Affiliate will be renamed Iowa Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 19, 2013 - 12:28 AM
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Wild owner Craig Leipold

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– Wild owner Craig Leipold, flanked by a large contingent of club and American Hockey League officials, will be in Des Moines on Monday to formally announce the relocation of the Wild’s minor league affiliate.

The long-anticipated move from Houston to Des Moines was approved Thursday by the AHL Board of Governors and was necessitated because the Wild, which has developed its professional prospects in Houston since 2001, was not able to come to terms on a new lease with the Toyota Center.

“Certainly bittersweet,” said Jim Mill, the Aeros general manager who will become GM in Iowa. “Wonderful, wonderful fan support here [in Texas], and I’ve seen it on many different levels.

“But we’re very excited and look forward to making Iowa part of our footprint and part of our fan base.”

Leipold, who will be joined in Iowa by Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka, Mill and AHL President Dave Andrews, will unveil the new team’s logo and name on Monday.

The Wild hasn’t confirmed it, but the Aeros will be renamed the Iowa Wild. It will play its 38 home games at Wells Fargo Arena.

While Des Moines has previously held AHL affiliations twice before, the Wild plans to commit to running the organization and marketing hockey in the community. It’s possible the Wild has part of training camp next season there.

“We’re not moving to be there short-term,” Mill said.

The Aeros had played at Toyota Center since 2003, but the Wild felt it was priced out of the arena and ultimately the city. The Aeros, as Minnesota’s affiliate, won the 2003 Calder Cup and went to the 2011 Calder Cup Finals under now Wild coach Mike Yeo.

On a roll

Jason Pominville entered Thursday night’s game at San Jose with four multipoint games, including three in a row, in the seven he had played with the Wild. Most impressively, he has already developed strong chemistry on a recently assembled line with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Kyle Brodziak.

“Pominville is a huge addition for us, but he’s really helped to elevate Brodzy’s game and Butch’s game as well,” Yeo said before Pominville assisted on Bouchard’s second-period goal, the only Wild goal in the 6-1 loss. “The impact is felt more than just by adding one player.”

When Pominville was acquired April 3 from Buffalo, he was immediately put on a line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu. But the Wild was shut out in three of the four games after that move.

Yeo decided the Wild needed better balance and moved Pominville off the line. Before doing so, Yeo brought the veteran forward into his office to explain the move.

“Some coaches won’t do that. Some will,” Pominville said. “It was good of him to do that. I completely understand. Everyone was going through a tough stretch. Sometimes you have to do something to create a spark and it did. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Goal and assist

Parise scored a terrific winning goal Tuesday at Edmonton when he basically passed to himself from one side of the crease to the other.

“I was trying to tuck it in on the short side,” Parise said. “I think my blade hit the post before I could wrap it to get the angle. I was able to go around the other side and get it in. Unfortunately, I can’t say I did it on purpose.”

Etc.

• Goaltender Josh Harding is scheduled to start the Aeros’ game at the Texas Stars in Austin on Friday night as part of his conditioning stint. Harding, expected to play either Saturday or Sunday as well, has been sidelined since Feb. 12 because of side effects that he had from medication used to treat multiple sclerosis.

• Left wing Mike Rupp (lower body) missed his second consecutive game.

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