The Wild announced its CONDENSED exhibition schedule today. Training camp opens Sept. 17 and the Wild opens the preseason Sept. 22 at home against St. Louis. It'll be the beginning of six exhibition games in nine nights, including three in three.
I think this puts a lot of pressure on coach Todd Richards to manage his training camp to protect players from injury. If you remember, injuries basically derailed Richards' first camp behind the Wild's bench.
Also, my opinion is one reason why the Wild always got off to outstanding starts under coach Jacques Lemaire is because Lemaire had a philosophy to pretty much play his entire lineup throughout the preseason. There were very few auditions.
If you remember, that's why it was such a big deal last year when guys like Matt Kassian and names like DiSalvatore and Milroy got looks. Players who had no prayer of making the team rarely got looks under Jacques. But Richards had no choice between the injuries and games, like that St. Louis one, starting three days into camp.
Veterans hated playing almost every game under Jacques, but I think that created symmetry by the start of the season, which was one big reason why the Wild always started better than most other teams. With this schedule, it'll be impossible for Richards to play the real roster the majority of the exhibition games.
The plan right now is for the Wild to fly to Helsinki, Finland, immediately after the Sept. 30 exhibition game against Columbus and practice soon after it lands in Finland to get accustomed to the time change. On that plane will essentially be the Wild regular-season Opening Night roster. So we'll know who's making the Wild waaaaaayyyyy sooner than most training camps.
The Wild will play one exhibition game Oct. 4 against Ilves in Tampere, Finland, before opening up the 2010-11 season against the Carolina Hurricanes in Helsinki on Oct. 7 and 8.
The regular-season schedule will be released June 22.
Here's the preseason schedule:
2010-11 MINNESOTA WILD PRESEASON SCHEDULE*
DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME (CDT)
Wednesday, Sept. 22 St. Louis Blues Xcel Energy Center 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24 at St. Louis Blues Scottrade Center 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 25 Philadelphia Flyers Xcel Energy Center 7 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 26 at Montreal Canadiens Bell Centre 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 28 at Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena 6 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 30 Columbus Blue Jackets Xcel Energy Center 7 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 4 at Ilves Tampere Tampereen Jaahalli Arena (Tampere, Finland) 11 a.m.
*Dates and times subject to change
Season-tickets are on sale now. Information on individual tickets for the preseason and regular-season will be announced at a later date.