ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Wild owner Craig Leipold, making the Southern California portion of the Wild road trip to enjoy some fun in the sun, planned to take the training staff to dinner Saturday night.
But laundry and changing arenas with back-to-back games meant for a late night for the trainers, so Leipold’s thank you for all their hard work will be rain-checked. Instead, Leipold took Bruce Boudreau and his coaching staff to dinner.
“It was nice because it turned into a celebration for Bruce getting to coach the All-Star Game,” Leipold said.
Plus, as Boudreau cracked, “It’s always great when the owner’s taking you out to dinner. He picks up the tab.”
Because the Wild is assured of the best points percentage in the Central Division through Tuesday’s NHL action, Boudreau will return to Los Angeles to coach the Central during All-Star Weekend Jan. 27-29.
“I’m grateful,” Boudreau said before the Wild beat the Ducks, his former team, 2-1 Sunday night. “I’ve got five other assistant coaches that work their rear end off to help me get there, and I seem to be getting the credit. It’s got to be shared, and the players, too.
“They’ve bought in and they’ve played really hard, so it’s a tremendous honor.”
The top 100 players in NHL history will be named Jan. 27.
“I don’t think I made that list,” quipped Boudreau, who is excited about all the festivities.
“I’ll be like a kid in a candy store. I’ll be getting more autographs than I think any other kid will be,” Boudreau said.
As for being back in Anaheim for the first time since being fired in April, Boudreau exhaled audibly before the game when asked if he was happy to be back.
“I like the weather,” said Boudreau, who coached the Ducks to four straight division championships. “Seeing people that I haven’t seen is pretty cool. I made a lot of friends. It’s like old home week, almost. … I think we accomplished a lot. Those guys in that other room here, I’ll remember forever.”
De facto dealer?
With GM Chuck Fletcher conducting scouting meetings elsewhere, Leipold took over the general manager’s booth during Sunday’s game and joked trades were coming.
“I told Bruce: ‘I’m the guy out here. This is the time. I’m going to take a hard look at the players,’ ” Leipold said, howling. “Bruce said, ‘You and I, we need to talk.’ ”
Boudreau said that’s hogwash.
“He was talking. We were listening. We weren’t making any suggestions, believe me,” Boudreau said.
Multiple sources tell the Star Tribune that all NHL teams will be permitted to have only home and road jerseys next season as Adidas takes over for Reebok as the official outfitter of NHL uniforms.
There will be no third jerseys, in order to make the initial implementation of new sweaters easier.
The Wild is in the midst of deciding whether to go with red or green home sweaters. If the Wild chooses green, which sounds probable, the jersey likely will be slightly redesigned from the current third jersey.
After a strong first 19 games, defenseman Christian Folin has been erratic in nine games since missing seven because of a sprained knee ligament. He has been alternating in and out of the lineup with Nate Prosser lately, but Folin played Sunday despite a tough game at Los Angeles the day before.
“He’s got to play and get back there,” Boudreau said. “He can’t be a game-in, game-out guy. He was really solid before he got hurt.”