Devan Dubnyk’s neck guard that is attached to his chest protector is old, frayed and stained, and Dubnyk … loves it so much, he has worn it since juniors.
As you can tell, the Wild goaltender doesn’t like changing equipment as it is, let alone in the middle of the hockey season.
Yet, on Feb. 4, all NHL goalies will be directed to begin wearing more contoured pants that originally were supposed to be ready at the start of the season. But manufacturing problems, especially by Dubnyk’s company, CCM, delayed things.
Dubnyk still wasn’t satisfied when his new pants arrived.
“For some reason, the [inner thigh guard] that runs in the back was half the size of the old one, so I wouldn’t wear it because if I’d go down in my butterfly, I’d take one on the inside of the leg,” Dubnyk said.
So, with permission from NHL executive Kay Whitmore, Wild assistant equipment manager Rick Bronwell removed the thigh guards from Dubnyk’s new pants and inserted the thigh guards from Dubnyk’s old pants.
Dubnyk still isn’t delighted, but at least he’ll have slimmer pants with proper protection. He has started wearing them in pregame skates and will don them in a game for the first time Feb. 4 in Vancouver.
“I personally don’t agree with changing things in the middle of the year,” Dubnyk said. “I talked to Kay, and he’s doing everything he can to help us out as well as move along the process.
“My problem is every goalie’s different, and I don’t like to change my equipment. I haven’t worn a new pair of pants in the middle of year before, and now I’m being forced to, which is a frustrating scenario.”
The league also is working toward smaller chest protectors. Dubnyk asked Whitmore to make sure that when that rule begins that goalies receive the equipment in the summertime.
“If I got the pants in September, I would have started the season with them no problem,” Dubnyk said. “It’s a process, and I get it. It’s a visual thing, and I understand why they want to do it and why it’s important. But I don’t think the pants are that much of a necessity that it needs to be switched in the middle of the year.”
Owner turned coach
Wild owner Craig Leipold dabbled in coaching Friday night during the Gophers-Badgers outdoor alumni game in Stillwater. Leipold was supposed to be Wisconsin’s celebrity assistant, but Jeff Sauer was ill, so Leipold had to fly solo.
“I was the motivator, did the line changes, disciplined them when necessary and gave them my best Herb Brooks speech,” Leipold said, laughing.
Leipold lost his coaching debut 7-4. Near the end, the referee looked at Leipold and said, “Hey coach, you want to call a timeout?”
“I said, ‘Yeah, Timeout!’ ” Leipold gathered his team and diagramed an illegal play. He instructed three or four Badgers to jump on the ice every few seconds until finally the entire team was out there.
“We didn’t score,” Leipold said, laughing.
• After being a healthy scratch Saturday against Anaheim, Tyler Graovac, who had one point in his past 27 games, played against Nashville.
“As the fourth-line center right now, he’s got to be the responsible one,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “At the same time it doesn’t mean quit playing hockey. When you get the opportunity, you win battles, you go for goals.”
• Defenseman Ryan Suter’s goal and two assists in a span of 1:59 against Anaheim on Saturday were the fastest three points by one player in Wild history. The last NHLer to have three points in less than two minutes was the Blues’ Alexander Steen (1:59) on Nov. 11, 2014, vs. Buffalo.