Day One is in the books.
The most interesting part of the first day of training camp was the grueling skate test the team’s new strength coach, Sean Skahan, put the Wild through, but the biggest news of the day was Tomas Fleischmann, signed to a tryout because of his versatility, skill and familiarity with Bruce Boudreau after playing for him in Hershey, Washington and Anaheim, failed his physical.
Not many details here as of now and his agent, Rich Evans, hasn’t returned my message yet, but Boudreau said doctors were still doing tests on Fleischmann. So it sounds like a medical issue (not fitness). In 2011, he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism to have his season with the Avalanche ended, but Boudreau didn’t know or wouldn’t say if it’s related.
All this would seem to indicate his tryout with the Wild will come to an end before it even started, but to be fair, Boudreau didn’t say yet he has officially been released from his tryout.
Hopefully all’s well with Fleischmann, who after talking with him a few days ago, was real excited about the opportunity to play for the Wild.
The Wild still have Ryan Carter in on a tryout looking to battle for a roster spot. And, if the Wild finds that its roster hopefuls just aren’t ready yet, it could look elsewhere to sign an unsigned free agent. Remember, all tryout guys leaguewide are still free agents, so just because a player is on a tryout elsewhere doesn’t mean he can’t sign with another team.
As for the first day of camp, Zach Parise arrived this morning fresh off his flight from Toronto. He dropped off his equipment, said hello to all and will hit the ice for the first time Monday with fellow World Cup eliminated participants Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula.
Nino Niederreiter will be off until at least late next week depending on how Team Europe does in its semifinal Sunday afternoon against Sweden. If Europe upsets the Swedes, we won’t see Niederreiter until early October.
If you didn’t see the Finns lose to Russia on Thursday, Koivu was nailed on the right ankle or foot by an Evgeni Malkin shot (guy’s a menace; he broke Haula’s jaw in the world championships a few years back). Koivu limped off, beat the heck out of the bench door and left the bench. He played the third period though. Often with injuries like this, you don’t know the extent until you take off the boot, but Boudreau indicated it’s good news that nobody’s given him a report that Koivu’s not OK.
The Wild usually has skate tests to open camp, but today’s was the most grueling I’ve seen them do.
Each non-goaltender had to three times skate the length of the ice 4 ½ times after the strenuous practice, which including resurfacing (so you know it was a long practice).
The first 4 ½ laps had to be under 38 seconds, the next two under 41.
If over that time, you had to do two more.
A couple guys looked like they were going to keel over, which is why Boudreau kept yelling, “Don’t die on me!”
Pat Cannone really had trouble in the first group, and good teammates like Nate Prosser hopped the boards to try to encourage them by saying things like, “Just get through it, buddy.”
Cannone and Grayson Downing didn’t make it and had to do the five laps, which was kind of scary to watch. And Cannone’s no slouch. This guy was the Chicago Wolves captain last season and was the AHL All-Star Game MVP after scoring a hat trick.
In the second group, Alex Gudbrandon got the punishment treatment. Victor Bartley would have, but he got hurt.
“I think he’s going to survive,” Boudreau cracked. “The guys that passed it with flying colors you could tell really worked hard this summer. The guys like Eric Staal and in the first group, the veteran guys, they got through it pretty easy, which is why they did three instead of five times.”
Staal won his group and said modestly, “Fortunately for me, I'm 6-4, so I have a long stride.”
Charlie Coyle won his group, Matt Dumba won his.
The goalies didn’t have to do it, nor do the World Cup guys. “I don’t get paid to skate forward,” goalie Devan Dubnyk joked.
Players wore heart monitors. After the test, each player had to get a finger pricked to test the blood lactate so it could be ascertained how much energy players expended and still had to give, Boudreau said.
“You need a barometer every year,” Boudreau said. “It used to be coaches [would tell players they’d have to do] five miles in this time or ride the bike 26 miles in this time. I always thought that was stupid. Why don’t you work on something on-ice conducive? So when I heard of this test,” he thought, Yahtzee.
He did this test every year in Anaheim except last year. So after the Ducks went 1-7-2 out of the gate last year compared to their normal strong starts, Boudreau said he was bringing this back with Skahan, his strength coach also in So. Cal.
It’s the first time a skate test of this fashion was done to start a Wild camp. Jacques Lemaire used to do the 24 laps around the circumference of the rink in like 2:45, I think.
Players were warned of this one, and during informal skates at Braemar Arena the past few weeks, players prepped.
But Jared Spurgeon said it was much easier there because they had the clock and if they knew they had 10 seconds, they could glide to the finish.
“Here,” Spurgeon said, “you don’t know if you’re one second away from having to do five of them.”
Boudreau said if he had to do this in his playing days, “I would have collapsed after one. I would have had a green garbage bag on me to sweat and it would have been all over.”
As for other tidbits, please read the two articles in Saturday’s paper for a lot more like Ryan Carter talking about his tryout, etc., but really Boudreau was happy with Day One, which was spent mostly on defensive zone stuff.
It was a bigtime battling practice today.
He cautioned that he doesn’t want to go all crazy because it was the first day, but he really liked Staal’s day and noted that he can obviously still skate since he won the skate test.
He liked his line with Jason Pominville and Jordan Schroeder and liked Jason Zucker with Coyle and Chris Stewart.
Remember, lines are meaningless with the six World Cup guys not here and Fleischmann gone. For instance, with no Koivu and Haula, Coyle had to play center.
Players were excited to get back at it.
“We’ve been waiting for this the last month,” Dumba said. “It was pushed back from normal years too (because of the World Cup), so I think everyone’s excited to get this thing going and start playing some real hockey.”
Added Dubnyk, “It’s nice to get the high intensity stuff” after summer skates.
Said Boudreau, “It’s a tough practice when you’re doing a lot of battling like that. You want to get them in a battle mode early because playing shinny, there’s no hitting.”
That’s it for now. Lots of stuff in the paper. I’ll update the blog if I get further clarity on Fleischmann, but it also could be a private health matter right now.
Also, a reminder, it’ll be a busy Saturday in St. Paul.
The Wild will hold a free, open-to-the-public practice at Xcel Energy Center from 9:45-11:15 a.m. Gate 1 opens at 9 a.m. Single-game regular-season tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. at the arena Box Office and at 12 p.m. through Ticketmaster. Herbie’s On the Park, the new restaurant at Wild headquarters, has its grand opening at 10 a.m. for brunch and the Wild Breakaway 10K/5K/1-mile run begins at 8:30 a.m.
Also, at noon Saturday, if you’re interested in the four Star Tribune Fans Night Out games that include Chalk Talks with Wes Walz and myself, go to wild.com/fansnightout.