Zach Parise shaved the previous day.
Jason Zucker made sure his beard was looking sharp, while Nick Seeler prepped with a haircut.
Jared Spurgeon checked for bed head, and Eric Staal applied product.
“I threw a little gel in this morning to make sure it wasn’t a total rat’s nest,” Staal said.
Usually tucked under a helmet and behind a visor, NHL players’ faces can be tough to discern from the seats or even a high-definition television when they’re chasing the puck or squirting water into their mouths on the bench.
But their mugs, with or without teeth, are front and center when it’s time to take their official headshot for the season on the first day of training camp.
And while Wild players don’t obsess over their looks, they do care enough to put some effort into an image that’ll identify them to the world for the next year.
“With social media we have now and the way the fans want to connect with us, too, I think it’s just something that you should as an NHL player nowadays just kind of accept that role of wanting to connect with your fans and showing the guy outside the helmet,” winger Marcus Foligno said. “No one can really see what color of eyes we have when we’re going that fast on the ice. But when we can slow it down a bit, you want to catch as much as you can for the fans and it helps the game.”
Commemorating the season with photos is a tradition that follows players through the ranks.
From the peewee days of solo shots bent over a stick that turn into magnets or buttons to the annual group pictures from center ice that decorate the hallways of NHL arenas, preserving each season is a staple of the game.
“My mom has all of them since I was 5 years old,” Staal said. “We’ll do the same for our kids. They’re fun to see.”
Unlike the headshots from youth, players don’t tend to keep copies of their NHL profile pictures, but they’re aware of where they end up — in print, on television broadcasts and maybe even “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” during a game of “Tonight Show Superlatives.”
“It’s going everywhere,” Parise said.
As players made their way to the headshot station on the first day of camp, which was Sept. 12, they planted their feet on either side of a T taped to the floor and posed in front of a gray backdrop while their jerseys were adjusted. They don’t wear equipment underneath.
Four to five pictures were snapped, smiles and glares were equally accepted, and players put their trust in the photographer to get an embarrassment-free shot.
“You know when you’re in a group photo and then usually, no offense but, the girls are like — they get the phone back and say, ‘Oh, that looks terrible,’ and they give it back,” Foligno said. “That’s what I wish I could do, but I’m not doing that.”
Players aren’t always pleased with the final product.
Greg Pateryn thought he looked “a little weird” last season, and Parise remembers a few forgettable avatars from earlier in his career.
“Lucky this was before everything went viral,” he said.
Similar to yearbooks, these photos track how players change from season to season — especially their hairdos.
Staal’s longer locks weren’t planned, but Foligno’s were.
“I’ve seen a couple photos over the years. It’s kind of the same haircut,” Foligno said. “I let my hair grow this year.”
Matt Dumba has a goal to have a different style in his headshot every year but nixed a plan to debut a mustache.
“I didn’t want the Vote for Pedro look,” he said, referencing the “Napoleon Dynamite” character who’s known for that specific type of facial hair.
Instead, Dumba added a goatee to his mustache — this after previous snapshots included a beard and braids. This time, he kept his hair short and had his signature diamond studs in his ears.
“Guys with the long hair, they’re in front of the mirrors slicking it back, running a comb through it, putting the gel,” Dumba said. “I don’t know what these guys do.
“What do you put in that?” he asks Foligno. “Mayonnaise and olive oil?”
“I wake up like this,” Foligno said.