Denver's Jason Zucker celebrates a goal against Colorado College last year.

Mark Reis, Associated Press

Wild prospect Zucker enjoys hockey field trip

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • March 7, 2012 - 9:24 AM

DENVER - Jason Zucker, one of three Wild second-round picks in 2010 and a sophomore forward at the University of Denver, attended his third Wild game of the season at the Pepsi Center Tuesday night.

Like the good college student he is, Zucker, preparing to play Wisconsin this weekend in a first-round series of the WCHA playoffs, always uses the opportunity to study.

"It's fun to go out and see the Wild. I like watching hockey," said Zucker, who came with Pioneers teammate and Florida Panthers draft pick Sam Brittain. "I know a lot of hockey players that don't really enjoy watching hockey just because it engulfs their life so much as it is.

"That is not me. I enjoy watching and especially learning. When I go to a game, I don't sit there and cheer. I watch different things and try to learn the NHL game because my goal is to get there."

The big question many Wild fans want to know is, When will Zucker turn pro? Lately, and as recently as last week, General Manager Chuck Fletcher has said how exciting it is for the Wild that "six forwards are turning pro next year."

Fletcher is clearly including Zucker, although when pressed, Fletcher clarified it will be "up to the player. At the end of the year, we'll sit down with [Pioneers coach] George Gwozdecky and Jason and see where everybody feels he's at. We're not going to go in the middle of the night and take him out of there.

"There are going to be conversations. Certainly though, I think, we have opinions of what we feel would be right."

Zucker said he's made "no decision whatsoever" about his future.

"I am focused 100 percent on the present and what myself and Denver has to do to make it to the national tournament," said Zucker, who is tied for seventh in the WCHA with 20 goals and sixth with 42 points in 31 games. "I have seen numerous times that Chuck has said that, and I do respect the fact that he has said that and acknowledge [the possibility].

"Coming from one of the best GM's in the league, it's exciting to hear. But I'm not worried about that now. When the season comes to an end, it's something we'll talk about further with Coach Gwozdecky, my dad [Scott] and Chuck to figure out the best option for myself.

"As far as now, I'm coming back to the University of Denver."

Brodziak has no regrets

With the Wild already without injured Mikko Koivu, center Kyle Brodziak took himself out of the game for 17 minutes in Tuesday's 7-1 loss after instigating a fight with Jamie McGinn.

Brodziak was defending teammate Marco Scandella, who was checked hard into the boards.

"I don't regret it at all," Brodziak said. "I don't know if the hit was dirty or not, but just the fact he hit our D-man, who was vulnerable. I hope it's something Scandy appreciates. If the same thing happened to me, I'm sure he'd do the same."

Brodziak's loss left an already shorthanded lineup even further in flux, but coach Mike Yeo said he had no problem with Brodziak's response.


Nick Palmieri (upper body) returned to the lineup Tuesday, but Cal Clutterbuck missed the game because he wasn't feeling well. The Wild hasn't said he's sick, however.

He was questionable to play Sunday after a hard collision Friday in Detroit with Justin Abdelkader and fell face-first in the runway Sunday after taking a glove to the face from Colorado's David Jones. ...

Defenseman Kurtis Foster played 12 shots -- two through the first two periods totaling 62 seconds -- because his back seized up before the game.

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