A familiar face stopped by the Wild's morning skate Saturday.
John Madden, the former Wild center and veteran of 13 NHL seasons, brought his 11-year-old son, Tyler, whose favorite player is Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, to Xcel Energy Center.
Tyler, an up-and-coming hockey player in Edina, and three buddies watched the Wild skate along the glass as Madden's former teammates skated by to excitedly reunite with his father. Then, Tyler watched Datsyuk's every move during the Red Wings' skate.
"Good player for him to idolize," Madden said.
Madden, 38, is currently without a job but still maintains hope that the Wild wasn't his third and final team.
If it was, "I had a great career," said Madden, a three-time Stanley Cup champ and winner of the 2001 Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive player. "If I'm done, then it'll be a different chapter of my life. If you have to move on, you have to move on."
Madden, who will coach his son on the 1999 Minnesota Blades select team next spring and summer, turned down opportunities in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League after not being able to land an NHL job this offseason.
"There was a lot of talk with a lot of teams, but nothing really ever came about. It was frustrating," said Madden, who has played 1,001 regular-season and playoff games for New Jersey, Chicago and Minnesota. "There's not much going on out there for me right now. I'm just hanging out with the fam and waiting to see if something transpires or not.
"But it's unfortunate when you're sitting there thinking, 'Hey, man, if somebody gets injured, I get to play.' It's not the feeling you want to have."
Madden watched the Wild's skate with a big smile. At one point, goalie coach Bob Mason flipped a puck over the glass that Madden snagged with one hand.
"Still got it," Madden said before tossing the puck to Tom Chorske's son, Brett, who was wearing a "Madden" No. 11 Wild sweater.
Madden said the fire still burns to play, especially now that the NHL season has begun for the first time since 1999 without him.
"That part gets you every once in a while," Madden said. "But you know what? If I was a GM, I would be giving opportunity to the young guys, too. They deserve it. There's a lot of guys here that deserve it. I'm not bitter about anything."Bulmer's time limited
The Wild has said that it only makes sense to keep rookie Brett Bulmer, 19, in the NHL if he is getting quality ice time and a significant role.
But in Tuesday's shootout loss at Ottawa, Bulmer didn't play in either the final 7:50 of the third period or in the overtime. In Thursday's shootout victory against Edmonton, Bulmer logged 4:27 on the fourth line.
Coach Mike Yeo said he would like to get Bulmer more ice time.
"Both games we were chasing a win, and because of that, the top lines got more ice time," Yeo said. "I actually really liked [Bulmer's] game [against Edmonton]. He was really involved. ... It's not a matter of not having confidence in him. It's more just a matter of situations and matchups and trying to find that next goal."
With Matt Hackett the clear No. 1 goaltender in Houston and Dennis Endras backing him up, the Wild reassigned Darcy Kuemper, the Western Hockey League's Player and Goaltender of the Year last season with Red Deer, to Ontario of the East Coast Hockey League so he can get regular starts.