Jacques Lemaire was the 2003 Jack Adams Trophy winner as Coach of the Year, but in the 12-year history of the Wild, no player has won one of the big voted-upon, end-of-the-year awards.
Wes Walz was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward in 2003 and Niklas Backstrom was runner-up for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender in 2009. Backstrom and Manny Fernandez shared the Jennings Trophy in 2007, but that was an automatic award for giving up the fewest goals in the league.
Could this be the year a Wild player or two earns one of the big trophies?
The team’s media relations department is campaigning to draw attention to Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin as worthy candidates for the Norris Trophy (Suter, for best defenseman) and Calder Trophy (Brodin, for best rookie); Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise for the Selke; and Josh Harding for the Masterton (perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey).
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote for the Hart (most valuable to team), Norris, Calder, Selke, Lady Byng (most gentlemanly) and Masterton trophies.
As far as Wild coach Mike Yeo is concerned, Suter and Brodin are “tap-ins. It’s automatic, and I could add a couple other guys for lists for awards.”
Before Friday’s game against Edmonton, Suter led the NHL in ice time (27 minutes, 13 seconds), was third among defensemen with 32 points and second with 28 assists. Brodin, the youngest defenseman in the NHL at 19, led all rookies in ice time (23:15).
“Ryan has really taken [Brodin] under his wing and guided this kid,” Yeo said. “Whether it’s teaching him about the league and players and what to expect and tendencies, but more importantly, just dealing mentally every day, getting yourself prepared … coming to the rink being a pro, you can’t ask for a better example.”
Up and down
Jason Pominville, elbowed in the face by Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown on Tuesday, missed Friday’s game because of what the Wild is calling an upper-body injury. The Wild has offered no specifics, only to say he is day-to-day.
Speedy Torrey Mitchell took Pominville’s spot on a line with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Kyle Brodziak against the Oilers, while Mike Rupp, who had missed four games with a knee injury, returned and played on the fourth line with Zenon Konopka and Jake Dowell.
“You lose a guy as important as [Pominville] is to our team, it’s tough to overcome,” Brodziak said. “At the same time, a guy like Mitchell is an unbelievable player, too. He’s a guy who hasn’t had all the greatest opportunity to show that this year [playing mostly on the fourth line], but everybody knows what he’s capable of.”
Carson McMillan was recalled in case Rupp couldn’t play, but McMillan was scratched. Defensemen Brett Clark and Nate Prosser were also scratched.
What of Heatley?
Dany Heatley, who underwent shoulder surgery April 8 for a dislocation as well as what’s believed to be a torn labrum, is supposed to be out through the playoffs, if the Wild makes it. He wouldn’t confirm either Friday.
Heatley, who had played full 82-game seasons in five of the past seven years, would only say his shoulder is feeling good.
Talking for the first time publicly since the surgery, Heatley said: “It’s tough to watch. At the same time, it’s an exciting time for the guys and the team and the organization. All these games have been big games down the stretch. So you’re watching each goal and each game and you’re kind of going up and down with the team.
“We’re in good shape. Win a game or two here, and we’re all set. Then the real fun starts.”