GLENDALE, ARIZ. - On the tarmac outside the Wild's charter to Phoenix on Wednesday, Chuck Fletcher handed Charlie Coyle his cellphone: "Charlie, Brendan Shanahan ..."
And with that, the Wild rookie went silent as the NHL's Disciplinarian in Chief lectured him about high hits.
As Coyle listened intently, the entire time he was essentially thinking, "I'm on the phone with Brendan Shanahan."
"I was kind of in awe," Coyle said of Shanahan, the type of power forward (656 career goals) that Coyle aspires to be. "I almost wanted to ask for an autograph, though it was probably the wrong time. He was a pretty good player in his day and I remember watching him a lot. So it was kind of cool to talk to him."
Coyle, with a big laugh, said, "I don't want to talk to him again, though." That's because the next conversation might not end with Coyle getting off scot-free. He was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing Calgary's Matt Stajan on Tuesday. Video showed it was actually a shoulder and the initial contact hit Stajan's upper chest. Coyle's momentum led to significant contact to Stajan's chin, though.
"He just said it wasn't a bad hit -- and he knows I wasn't going after the guy's head -- and to keep finishing checks, but I can't be making that a common thing to be that high up on his chest," Coyle said. "I had no clue what was going to happen, if I was going to get suspended or what. You never know. But when he called and said they were going to let it slide, it was a load off and big sigh of relief."
Coyle, who scored his first NHL goal at Calgary on Saturday, played his second consecutive game Thursday at Phoenix on the top line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu.
"I don't think we're fully tapped into what he can bring to us, and that's understandable for a young kid," coach Mike Yeo said. "We're making it pretty tough on him, throwing him on the top line and obviously that comes with a little bit more expectations.
"Playing with his size is going to be important me, [as well as] making sure he's a physical presence out there and making sure he's strong on pucks."
Cullen's Spuds advance
Center Matt Cullen was sky-high Thursday because his alma mater, Moorhead, beat Brainerd 2-0 on Wednesday in the Class 2A, Section 8 final to advance to the state tournament in St. Paul next weekend.
Cullen's cousin and former high school teammate, Peter Cullen, coaches the Spuds. He took over this year for Dave Morinville, who stepped down after 15 seasons. Morinville originally took over for Matt's dad, Terry. "Peter loves it," Matt Cullen said. "He's so passionate about it, so this is really cool."
The Wild isn't practicing Thursday, so Cullen will be able to attend the Spuds' game with his wife, Bridget, and three sons.
Center Zenon Konopka was scratched for the fourth time in five games Thursday.
"Obviously, you want to play," he said. "You train and you live to play, and it's real frustrating not playing. But decisions are made, and I'm here to be a positive guy and to be a leader, so I still have to lead in the right direction if I'm in the lineup or out."
Defenseman Nate Prosser was scratched for the 10th time in 15 games.