Wild's Setoguchi replants roots in new icy home

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 5, 2011 - 8:43 PM

Newcomer Devin Setoguchi, the NHL's only half-Japanese player, found a farm accident steered him toward a promising future.

hide

Devin Setoguchi, right, joined the Wild in a draft-night trade that sent Brent Burns to San Jose. The Wild is hopeful Setoguchi will help provide the scoring punch it has lacked.

Photo: Andy King, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Dany Heatley sat in the next stall, eavesdropping on Devin Setoguchi's story.

As his former San Jose Sharks and current Wild teammate showed off the scar, Heatley grimaced.

"That's when he figured it was waaaaaay easier to score goals," Heatley said.

He chuckled, but he wasn't kidding.

Setoguchi easily could have become a potato farmer in Taber, Alberta, like his father. But when Devin was 10, he sliced off the top of his left index finger on a conveyer.

"That kind of turned him off a bit," said Dale Setoguchi, more than a decade after his son's freak accident. "He kind of got gun-shy being around the farm after that. He was always thinking in his mind he didn't want to be a farmer.

"It worked out pretty good for him because I don't think I wanted to see him back here either," Dale said and laughed. "He probably wasn't cut out for it."

All turned out well for Devin Setoguchi.

He is 24 and making millions as one of the NHL's rising young goal-scorers. After beginning his career in San Jose, where he gained immediate success by scoring 31 goals during his first full season, Setoguchi has arrived in Minnesota, where a larger role and greater ice time seem certain.

None of this shocks proud father Dale, who was the Alberta Junior Hockey League's MVP in 1979.

"Devin was always a hockey player," Dale said by phone, taking a break from the thick of the potato harvest. "Hockey's his love. Even after he smashed his finger -- and it was quite an incident -- a week later he put a cap over it, taped it up and away he went.

"He didn't want to miss any games. He's lucky to be doing what he's doing, and he realizes it."

That's why anybody who talks about Devin Setoguchi says he's a guy who never has a bad day at the hockey rink.

"Always in a good mood," Heatley said.

A family's journey

Setoguchi knows things always could be worse. It's a lesson learned from his grandparents, Ken and Nancy, who still live in Taber, a town of 7,000 filled with farms and oil patches an hour north of the Montana border.

Setoguchi is a fourth generation Japanese-Canadian. His grandparents, born in British Columbia, were removed from their homes during World War II and placed in an internment camp.

"The theory behind it was anybody who was Japanese, even if they were American or Canadian, would be loyal to Japan and be spies," Setoguchi said.

His grandparents, who weren't together yet, spent four years imprisoned behind barbed wire. When the war was over, they returned to their homes in British Columbia only to find other families had moved in "with all their stuff in it."

"My grandma still gets fired up. She lost a lot of valuable stuff," Setoguchi said.

Ken and Nancy, along with about 15 other families, relocated to Taber to work the sugar beet fields. Ken began Setoguchi Farms in an area where today, Setoguchi says, there are roughly 10 farms run by Japanese families.

Setoguchi is proud that "I'm the only half-Japanese player in the NHL."

His favorite player growing up was Paul Kariya, whose father was a Japanese-Canadian born in an internment camp.

"My grandma, she has possibly every piece of memorabilia of the San Jose Sharks and now will get every piece of Minnesota Wild memorabilia," Setoguchi said. "She's got a 12-foot-sized poster shrine of me on the inside of their garage. She has a wall with probably 150 pictures of me."

Says Dale Setoguchi: "My parents were Devin's biggest fans from the day I put a pair of skates on him. They never missed a game, and still don't."

Change in plans

Setoguchi was blindsided the night of the NHL draft this June.

With the event in St. Paul and not knowing how the hometown fans would respond, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher executed a gutsy blockbuster by trading fan favorite Brent Burns and a draft pick to the Sharks for Setoguchi, top prospect Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick that became Zack Phillips.

"When he got traded, he was very disappointed," Heatley said of Setoguchi. "He was a good friend and a good teammate, so I called him that night and told him, 'It's going to be good there. You're going to like it. They traded for you because they want you.'"

Heatley added with a loud snicker, "Ten days later, he called me: 'It's going to be good there. You're going to like it. They traded for you because they want you.'"

Setoguchi admits it took time to get over the trade, which came one day after he signed a three-year, $9 million contract so he could continue to grow with the Sharks' core.

"It just kind of stunk the way it happened," Setoguchi said. "I respect [the Sharks] so much, and I grew as a player there a lot. I was traded for a guy who could be one of the best defensemen of the league.

"But I was just upset because you go so far in the playoffs, you go to the conference final two years in a row, and there's this anger when you lose. So there was this motivation to get a new deal done and, 'OK, Let's win a Cup now.' You want to be a part of that, and then a day later, you'r not."

But Setoguchi is long past the disappointment.

After living in a peaceful suburb of San Jose near the mountains, Setoguchi's living in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, fighting the traffic and discovering favorite sushi restaurants.

"I've got to stick to my roots," he joked.

Called "Techno Gooch" in San Jose because of his love for techno, Setoguchi might even start playing the guitar again after frustration drove him to smash his two others into pieces.

His jam partner in San Jose was Rick Bronwell, but Setoguchi quit playing when Bronwell became a Wild assistant equipment manager. Now they're reunited.

"Our biggest attempt was Stone Temple Pilots' 'Interstate Love Song,'" said Bronwell, who has conversations with Setoguchi in fake Japanese. "He'd play one part. I'd play the other part. Didn't sound that good. Then he started throwing his guitars. I'm like, 'Dude, come on, just give them to me.'"

With the Wild

Most of all, Setoguchi is looking forward to a bigger role in Minnesota. After years of battling for ice time behind wingers such as Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, he will move from right wing to left on the most legitimate first line in Wild history.

Skating in the preseason with center Mikko Koivu and Heatley, Setoguchi scored a goal and had four assists as the trio combined for five goals and 11 assists in three games. He has shown to be a super-fast, super-aggressive, offensively gifted player with a knack for the net. His legs are always moving, which leads to induced penalties and power plays.

And his shoot-first mindset is why Fletcher acquired Setoguchi and Heatley, a two-time 50-goal scorer.

"You have to have guys like that," said former Wild coach Todd Richards, now an assistant with Columbus who coached Setoguchi for one year in San Jose. "[Setoguchi and Heatley] are finishers and proven goal-scorers. When they lost [Marian] Gaborik, we had lots of guys who wanted to pass but nobody who was willing to shoot and, once they got the opportunity, could actually finish."

Setoguchi knows he still has to earn his first-line duty to stay there, and one way would be to become more consistent. He's a streaky scorer, which was proven last season when he followed a miserable first half with an exceptional second half and postseason (seven goals, including two overtime winners).

"Sometimes a fresh start is good," Setoguchi said. "We're definitely motivated, not only Dany and myself but the whole group of guys and coaching staff. We've got a little swagger going where we can start fresh and erase whatever memory people had of this team in the past and try to build and move forward.

"I'm just excited. I'm young. I'm not married. I just kind of fend for myself and have fun and love the things I'm doing right now. I know a lot of other people would kill to be in the position that everyone in this dressing room is in."

  • 2011-12 NHL SEASON

    Opening night: Thursday • Wild opener: 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Columbus • Xcel Energy Center • TV: FSN

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 114 FINAL
New Orleans 88
Utah 86 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Atlanta 104 FINAL
Houston 97
San Antonio 93 FINAL
Dallas 99
Indiana 73 FINAL
Denver 76
Milwaukee 102 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 7 FINAL
Toronto 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Montreal 4
Washington 4 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Florida 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Chicago 2 FINAL(SO)
Columbus 3
Nashville 6 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 5
Calgary 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
St. Louis 2 FINAL(OT)
San Jose 3
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 76
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 FINAL
Akron 92
NJIT 84 FINAL
Central Conn St 76
Hofstra 77 FINAL
Columbia 82
Boston Univ 62 FINAL
Dayton 78
Iona 81 FINAL
George Mason 86
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
Kansas State 71
Morgan State 69 FINAL
Manhattan 73
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Marist 58
East Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 63
La Salle 67 FINAL
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 110 FINAL
UMKC 104
CS-Bakersfield 59 FINAL
Idaho State 50
Iowa 44 FINAL
Northern Iowa 56
Milwaukee 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 61
Long Beach State 68 FINAL
Texas 78
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
TCU 88
SE Missouri St 67 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Lehigh 84 FINAL
Arizona State 81
New Mexico 69 FINAL
New Mexico St 67
Oklahoma 67 FINAL
Washington 69
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Weber State 73
Jacksonville St 60 FINAL
Northern Colorado 69
St Edwards 55 FINAL
Grand Canyon 81
NC State 69 FINAL
West Virginia 83
TX A&M-CC 75 FINAL
CS-Northridge 68
Cal Poly 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 63
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Pacific 71
Montana State 60 FINAL
Portland 87
Ball State 57 FINAL
San Diego St 70
South Dakota St 68 FINAL
Utah State 65
Stanford 77 FINAL
BYU 79
Utah 59 FINAL
UNLV 46
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 66
Washington 74 FINAL
UC-Riverside 71
Pacific 43 FINAL
Long Beach St 53
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Austin Peay 62 FINAL
Montana 83
Lewis-Clark State 48 FINAL
Idaho 74
(21) Miss State 73 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 36
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close