Jordan Schroeder has been through this once or 10 times before. There’s always the elation of getting the call from Minnesota, but it’s eventually followed by the return to Iowa.
“Not everyone has an easy road,” Schroeder said before his season debut and 52nd NHL game over three seasons Tuesday. “It’s been difficult for me, but I think mentally I’ve overcame a lot of challenges. You look at a lot of people, they crumble and they fall apart when they keep getting sent down, but my mental attitude has been pretty outstanding from what I’ve seen and how I’ve handled it.
“So, it’s deserving to get that call. A lot of hard work goes in behind the scenes … so it’s good to get rewarded.”
Schroeder, 26, the American Hockey League player of the past week, was recalled with Tyler Graovac and Christoph Bertschy because Zach Parise, Erik Haula and now Zac Dalpe are sidelined.
Dalpe underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Monday to repair a lateral meniscus tear. He’ll miss four to six weeks and was placed on long-term injured reserve so the Wild could exceed the $73 million salary cap and afford to recall a third player.
“I feel bad for him,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Dalpe, a minor league journeyman with 128 games of NHL experience. “I was using him more and more, and I still have confidence in him, but he competed, he fought for us. … This was his opportunity to stay here, not that he’s going anywhere. But an injury derails that momentum that he had.”
Schroeder began Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres on an all-Iowa fourth line with Graovac and Bertschy. Schroeder was a “little shocked” to not make the Wild out of training camp, but always-honest Boudreau said Schroeder didn’t show “enough, evidently.”
Schroeder feels he has done a good job staying positive despite the constant shuttle between Minnesota and Iowa.
“Mentally, you have to stay positive and just keep going and not give up and not quit. That’s been the hard part,” he said. “I have expectations of myself, I have high goals. And whenever I don’t reach those goals, it’s disappointing. I feel like I let myself down.
“But usually it takes me a few hours, maybe a day, to kind of regroup.”
Graovac, despite scoring his first NHL goal against Dallas one game ago, remained on the fourth line.
“Too much too soon sometimes becomes a problem,” Boudreau said. “He’s played one good game, let’s try to build on that and make it two. And all of the sudden, you get a consistency factor.”
Graovac said his phone has blown up since he scored against Dallas. That exhilaration of scoring his first goal quickly dissipated when General Manager Chuck Fletcher called Graovac and Bertschy, while they were foam-rolling and having protein shakes, into his office for a quick demotion after Saturday’s game.
“He said, ‘You know what, Grao, I know you’re getting sick of this, but we’re going to have to send you down,’ ” Graovac said. “He’s a very personal GM. He seems to develop a really solid relationship with me and he just said, ‘You know, Grao, we’ve got to send you down for money reasons. So just keep rolling and we’ll get you back up as soon as we can.’ ”
Boudreau said with so many injuries, this is a chance for Graovac.
“When one door closes, another one opens,” Boudreau said. “There’s obviously a spot there, so it’s a little bit like training camp. We’re waiting for somebody to come up and grab it and say, ‘It’s mine and that’s it.’ ”