Wild notes: Sometimes, only a sucker throws a punch

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2013 - 11:44 PM

– Tuesday’s lack of response by Wild players to rookie Jason Zucker being on the receiving end of a head shot from Anaheim’s Corey Perry has received criticism from fans in the Twittersphere.

Fans have argued Wild players on the ice should have retaliated at Perry, who was given a five-minute major, game misconduct and subsequent four-game suspension, or later in the game gone after one of the Ducks’ stars.

But Zenon Konopka, the Wild’s resident tough guy, explained why there was no vigilante justice.

“First of all, not one of us saw it,” said Konopka, who wasn’t on the ice during the incident. “When he was laying on the ice, everybody on the bench was like, ‘Did you see it? Did you see it?’ Not one guy saw it.

“But the big thing is, some would say, they’re the best team in the league. We have a power play. The best way at that point when we don’t even see the hit is score on the power play and win the game. That was our mentality.”

The Wild didn’t score on the five-minute power play. Because of that, it was still a 1-0 game, so Konopka said nobody would be foolish enough to then seek redemption and jeopardize the game.

“People have to understand, it’s a long year, it’s a lot of seasons,” Konopka said. “You can’t just think, ‘We need redemption right away.’

“As much as you have to ramp yourself up every game, especially me and [Mike] Rupp, you can’t let your emotions get the best of you or then you’re putting your team at a disadvantage.”

Also, this is not like the old days in the NHL when it was common for players to either leave the bench or instigate fights. There are big ramifications for that conduct now, from penalties to suspensions.

“Ten years ago, I played in the East Coast League, I grabbed guys in the hallway and we fought after the game. You would run down the hallway into the other guys’ dressing room,” Konopka said. “I mean, I played for [hard-nosed] John Brophy [in Wheeling].

“I wish the days were still like that, but they’re not. There’s this [NHL executive] named Mr. [Brendan] Shanahan that I don’t think would be too thrilled with me trying to fight another guy in the dressing room.

“You have to get redemption within the rules of the game. Do we push the rules sometimes? Absolutely. You can push the line, but you can’t drop over it.”

Shuffling the lineup

Coach Mike Yeo made no lineup changes on Saturday against Colorado, meaning Zucker and Nate Prosser didn’t play and Brett Clark didn’t make his Wild debut. Zucker has been cleared to return though.

Clark, a 36-year-old defenseman, was signed last week to provide depth and puts even more pressure on Justin Falk and seldom-used Prosser.

“As long as it makes the team better,” Falk said, referring to Clark’s signing. “You want to be part of the playoffs and part of a push, so either way you’re part of it. I can only control playing my best when I’m out there. The other decisions from other people are things I can’t control, so I’m not going to worry about it.”


• Zucker, almost exactly a year after leaving the University of Denver following his sophomore season, and Prosser, who signed with the Wild in 2010 out of Colorado College, attended Friday night’s DU-CC WCHA playoff matchup at Magness Arena. Zucker’s Pioneers beat Prosser’s Tigers in Game 1, 5-3. Rookies Jonas Brodin and Charlie Coyle came along for the ride.

• Rupp sustained a lower-body injury during a first-period scrap with former Wild draft pick Patrick Bordeleau. Yeo doesn’t think it’s serious.

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