Good evening from Edmonton, where the Wild had an afternoon practice to get ready for the Oilers. Coach Todd Richards was very pleased with last night's shutout at Calgary, but he said it's imperative to keep the foot on the gas against the Oilers, who have won four times in the past 31.
The Wild's lost five of its last six in Edmonton, and Richards talked a lot about the tendency to get up for the teams right in front of you in the standings and then subconsciously have a letdown against the teams below you.
Because the Wild's entering this evening four points out of a playoff spot and still in 13th place, this is a team that can't afford any more letdowns.
Owen Nolan called me from a doctor's office late this afternoon bleeding profusely from his mouth. He was there to get fastened up.
He took a puck to the mouth today and split his lip. It's a shame the puck didn't hit his goatee. The puck surely would have crumbled to pieces.
Nolan was calling me back because I wrote a feature on him, one that will be in Friday's Star Tribune.
The one big piece of news in the article is this: During that Monday meeting with GM Chuck Fletcher that I've been reporting on all week, Fletcher asked Nolan if he wanted to be traded out of respect because he's never won a Stanley Cup.
While Nolan told him he wanted to stay because he still believes the Wild can make the playoffs, Nolan did tell Fletcher that if two teams called, he'd "certainly be interested." The two teams, sources say, were San Jose, where he lives in the offseason and once captained, and Washington.
A number of teams were interested, but in the end Fletcher decided to keep Nolan.
As I reported in today's paper (Thursday's) here, Nolan and Fletcher plan to have a conversation after the season because both sides are interested in the relationship continuing. It won't be just a sign-on-the-dotted-line meeting, however. Fletcher will have to prove some things to Nolan.
“I want to, but I want to see the direction of the team first,” Nolan said. “Will they add players or rebuild? I’m sure Chuck will be open with me about that. Next year might be my last year. I definitely want to go to a place where we can win.”