Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MANKATO, Minn. — As the Vikings walked off the field at Blakeslee Stadium for the final time Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 8, the memories, good and bad, came flooding back. "Definitely will miss the fans," defensive end Brian Robison said. "Definitely will not miss the dorms." Robison is the longest-tenured player on the Vikings roster and has been making the pilgrimage to Minnesota State Mankato every summer for the past decade.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Matt Kalil, who signed with Carolina Panthers as a free agent, threw some shade at his former team on Monday. In a recent story published by the Charlotte Observer, the 28-year-old left tackle raved about getting to play for Panthers offensive line coach John Matsko. "The first guy I've played for that kind of demands excellence from his offensive line room," Kalil said.
ST. PAUL — Since entering the NHL as a teenager, Mikael Granlund has had the benefit of leaning on countryman Mikko Koivu. Whether it's been questions about adapting to schemes on the ice, or questions about adapting life off the ice, Granlund has been able to rest a little easier knowing he has a fellow Finn around. "He has been such a big help for me during my whole stay," Granlund said. "I've learned a lot from him and I'm really happy we're on the same team."
The Minnesota Wild and forward Mikael Granlund agreed to terms on a three-year, $17.25 million contract, the team announced Tuesday. Granlund, who was a restricted free agent, will receive $5.25 million in 2017-18, $5.5 million in 2018-19 and $6.5 million in 2019-20. Granlund had 26 goals and 69 points in 81 games last season. He had just 12 penalty minutes and finished third in balloting for the Lady Byng trophy, which goes to the player who combines sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct with a high standard of play.
The Minnesota Wild agreed to terms with restricted free-agent forward Nino Niederreiter on a five-year, $26.25 million contract through the 2021-22 season on Sunday. The deal, which carries a $5.25 cap hit, will pay Niederreiter $4.6 million in 2017-18, $6,075,000 in 2018-19, $5.85 million in 2019-20, $4.25 million in 2020-21 and $5,475,000 in 2021-22.
ST. PAUL — Lifelong best friends Jared Spurgeon and Tyler Ennis were working out together at a West Edmonton, Alberta, gym a few weeks ago when a ringing cellphone interrupted them. Ennis stopped his lift and rushed over to answer. It was his agent, Eustace King, calling to say the Buffalo Sabres had traded Ennis, along with winger Marcus Foligno, to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Marco Scandella and winger Jason Pominville. The next few seconds were a blur as Spurgeon and Ennis burst into celebration.
ST. PAUL — Imagine this scenario. You step off the plane in a new country, barely knowing a lick of the language. You're shuttled to a hotel, where there's a brief window of time to relax before reporting to work to meet dozens of new faces. You get a couple more days to assimilate, and the next week is filled with exercises conducted in a foreign language. You're 18 years old. You're overwhelmed. You're also having an absolute blast.
ST. PAUL — Wild winger Sam Anas has no problem admitting that last season was a struggle for him — at least early on. As a rookie with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, the 24-year-old Anas had a tough time adjusting to the professional level. His size, or lack thereof, played the biggest role, as the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Anas quickly realized that some of the things that worked when he was a star at Quinnipiac University wouldn't fly at the next level.
ST. PAUL — Ryan Edquist had flashbacks to the glory days at Lakeville North High School when he saw former teammate Jack Sadek coming right at him on Monday afternoon, July 10, at the Xcel Energy Center. As a goaltender, Edquist had seen this movie before, and knew exactly what to expect from Sadek during the third day of the Minnesota Wild's annual development camp. "He had a bomb back in high school," Edquist said. "I was ready for it."
ST. PAUL — Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve no longer thinks about the last-second, 77-76 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks in the decisive Game 5 of last year's WNBA Finals. "Other than when people bring it up," she said with a smile after practice on Wednesday, July 5 at Mayo Clinic Square in Minneapolis. "It's not at the top of my mind anymore." Reeve, however, understands why Thursday's 7 p.m. game against the Sparks at Xcel Energy Center is being billed as a rematch of last year's WNBA Finals, even if she refuses to call it that.