Stitches are early status quo for Wild's Konopka

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 21, 2013 - 11:36 AM
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The Wild's Zenon Konopka needed 30 stitches across the bridge of his nose after getting hit by a high stick on Saturday's season opener against Colorado.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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With 30 stitches across the bridge of his nose and the bottoms of both eyes discolored, Zenon Konopka emerged from the trainer's room Sunday morning with a smile on his face.

"Better looking again," Konopka said.

Konopka has had 93 NHL fights. Nobody has more penalty minutes in the league since 2009.

So frankly, it was the fitting look for Konopka, after being forced to wait out the lockout before making his Wild debut the night before.

"It's what we waited eight months for -- to get back into old-time hockey," Konopka said.

Konopka is "old school" all right.

Asked if he planned to play Sunday night against the Dallas Stars, Konopka basically rolled his black eyes. Asked if he planned to wear a visor, Konopka said, "Probably not." He didn't.

Asked if he still could fight if he needed to, Konopka said, "I can't let it change my game. If something happens, they can restitch it."

Konopka said he didn't know if his nose was officially broken, because when you've broken your schnoz as many times as he has, it's not a big deal.

"This isn't a first-time thing," he said. "Puts me up over 550 stitches [in my face] now. You live and learn. Some of the old lessons you never really learn."

Konopka didn't get injured in his fight with Cody McLeod early in the game. It was actually a high stick that drew a four-minute penalty late in the second. And, despite his nose leaking blood like a faucet, Konopka kept playing for 10 seconds until there was a whistle.

"There wasn't anything wrong with my legs," Konopka said. "I never really understand that whole, 'Everyone goes down when they're hit in the face,' but everyone's their own person."

Last week, Konopka joined Twitter for the first time (@zenonkonopka). After Saturday's game, Konopka tweeted a picture of the destruction of his face as he held his rabbit, Hoppy.

Asked why it took him so long to join Twitter, Konopka said: "The teams I've been on in the past thought I'd get myself into a little bit of trouble because I like to speak my mind, so they kind of shied me away from it. But actually being honest, it's been quite fun interacting with the fans. It's gotten me to understand the Minnesota fans and the community a lot quicker.

"... It's a hockey state, it really is. No offense to Detroit [dubbed Hockeytown], but people bleed hockey here and understand hockey here. This is a real Hockeytown and hockey state."

A shift in duties

Matt Cullen was the Wild's top faceoff winner last year, winning 53.2 percent of his draws. That ranked 25th in the NHL.

But Cullen has started as the left winger on the second line with Mikael Granlund and Devin Setoguchi. He took three faceoffs to Granlund's 11 in Saturday's opener.

"The plan initially was to have Cully take the faceoffs and then switch with Mikael," coach Mike Yeo said. But Granlund was so good in training camp, the Wild has altered that thinking for now and will have Granlund take the majority of the faceoffs. He has essentially been instructed to cheat because if he is tossed from the circle, Cullen can take them. That happened a lot Sunday.

Etc.

• Jonas Brodin, who underwent surgery to repair a broken clavicle in November, skated in warmups Sunday night in Peoria with the Houston Aeros. The 19-year-old defenseman might return Wednesday in Milwaukee, meaning his NHL debut might not be too far into the future.

• The Wild's Matt Kassian and Matt Dumba were scratched for the second game in a row.

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