Wild notes: Nashville broadcaster, GM hospitalized
- Article by: Michael Russo
- Star Tribune
- February 6, 2014 - 11:51 PM
Paramedics had to make two trips to Xcel Energy Center during an eventful morning Thursday.
Longtime NHL broadcaster Pete Weber, the only TV play-by-play voice in Nashville Predators history, suffered a heart attack. Two hours later, Predators General Manager David Poile was struck by puck while standing in the tunnel between the visitor’s locker room and bench.
Both men were taken to separate St. Paul hospitals, where they remained overnight.
Weber was resting comfortably after a heart procedure.
“I was more scared than anything,” Weber said. “I’m wondering if David and I may be roomies.”
Poile was hit in the face by a deflected puck. He was treated by Predators and Wild athletic trainers before walking himself to a stretcher.
He looked groggy, had a bloody nose and puffed-up eye. He had surgery Thursday to repair fractured eye socket, sources said.
Poile doubles as the GM of the United States Olympic men’s hockey team, and all NHL Olympians are scheduled to leave together for Sochi, Russia, on charter flights Sunday.
“It was above the eye, so hopefully there’s no damage to the eye,” coach Barry Trotz said Thursday morning. “That’s the danger of being in that tunnel. It seems like it’s real safe, but it’s not. It was a hard, rocket pass that came across that skipped and hit him pretty flush, so we hope that everything’s fine there.”
Goalie Niklas Backstrom didn’t back up Darcy Kuemper for the Wild’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Predators because of abdominal soreness.
Backstrom, who underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia last May, missed a Jan. 7 start in Los Angeles and a Jan. 21 game in Dallas for the same reason.
He is listed day-to-day, and coach Mike Yeo said he hopes the Olympic break will enable Backstrom to get 100 percent.
Beginning Feb. 27-28 in Edmonton and Vancouver, the Wild has six sets of back-to-back games during the stretch drive, so “we’re going to need him,” Yeo said. “I know last year was a condensed schedule, but this year has felt every bit the same.”
With Josh Harding’s health situation uncertain, Yeo was asked if the Wild needs to address goaltending before the March 5 trade deadline. “I’m just hoping that Backy’s going to be 100 percent, because if he is, then we’ve addressed it,” Yeo said.
Johan Gustafsson was recalled to back up Kuemper, then reassigned back to AHL Iowa after the game.
Of the Wild’s unrestricted free agents, two the team might be interested in re-signing are defensemen Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser.
GM Chuck Fletcher said he might have conversations with a few agents during the Olympic break.
“But I’m content to wait until after the season,” Fletcher said. “If a player wants to stay and you want him to stay, it’ll work out.”
Switching practice sites
Beginning Feb. 19, when the Wild can resume practicing during the break, the team will change practice facilities when there are conflicts at Xcel Energy Center. It will go from St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights to Braemar Arena in Edina.
The Wild will make renovations at Braemar, and there are locker-room showers available, so players no longer will need to dress at the arena and bus to and from practice. The rink also is closer to the homes of many players.
• Erik Haula was reassigned to Iowa for the Olympics. Stephane Veilleux cleared waivers and also was reassigned to Iowa.
• Jason Zucker is having what the team called a minor procedure, and it hopes he will be ready after the Olympic break.
• At 11:15 a.m. Feb. 23, the Wild will hold an outdoor practice at Roseville’s John Rose OVAL. It is free and open to the public.
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