CALGARY, ALBERTA – This is Jarret Stoll’s 13th season, so when the 33-year-old center says John Torchetti’s way of running a bench is “a little unique,” you know it must be different.
The interim Wild coach usually gives two calls — and maybe eventually three once his new players get used to the process — for possible line changes. It’s then up to the players to know when it’s their turn to go on the ice.
“He’ll be like, ‘Mike, your line’s up. Zach’s line, be ready,” said Zach Parise.
Before each game, the new Wild coach tries to get certain matchups and writes them on the locker room board before games. Then players know who they’re supposed to go up against.
Against Vancouver, he wanted the Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle line out against the Sedin twins every shift with the Ryan Carter-Stoll-Justin Fontaine line as the backup in case Koivu’s line was just out there.
“So I give two calls. If we have a certain matchup, then I have a second line that goes if that matchup’s not there and the other line knows not to go out there if the other line jumps,” Torchetti said. “So they’ve got to be ready and pay attention to the game all the time.”
Torchetti does this because he’s often talking to players and might not be looking at the ice.
“He’s into the game, he’s involved and he sees stuff and he tells you stuff. It’s great,” Parise said.
This is something Torchetti learned from coaching in Chicago with Joel Quenneville.
“Joel’s active on the bench, and I am, too. Joel’s got three calls sometimes,” Torchetti said, laughing. “It makes the bench a lot of fun. Players are like, ‘What did he just say?’ ”
“You have to really pay attention,” Parise said.
Added Stoll, “ ‘Torch’ likes to match lines, so those matchups are key to try to get the right guys out there at the right time against the right people. So we have to be awake on the bench to see who jumps over boards for the opposing team. There’s a lot of talk on the bench. He’s talking a lot, we’re talking a lot, and we have to. We don’t want to get ourselves caught.”
If the Wild has a bad line change or a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty, Torchetti says it’s the players’ fault, not the coaches.
“That’s your job. I know my job. I gave you your matchup,” Torchetti said, laughing. “On the road, it’s tougher. At home, it’s easy [because I have last line change]. I mean, at home I shouldn’t have to even say a word. I like this because with the players, it builds in that focus that they have to be paying attention to the game, too.”
Not benching, just lost
Against the Canucks, Koivu logged 20 minutes, 5 seconds, Coyle 19:51, Mikael Granlund 15:55 and Parise 15:54. The other eight forwards played between 12:28 and 14:43.
There were multiple reasons: The Wild and Canucks each drew four power plays, the timing of TV timeouts, the rhythm of the Sedin twins line changes and Torchetti’s desire to be a “four-line team.”
So, veterans such as Thomas Vanek (12:45) and Jason Pominville (12:39) weren’t benched.
“No, they got lost and I tell them, ‘Hey, I owe you,’ ” Torchetti said. “That’s the game. I tell players all the time, ‘Hey, I might have missed you,’ or, ‘I felt another line was a good matchup,’ or something. I go with my gut. There’s no benching involved in stuff like that.”
Yeo behind the scenes
Assistant coach Darryl Sydor believes former coach Mike Yeo left a lasting impression.
“I think he turned the organization around,” Sydor said. “He brought the organization an identity. We played fast, but we played fast with structure.
“And he cared about a lot of players, he had loyalty and a lot of players’ backs through this that a lot of people don’t see. But we know behind closed doors what goes on, and he stuck his neck out there for a lot of players. It’s tough to see him go.”
• Defenseman Marco Scandella missed Wednesday’s game because of an upper body injury. He left the morning skate early. Nate Prosser, scratched in Vancouver, returned. … Winger Chris Porter was scratched for the fifth game in a row and sixth time in seven games.