Defenseman Nate Prosser, being a good teammate, skated next to a puffing Pat Cannone, to encourage the exhausted veteran minor-leaguer through a fifth 4½-lap sprint at Xcel Energy Center.
“Just get through it buddy,” Prosser urged, saying afterward, “I felt his pain.”
As part of strength coach Sean Skahan’s skate test on the first day of Wild training camp Friday, each non-goaltender had to three times skate the length of the ice 4½ times after a strenuous practice. The first time had to be less than 38 seconds, the next two less than 41 … or else you had to do two more.
Cannone, 30, named the AHL All-Star Game MVP last season after scoring a hat trick, didn’t make it. Neither did Grayson Downing and Alex Gudbrandon. Victor Bartley would have joined them, but got hurt.
“He’s going to survive,” coach Bruce Boudreau cracked. “The guys that passed it with flying colors you could tell really worked hard this summer.”
Players were gasping as Boudreau comically yelled, “Don’t die on me!” while smacking his stick on the ice.
“He had me laughing in between reps. He’s pretty funny,” said forward Charlie Coyle, who finished first in the skate test for his group. “He was racing us up the ice the last couple laps just to show off.”
Veteran Eric Staal won his group, but he said modestly, “Fortunately for me, I’m 6-4, so I have a long stride.”
The Wild’s six World Cup participants and the goalies got off scot-free.
“I don’t get paid to skate forward,” goalie Devan Dubnyk joked.
Players wore heart monitors. After the test, players’ blood lactate was tested to ascertain energy expended, Boudreau said.
It’s the first time a skate test of this fashion was done to start a Wild camp. Players were warned, and during informal skates at Braemar Arena the past few weeks, players prepped.
“But we usually did just one or two of them. Three’s definitely harder,” said defenseman Mike Reilly. “[Matt] Dumba pushed the pace in my group, so I just tried to keep up because we had no clue what our times were. Better play it safe and do three laps instead of five. If I had to do a fourth or fifth one, I’d be straight-legged.”
Assistant coach Scott Stevens, the former hard-nosed, intimidating defenseman, strategically stood at one goal line.
“Nobody’s cheating with him there,” cracked Ryan Carter.
• Carter, the White Bear Lake native who spent the past two seasons with the Wild, he admits being on a tryout is a “bit bizarre.” He had other tryout opportunities, and the question he raised was, “Does it make sense for me to try out for a team that a lot of the people already know what I bring or would it be better for me in my career to get in front of some eyes that don’t know me as well?
“What it came down to is there are 10 forwards on one-way [contracts], so there’s true opportunity to get a job here. Go to another camp, and may have to steal a job.”
• Veteran Tomas Fleischmann, also on a tryout, failed his physical. Boudreau didn’t know if Fleischmann would be released from his tryout, saying doctors are “still doing tests.” In 2011, Fleischmann suffered a pulmonary embolism, but Boudreau didn’t know if this is related.