SUNRISE, FLA – Martin Hanzal admitted Friday morning he has had a tough time adapting on and off the ice to the first trade in his NHL career, and for that the Wild plans to be patient.
“You’ve got to understand,” a sympathetic coach Bruce Boudreau said hours before Hanzal’s best game with the Wild during a 7-4 win over the Florida Panthers. “He spent 10 years in one organization and the last seven, I think, with the same coach. It’s an adjustment period for him.
“I know when I moved from organization to organization how different it is, whether it’s good or bad, it’s different. We’re trying to find out what his role is, and who’s best suited to play with him on that role. That’s why he’s had almost different linemates every night. We’re hoping that ends pretty soon, that he knows his role, that he knows his linemates and that his linemates know him.”
Boudreau sung Hanzal’s praises after the game by calling him a “beast” and saying he showed why the Wild traded for him. Hanzal brushed off a nasty slash to the left hand with an assist, three shots, five hits, 12 faceoff wins and a drawn penalty.
Earlier in the day, the 30-year-old said he was trying to get used to the vastly different systems and styles of the Wild and Coyotes.
“There some different stuff,” Hanzal said. “It’s a new coach, right? He wants something different than my old coach wanted, so it’s different. But I’m trying to adjust myself and hopefully I’ll adjust quick enough.”
It has been hard for Hanzal because the Wild has essentially been on the road since the trade. So he has been living out of a suitcase from hotel room to hotel room. He also desperately misses his wife, 5-year-old son and 2½-year-old daughter, who returned to the Czech Republic in late February because Hanzal knew he’d be dealt somewhere.
His family plans to come to Minnesota after the Wild returns from its five-game road trip.
“When you don’t see your kids, your family, it’s tough,” he said. “It’s something new for me, but I’m trying to just focus on hockey right now and leave everything behind me because this is where I belong right now and I want to help this team to win.”
A Gophers reunion
Panthers center Nick Bjugstad is enjoying playing alongside newly acquired and fellow former Gopher Thomas Vanek, who faced the Wild on Friday night for the first time since the Wild bought out the final year of his contract in June.
Vanek, 33, who was traded from Detroit to Florida on March 1, won the national championship in 2003 with the Gophers and was named the Frozen Four MVP.
“I’ve been watching him since I was a little kid,” said Bjugstad, 24. “Just to be on the same line with him is pretty exciting. He brings a lot to this lineup and adds depth offensively. I know what his skill set is around the net. You get it to him around the net, he’s probably going to bury it.”
Bjugstad, a former Blaine star, still keeps an eye on the state tournament. He listened to Stillwater’s final game on his cellphone (his cousin, Jesse, played for Stillwater). Bjugstad once lost in the state semifinals to Eden Prairie, led by Nick Leddy and Kyle Rau, after holding a 2-0 lead going into the third period.
“You never know this time of year. One-game elimination. I wish it was a series,” said Bjugstad.
• Defenseman Matt Dumba, who missed two games because of an illness, returned and replaced rookie Gustav Olofsson, who has been sidelined with an upper-body injury. Winger Jordan Schroeder was scratched for a fourth consecutive game.
• Left winger Nino Niederreiter faced no discipline for his knee-on-knee that injured Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson on Thursday.