On Friday morning, two private charter flights will take off from the Twin Cities for Los Angeles carrying members of the Wild for All-Star Weekend.
One will carry defenseman Ryan Suter, his wife and son, as well as some of Suter’s friends. The other will transport coach Bruce Boudreau, his wife and one of his children; goalie Devan Dubnyk, his wife and two children; and other Wild staffers.
“Nothing but first class for me,” said an excited Boudreau.
Boudreau is bringing an autograph book, as is his son, Brady, whose dream is to get an autograph and picture with each living honoree named to the 100 greatest NHL players on Friday night.
The one condition? Boudreau forced the 18-year-old to get a haircut Thursday.
Sunday will be Suter’s third All-Star Game but his first since the league implemented a 3-on-3 tournament and $1 million winner-take-all prize pool.
“I told Bruce he needs to make sure to talk to some of these guys and let them know this is serious,” Suter said, laughing. “This is big money. He said, ‘Oh yeah, don’t worry. I want the money more than you.’
“We’re going to try to win some money. You may as well, right? If you’re there, you may as well try to win it. In the past, you’d just throw some saucer passes and joke around with your buddies. But this will be fun, too, because it’s competition.”
Boudreau said the goal is to put on a show and grow the game, but in too many previous All-Star Games the laissez–faire attitude of players made for a poor display and fans were turned off.
“So I’m hoping, as I always do when I’m watching it on TV, that there’s a great effort out there and they put on a great show and people say this is a game that they can’t afford to miss,” Boudreau said before Thursday’s game against St. Louis.
Sunday, after the game, the Boudreaus and Suters will head back to the Twin Cities for Monday’s practice. Dubnyk will spend Sunday night with his parents, brother and sister in L.A., then fly commercial Monday to Edmonton, where the Wild opens a four-game road trip Tuesday.
Kirill Kaprizov, the Wild’s fifth-round pick in 2015, has become the highest-scoring under-20-year-old in the history of the Kontinental Hockey League, which was founded in 2008. He has 42 points in 43 games for Salavat Yulaev Ufa, passing Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had 41 points in six more games in 2011-12.
“He’s had a tremendous season,” Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr said. “It’s a very good league, and to have success like this as an 18- and 19-year-old, it’s commendable. We’re excited about him.”
Kaprizov is under contract another year in the KHL.
“Hopefully then he’s ready to step in and help,” Flahr said.
Asked if that means he’s uninterested in playing in Iowa, Flahr said: “His goal isn’t to play in the American League. He wants to come over and play in the NHL. I think he’s pretty close. Probably another year playing over there getting stronger and a touch quicker, he’ll have a good chance to do that.”
Flahr met with Kaprizov’s agent and girlfriend, who speaks English well, during the world junior championships. They told Flahr that Kaprizov wants to play in the NHL, and he’s working on his English. Nobody from the Wild brass has physically met Kaprizov, and Flahr delivered his 2015 draft jersey to Kaprizov’s girlfriend.
• Teemu Pulkkinen won’t play in the upcoming AHL All-Star Game for personal reasons. Alex Tuch, slated to return to Iowa’s lineup from a shoulder injury Friday, will replace him.
• Defenseman Christian Folin was scratched a third game in a row.