Jarod Palmer was eating his pregame meal expecting to play the Texas Stars for Houston on Friday night when Aeros GM Jim Mill called.
"Hey, get packed, get ready, you're coming up," Palmer said, repeating Mill's words on the morning of his NHL debut Saturday night vs. the Islanders. "Simple as that. Short conversation, but it was music to the ears."
The Fridley native became the 12th Minnesotan to wear a Wild sweater and first to wear No. 79. He skated on the fourth line, mostly with Warren Peters, and did so in front of what he expected to be 100 friends and family members, including his dad, Jeff, who "taught me everything I know about the game."
Palmer became the 10th rookie to play for the Wild this season (tying the team record) and 33rd skater. He had six shots in the 2-1 shootout loss.
"He's a guy that's going to play well without the puck, pay attention to detail and be reliable and in good position," coach Mike Yeo said. "But he understands where his bread and butter is -- down low in the offensive zone."
Bouchard, Wellman, others sit out
Right wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard (nose) and left wing Casey Wellman (wrist) didn't play Saturday, meaning with Mikko Koivu (leg), Devin Setoguchi (knee) and Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) sidelined, the Wild was short five top-six forwards.
Bouchard, who skated during the morning skate, went from a game time decision to not even skating warmups. That meant defenseman Greg Zanon returned from being a healthy scratch and the Wild used seven defensemen.
Koivu tested his injured leg in a tracksuit Saturday and is expected to at least travel on the road trip. Setoguchi, who has missed five games, should also travel. Latendresse (concussion) will be shut down for awhile, Yeo said.
As for Wellman, who has missed two games, Yeo said, "You see him shoot the puck. He can't go out and play the way we need him to play."
With the Wild depleted, Yeo talked with each player on the Darroll Powe-Kyle Brodziak-Nick Johnson line.
"There's going to be increased opportunity, increased ice time and increased responsibility, but I don't want their game to change," Yeo said. "Those guys have been leaders for us in how we want to play the game. Sometimes you can try to put the team on your shoulders in situations like this and next thing you know you get away from the things that make you successful."
Phillips learns tweet lesson
Wild prospect Zack Phillips got his hand slapped and a lesson in social media from the Wild minutes after signing his first NHL contract Saturday.
From his Twitter account, "zachphillips7," the 2011 first-round pick tweeted, "just signed my first NHL contract! #minnesotawild."
He deleted the tweet in 20 minutes -- long after word spread quickly. Problem was the Wild hadn't received the signed contract back yet, filed it with the league or announced it.
Nevertheless, Phillips has agreed to his three-year, entry-level deal that begins once he turns pro. He will continue playing in Saint John, where he ranks sixth in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 52 points in 31 games. The contract will be filed Monday.
Last month, the Wild was irked when goalie Matt Hackett tweeted he was recalled from Houston.
Some rivalries never end
Last week in Los Angeles, Dany Heatley, a proud former Badger, joked about Jeff Taffe, "This is the first time I've ever had a Gopher on my line."
Saturday, Matt Cullen centered Heatley. Asked if he's ever had a St. Cloud State Husky on his line, Heatley said, "No, but better than a Gopher."