As a family man, Zach Parise couldn’t imagine Devan Dubnyk living in a hotel with his wife and toddler. As a hockey player, Parise didn’t think his No. 1 goalie should be living in a hotel either.
It’s probably a good thing for a goaltender to get a good night’s sleep every night, especially a goalie who ultimately started his 30th consecutive game, since that Jan. 14 trade, Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
So Parise took an Edina home he purchased from Nick Schultz off the market and gave Dubnyk a “very good deal. It was just sitting there, so might as well,” the Wild winger said, laughing.
Dubnyk jumped at the invitation.
“I thanked him like 100 times,” Dubnyk said. “He keeps saying, ‘No big deal,’ but for my family and I, it’s such a big thing. With so many games between home and travel, it was one less major thing to think about. It allowed us to get settled right away and only think about hockey, and I can’t thank him enough. Plus, it’s a beautiful home.”
Dubnyk has felt so welcomed by the Wild and hopes Minnesota will be home for years. Dubnyk, who is 22-6-1 with a 1.76 goals-against average and .935 save percentage with the Wild and overall among the NHL’s elite statistically this season, is in the final year of a contract that pays $800,000. That teeny contract by NHL and No. 1 goalie standards was a byproduct of a nightmarish 2013-14 season in which Dubnyk was traded twice and ultimately ended up in the minors. He signed for one year and cheap in Arizona just to stay in the NHL.
Dubnyk has been the key to the Wild’s stunning second-half turnaround. And for a team that’s been so unstable in net the past three years, there’s no doubt the Wild will want Dubnyk to stay.
That feeling is mutual.
“It’s just felt right here,” Dubnyk said. “There’s no real reason why it shouldn’t happen. I’ve never been through a negotiation like this or a contract like this, but when you’re going into a situation where it’s obvious that both sides are mutual in wanting to get it done, I’m sure it’s not going to be a problem at all.”
With the Wild fighting for a playoff spot and Dubnyk starting every game, General Manager Chuck Fletcher doesn’t want to create a distraction by introducing a contract negotiation into Dubnyk’s everyday life.
They’ll talk after the season. “Let’s be honest, he’s been pretty good for us and we’ve been pretty good for him, so these things tend to work out,” Fletcher said.
There aren’t many appetizing goalie options available, and the Wild, expected to buy out Niklas Backstrom, knows this. Dubnyk will want to be paid fairly, but he’s also very intelligent. He’s on his fifth team in one year. He experienced the Oilers, where goalies get shellacked. And after playing behind a hardworking, defensively structured team like the Wild, Dubnyk doesn’t want to leave this.
The big question is how much do you pay him and for how long? Is he a one-hit wonder? Or at 28 years old, is he entering his peak years? He certainly looks like a cool, calm and collected goaltender who has reinvented himself. He has brought confidence to the players in front of him that had lost confidence in what was behind them in the weeks preceding Dubnyk’s arrival.
“You can make a long list as to why, and there’s not any why-nots,” Dubnyk said of why he wants to stay with the Wild. “It’s been so much fun and the way the guys, organization, fans and city have treated me, this is where I want to be.
“It’s a really good group, a well-rounded group from the older guys right down to the young guys. There’s no reason why anybody wouldn’t want to be a part of it, so I’m hoping that’s the case.”
NHL Short Takes
The San Jose Mercury News reported that during a Q&A with season-ticket holders, Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said the team stripped Joe Thornton of the captaincy last summer because “he carries the weight of the team on his shoulders and he’s got such a big heart that when stress comes on him he lashes out at people and it kind of impacts them. The pressure and stress, I felt, was getting to Joe.”
Thornton reacted by telling the newspaper that Wilson “needs to stop lying, shut his mouth.”
At last week’s GM meetings, Wilson insisted he and Thornton had patched things up and Thornton’s “going nowhere.”
“Our relationship is extremely strong,” Wilson said. “I know Joe. I appreciate him. I’ve known him since the world juniors. I care about him a lot. He knows how I feel about him.”
An Edmonton Oilers fan witnessed young forward Nail Yakupov do one heck of a good deed last week and tweeted it out. When a homeless man approached a car and asked for money for a coffee, Yakupov got out, walked the man into the Sutton Hotel, bought him dinner and gave him money for a hotel room.
“It’s not that hard,” Yakupov said. “For them it’s huge. For me, it’s nothing if it’s 100 bucks. I like giving money to the homeless, especially guys who are sitting with cats or dogs. I just can’t walk by.
“You can’t help everyone in the world, you just try a little bit, at least.”
I never met Matthew Wuest, but I felt like I knew the talented young man with the amount of times we direct-messaged about the Wild. The creator of capgeek, who died of cancer Thursday at age 36, not only revolutionized the way fans and media knew player salaries and cap hits, it helped us understand the complex rules of buyouts, cap recapture and waivers, and let us play GM by studying free-agency charts.
It wasn’t only us who used the site for reference. I used to see league-office and front-office folks check the site, which unfortunately left us when Wuest’s illness turned grave a few months ago.
We’ll all remember the hard work he did collecting NHL data. He was a true pioneer and is gone way too soon.
WILD’S WEEK AHEAD
Monday: 6:30 p.m. at Toronto (FSN)
Tuesday: 6 p.m. at N.Y. Islanders (FSN)
Friday: 7 p.m. vs. Calgary (FSN Plus)
Saturday: 7 p.m. vs. Los Angeles (FSN)
Player to watch: John Tavares, Islanders
The former No. 1 overall pick is battling for the scoring title.
« It was me, Mikael and Zach just watching ‘Suts’ in beast mode, shaking two guys. »
— Wild defenseman Matt Dumba on the play Ryan Suter made to set up a 3-on-2 with Mikael Granlund, Zach Parise and Dumba before Dumba’s overtime winner Tuesday in Nashville.