CHICAGO – Get off Mike “Doc” Emrick’s back, Wild fans.
If the legendary play-by-play man says Mikael Granlund’s last name is pronounced “GrAHn-lUHnd,” it is.
Since November, when Emrick personally asked Granlund how to pronounce his last name, the NBC broadcaster has been driving some Wild fans batty by the way he changed it whenever he calls Wild games. Emrick reiterated his story during the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the Wild on Sunday night.
However, when the Wild’s No. 2 center was asked to confirm the pronunciation Sunday morning, Granlund admitted that if we asked his mother, she would say, “GrAHn-lUHnd.”
The thing is, Granlund has no problem with Wild fans and broadcasters Americanizing his last name. In fact, he’s the one who Americanized it for fans and media because he thought it would be easier for us.
“I don’t really care,” Granlund said, laughing.
Europeans often have their names Americanized. Granlund’s first name used to be pronounced like the common “Michael,” until he admitted it’s actually pronounced, “mi-KIGH-ehl.” Jonas Brodin finally admitted last year the first letter of his first name isn’t a hard J but a ZH.
The most infamous Wild example was defenseman Marek Zidlicky. It went from zid-LICK-ee to ZHid-LICK-ee to ZHid-LITZ-kee. Some players never bother doing the correcting. Former Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson went his entire NHL career having his last name pronounced y-AHN-sun when it was really y-OON-sun.
When Emrick told Granlund, “The good thing is it doesn’t affect your play one way or the other the way it’s pronounced,” Granlund said, “Exactly. Who cares?”
And Granlund is playing well. He is second on the Wild with six postseason points. Linemate Zach Parise has nine.
“He really came into his own last year in the second half of the year and the Olympics,” Parise said.
Haula’s time comes
Center Erik Haula found out he was in Sunday’s lineup on a line between Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak when he arrived in the morning and saw his name on the locker room marker board.
“It was a great feeling,” Haula said.
Haula, because of Justin Fontaine’s groin injury, finally debuted this postseason after being scratched in the Wild’s first seven playoff games.
“It’s not about me. It’s about me coming in and helping,” Haula said. “It’s not about what happened before, it’s about this team and playing as well as we can [Sunday].”
Coach Mike Yeo said Haula’s speed and his past performances against the Blackhawks were the deciding factor as to why he played over Jordan Schroeder, Ryan Carter and Sean Bergenheim.
Haula scored three goals and two assists and was plus-4 in six playoff games against Chicago last year.
“It wasn’t about beating up on Haula,” Yeo said. “There were other guys that just deserved to be in the lineup. And we were choosing to only dress 12 forwards.”
Great without goals
Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa is goalless in the playoffs but has been quite the playmaker. Hossa, 36, has seven assists in eight games and set up Jonathan Toews’ shorthanded goal Sunday.
In fact, some teammates hadn’t even noticed his alleged slump.
“That’s news to me,” Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “Seems like he scores every night. He’s such a great player for us. He’s been huge all playoffs long.”
Perhaps it seems that way because once Hossa gets the puck, he makes it difficult for opponents to take it away from him. His speed and strength along the boards create openings for the Blackhawks.
“You notice him a lot with or without the puck because he’s always around it,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “His instincts are always poised the right way, the team game gets reinforced with him out there.”
Hossa has 17 points in 13 career playoff games against the Wild.
Not a good follow-up
Thomas Vanek had his first career two-assist playoff game in Game 1 and the Wild hopes it gets more efforts like that out of him. However, Vanek was a team-worst minus-4 in Game 2.
“Probably his best game of the playoffs,” Yeo said of Game 1. “He was involved in an awful lot of scoring chances for us, and he is a guy, if you want to call him an X-factor, who can be a difference-maker in a series like this.”