach the top level.
ST. PAUL —The Wild have kept Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League from stealing one of its young forwards; now Minnesota’s NHL team is trying to keep a young goalie from defecting. Nino Niederreiter, a 22-year-old restricted free agent, has rejected “a huge KHL offer” to continue negotiating with the Wild, his agent, Andre Rufener, wrote in an email. The sides hope to have a deal in place before camp starts Sept.
PHILADELPHIA — The Minnesota Wild selected Alex Tuch, a forward from Baldwinsville, N.Y., with their first-round pick at the NHL draft, 18th overall, on Friday night in Philadelphia. Tuch fits the profile the Wild said they were looking at in the days leading up to the draft. He’s listed as a 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward who said he uses his size to his advantage. Tuch, 18, played for the U.S. Development Team last season and is committed to play for Boston College in the fall. Tuch recorded 11 goals and 14 assists in 56 games for the U.S. Development Team.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Wild’s season didn’t end they way they wanted it to, a funny bounce off the back glass that led to the Blackhawks’ winning goal in overtime Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center. But beating Colorado in the first round of the playoffs and playing Chicago so tough in the second has left Wild players, coaches and fans excited about the future. While Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and the rest of the Wild players take the next few months off to rest and recuperate, it’s time for general manager Chuck Fletcher to get busy.
ST. PAUL — There’s no good explanation, but there’s also no way around it. As the Wild enter their third elimination game of the postseason in Tuesday night’s Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s clear they’re not making it easy for themselves. “We always seem to make things harder than it needs to be,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. The Wild enter Tuesday’s 8 p.m. puck drop at the Xcel Energy Center trailing the series 3-2 after a 2-1 loss in Game 5 Sunday in Chicago.
ST. PAUL — Matt Cooke’s T-shirt was clean and his hat crisp, the tag only recently removed.
CHICAGO — The Minnesota Wild were overmatched in their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks last year, getting knocked out in five games. The Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Wild were left to question whether they were on the right track. Well, if their Game 7 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday in Denver is any indication, they are.
DENVER — Only a few minutes had passed after a crushing overtime loss in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche, but Wild coach Mike Yeo already was looking ahead. The Wild still had to win Game 6 at the Xcel Energy Center to force tonight’s do-or-die series finale at Pepsi Center, but after his team coughed up a 2-1 lead in the game’s final 1:14 and lost in overtime Saturday, Yeo decided to cut straight to the finale. “We have a lot of guys who haven’t played in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Yeo told his team.
ST. PAUL — Mikko Koivu has a protein shake in one hand. With his other hand, he begins wiping down his equipment and organizes the pads the same as he does after every practice. They’re wiped free of ice and sweat and meticulously placed where they’re always placed. Gloves go on top of his locker stall, where he has all six of them — more than any other Wild player — organized in a pyramid. On this Saturday afternoon, he’s breaking in a new pair of skates in advance of the playoffs, so he pays extra attention to those as he removes them.