Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — A couple of weeks into training camp, top prospect Luke Kunin is still hanging around. He hopes he can say the same on Oct. 5, when the the Minnesota Wild open the regular season against the Red Wings in Detroit. "My goals have been the same the whole time," said Kunin, who signed an entry-level contract in March following his sophomore season at the University Wisconsin. "I want to make the team."
ST. PAUL — Wild coach Bruce Boudreau returned to the team Thursday morning, Sept. 28, after missing the past few days while mourning the death of his younger brother, Bryan, who died unexpectedly Saturday night. A celebration of life was held Wednesday in Toronto. While this week has been hard on the entire family, it seemed therapeutic for the 62-year-old Boudreau to return the team. "Yeah," he said. "It's good to be back."
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Wild cut nine players Wednesday morning, Sept. 27, including goaltender Niklas Svedberg, who had been battling to be backup to goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Svedberg's demotion means South St. Paul native Alex Stalock, 30, will open the regular season on the roster, which now sits at 26. It must be down to 23 before the regular-season opener Oct. 5 at Detroit. Stalock played 50 games with the Iowa Wild last season.
ST. PAUL — As the national anthem protests expand across the professional sports scene, Wild alternate captain Zach Parise doesn't anticipate his team following suit. Asked whether he thinks members of the Wild will continue to stand for the national anthem once the regular season starts next week, Parise responded, "Yeah, for sure." Parise continued, saying he would "never" kneel during the national anthem, though he respects someone's right to do so. "You're not going to see me do it," Parise said. "It's a personal thing for me."
ST. PAUL — A whirlwind couple of months for Woodbury native Brennan Menell has culminated in an entry-level deal with the Minnesota Wild. Menell, 20, signed on Tuesday morning, Sept. 26, and was expected to join the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (AHL) on Tuesday night. "It's a dream come true, for sure," said Menell, who immediately called his mother, Shannon, after signing the contract. "I've put in so much effort and work. This was always the team I wanted to be playing for growing up. This is the best-case scenario for me."
ST. PAUL — A year ago, South St. Paul, Minn., native Alex Stalock started blazing his comeback trail as nothing more than a feel-good story. He grew up about 15 minutes from the Xcel Energy Center rink, so his one-year, two-way contract with the Minnesota Wild seemed like an act of good faith more than anything else. A year later, Stalock is proving to be much more than that. He is the frontrunner to be the team's backup goaltender this season, meaning the hometown kid could play a pivotal role in the success of the hometown team.
ST. PAUL—Just call Woodbury native Brennan Menell a late bloomer. After failing to make the varsity team during his sophomore year at St. Thomas Academy, and failing to snag a scholarship offer from any collegiate program, the 20-year-old Menell is well on his way to getting the last laugh. As a relative no-name that even diehard Wild fans couldn't pick out of a two-man lineup, Menell has spent the last week at training camp trying to earn a professional contract.
ST. PAUL—There's one simple rule inside Wild owner Craig Leipold's suite: He sits in this same seat for every game and no one is allowed to sit in the seats directly next to him. Leipold hosted members of the media for the preseason game Saturday, Sept. 23, under the guise that everyone follow that one simple rule. Leipold was as chatty as could be before the game. As soon as the lights dimmed, though, he made a beeline for his seat.
ST. PAUL — As perhaps the only Wild player willing to drop the gloves at a moment's notice last season, there were times when 6-foot-2, 240-pound Chris Stewart was left out on an island by himself. Not that he would complain about it. "It's definitely second nature to me as a player," Stewart said. "You know, it can be a little harder sometimes if I'm on the fourth line and I'm only playing 10 minutes a night to be barking every other shift. ... It definitely helps to have someone else that can do the same thing."