Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune
Wild's likely first line finally together
- Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
- Star Tribune
- January 12, 2013 - 12:41 AM
Dany Heatley called it a slewfoot.
"He would," said defenseman Ryan Suter, laughing, as he looked for his fellow University of Wisconsin alum.
Late in Wednesday's informal Wild skate, Heatley was taken to the ice hard by Suter.
"Every summer we used to skate in Madison, he'd embarrass me," Suter said of workouts at his father's ice rink. "So I figured I'd try to get him and got lucky there. Plus, I told him it was payback. Last year, he caught me with an elbow" when Suter played for Nashville.
Heatley countered: "It's not my fault that he's way shorter than me. That's fine. We're even now."
It was all fun and games at the Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday. Both Heatley and captain Mikko Koivu arrived, and formed the Wild's anticipated first line of Koivu centering Zach Parise and Heatley.
It was the first day. It was a casual, informal skate of line rushes, 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s. It meant nothing.
But Parise-to-Heatley, Heatley-to-Parise and Koivu-to-both were common denominators.
"They're two great players," Heatley said. "Anytime you're with new guys, it's going to take a little bit of time. How much time that will take, we'll see. Mikko's very easy to play with and playing with Zach just in practice, you can tell he's very easy to figure out.
"We'll see how it goes as it progresses."
Heatley spent most of the lockout at home in Kelowna, British Columbia, skating with the Westside Warriors, a junior team there. Over Christmas, he skated for a week with his brother Mark's German team, the Bietighheim Steelers.
Koivu split the lockout by playing for TPS in Turku, Finland, and skating with the 30 or so Minnesota-based NHLers, like Parise, five times a week.Veterans thrill Koivu
The Wild has missed the playoffs four years in a row. Koivu is excited by this year's team, in part because of the additions of Parise, Suter, Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell.
"Lots of veteran guys in and I think that's important," Koivu said. "They've all been there. They all went to playoffs last year and I think that's important for our team to get that experience. I know the guys from last year's team, we're hungry to get better.
"We were better [the first two months]. We know we can do it, but we just have to be able to do it for a whole season. I think we're ready. But we have to prove it and try to get as good as we can before the first game."
Training camp won't start until Sunday, but the Wild is skating daily in hopes of gaining chemistry.
"We're probably one of the only teams right now that actually has their full team here," Parise said.
Actually Konopka was not at the Xcel but was expected at Thursday's skate for the first time.
"We've thrown together some good practices," Parise said, "and [are] trying to get ourselves the best prepared we can for next week."Dumba in camp soon
Defenseman Matt Dumba, 18, the Wild's 2012 first-round pick who has 23 points in 41 games for Western Hockey League Red Deer, will arrive for training camp this weekend.
"It'll be good experience for him," assistant GM Brent Flahr said. "Obviously the odds are probably against him, but at the same time knowing him and his mentality, he's coming here to hopefully show well and make something happen."
In this truncated season, a team can keep a Canadian Hockey League player five games without burning the first year of his contract.Etc.
• Suter learned Wednesday that he was named to Cosmopolitan magazine's list of "Hottest Players in the NHL, 2013."
"I better get that and give it to my wife," said Suter, saying he once was annihilated by teammates for being named to a similar list in Nashville. Parise didn't make the cut despite making the 2012 list.
• Because the new collective bargaining agreement hasn't been finalized, details of the team's schedule are not yet known.
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