Nine months after being booted off the Gophers hockey team for undisclosed reasons and only five days before his 23rd birthday, Tyler Hirsch felt as if he was beginning his hockey career over Friday as he slipped on a Wild sweater at Xcel Energy Center.
Hirsch, a Bloomington native invited to Wild training camp on a tryout, took part in a scrimmage playing against the likes of Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra.
"I've been away from it for so long, it's almost like I'm starting all over again," Hirsch said. "My body's still getting used to it. Mentally, it's fun just to come to the rink every day. I missed that."
Hirsch, a skilled winger whose rocky career on the Gophers consisted of disciplinary and academic problems, said he took "a couple months off" to clear his head before beginning to skate over the summer.
"It was just time to myself and time away from hockey," Hirsch said. "I'm sure there's been a lot of speculation about what was the cause. You just kind of let that go in one ear and out the other. You hear it, but I just want to be here and be one of the guys."
Hirsch said he was dismissed from the Gophers because "I didn't do well academically and that was it. It was pretty cut and dry."
He was miffed that the Gophers didn't just divulge that, instead releasing a statement from coach Don Lucia saying, "Tyler Hirsch's hockey career at the University of Minnesota has come to an end. This is a private and confidential matter between Tyler and the coaching staff."
Hirsch wasn't pleased with his performance Friday.
"It could be a short [stay]," Hirsch said. "I could be here just because I live down the road. ... I'm still getting used to the pace. I wasn't very good today. I won't be around for long if I keep playing like that."
Assistant GM Tom Lynn said if Hirsch proves himself, the Wild would be interested in signing Hirsch to a two-way American Hockey League contract, meaning he could play in the AHL or ECHL.
"It's wide-open for him," Lynn said. "I'd like to see what he can do maybe into Houston's camp [starting Sept. 25] before we broach a contract with him."
In Friday's scrimmage, a 5-4 shootout victory by Team Honesty (green) over Team Passion (white), Dominic Moore scored twice for Honesty and Danny Irmen and Branko Radivojevic once. Serge Payer, Stephane Veilleux, Roman Voloshenko and Pavol Demitra scored for Passion. Irmen and Adrian Foster scored in the shootout for Honesty.
On being named Minneapolis-St Paul's most eligible bachelor by Forbes Magazine, a blushing Gaborik said, "I have a girlfriend."
The Wild is planning a mother-son trip during the first road trip in October to Phoenix, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Last season, the Wild did a father-son trip to San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Coach Jacques Lemaire on being on the ice for the first time since April: "My feet are sore."