Former Wild Schultz has fond memories of Minnesota

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2013 - 11:33 PM

Oilers and former Wild defenseman Nick Schultz (15)

Photo: Jason Franson, Associated Press

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The time made the transition easier, Nick Schultz said, talking from the visiting locker room at Xcel Energy Center for the first time in his career.

Still, it was strange. Schultz, 30, is a defenseman who was drafted by the Wild in 2000 and made his NHL debut during the 2001-02 season. By the time he was traded to Edmonton for Tom Gilbert Feb. 27, 2012, he had played in a franchise-record 763 games.

He faced his old team for the first time Feb. 21 in Edmonton. But Sunday's game between the Wild and Edmonton was his first back in Minnesota, and that brought back some memories.

"This became home for us," Schultz said. He and his wife Jessica have a son and two daughters, all of whom were born in Minnesota.

"My family enjoyed it here. We'd go back to Canada every summer, but this became home. I owe the Wild a lot. They drafted me, gave me the opportunity to play. Walking into this building brings back some memories.''

His strongest memory here? That one's easy. It was during the team's drive to the Western Conference finals in the spring of 2003. First round against Colorado, Game 6, when Richard Park scored in overtime in a 3-2 victory.

"That was the most electrifying game I was a part of here," Schultz said. "Actually a lot of those games during the playoff run were pretty special. This is a good hockey market; we got into the playoffs and had some success. This was a fun place to play.''

Oilers' Hall sits out

Fans hoping Oilers winger Taylor Hall would get some comeuppance Sunday will have to wait until next time the two teams play.

Hall, who was suspended for two games for his hit on Cal Clutterbuck on Feb. 21, missed the rematch because of a sore hamstring. Hall was injured Friday. And while Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said Hall was feeling much better, he was held out of the game.

"We want to err to the cautious side of this type of injury," Krueger said.

Not that revenge was No. 1 on anybody's list in the Wild dressing room anyway.

"We just want to move on," center Kyle Brodziak said. "Just let it be."

Whirlwind year

Less than a year ago Jason Zucker was wearing a Denver University sweater and playing playoff hockey. Saturday night, he watched his old team as a spectator. Zucker was at Mariucci Arena to watch the Pioneers-Gophers game, with teammate Charlie Coyle in tow.

"I wanted to show him how the WCHA is better than Hockey East," Zucker said of Coyle, who played at Boston University.

Zucker still is amazed at all that has happened since he last played for Denver in an NCAA regional loss to Ferris State March 23, 2012. He signed a contract with the Wild four days later and made his NHL debut two days after that. Saturday was his first time in Mariucci as a spectator.

"I was talking with my dad about that [Saturday] night," he said. "I feel like I last played college hockey like 10 years ago."

Etc.

• Clutterbuck, who missed his fifth consecutive game Sunday because of a thigh contusion sustained on the Hall hit, has begun skating on his own. He still is listed as day-to-day.

• Defenseman Nate Prosser and forward Zenon Konopka were healthy scratches.

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