Beautiful day here in the Twin Cities, and the Wild's currently enjoying the weather with its first full team day off of training camp.
They're 11 practices in with opening night on the horizon Thursday in St. Louis, and while coach Bruce Boudreau has given specific players days off throughout camp depending on their workload or maybe if they played the night before, this is the first official full team day to get away.
In fact, Boudreau forced assistant coaches Scott Stevens, Darby Hendrickson and John Anderson to go fishing.
"I didn't want them in the office because they need a break," said Boudreau, who of course was, uh, working today.
In fact, he plans to attend Iowa's first of two practices in the Twin Cities today at 3 p.m.
One player who will be in that practice is Tyler Graovac. He cleared waivers at 11 a.m. and was assigned to Iowa's camp.
If you didn't see today's Wild piece here, I wrote a feature on Marco Scandella, who was really kind to sit down Monday. He opened up about how difficult a season it was for him last year. He dealt with the physical pain of a serious injury he played through from January on, and he dealt with the emotional and mental toll that came with the death of his father in December.
Scandella had a number of real poignant things to say.
In addition, I know a lot of fans don't get into the articles early in the camp, but with the season quickly approaching, I highly recommend starting to pick up the Star Tribune daily. I have a number of cool articles and features in the works, including a crazy one that will appear in Friday's editions.
Also, please try to attend the Star Tribune Season Preview on Monday at noon with Wes Walz, Anthony LaPanta and me. Michael Rand is running the show and if you attend, you can get a Russo's Rants T-shirt!!!
Wednesday, after practice, Boudreau got overruled, so to speak.
He planned a paintball outing for the team because he did it in Washington, and he said there was nothing funnier than the next day when the players got in a room and watched the video of all the funny, embarrassing things that happened during the competition.
But, the guys wanted to go golfing, so at Edina Country Club, team operations manager Andrew Heydt organized a Wild Ryder Cup tournament.
The Europeans and Canadians were pitted against the Americans, although to make the teams (made up of players and locker-room staff) 8 vs. 8, Christoph Bertschy and Zac Dalpe competed on the American side.
The Europeans/Canadians won the event by overall point total, although if they did Ryder Cup scoring, the Americans would have won.
Mikko Koivu captained the Euros/Canadians and Ryan Suter captained the Americans.
The best golfers? For the Euros/Canadians: Erik Haula, Devan Dubnyk, Eric Staal, Nino Niederreiter. For the Americans: Well, Jordan Schroeder is apparently the best player in the Wild organization, followed by Nate Prosser, Mike Reilly and Zach Parise.
Players each got Ryder Cup-like jackets and ate at the ECC before and after the golf.
Boudreau checked in with Heydt last night and was told the players had a blast.
"Good," Boudreau said. "That means we should have a good practice [Friday]. It's very important, these team bonding things. I love that they were laughing and having a great time and enjoying each other's company. That's what it's all about. We want a close team. Close teams win."
If you want to see some pictures from the day, just search for some of the players' social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram.
The Wild will hold a Wake-Up Rally on next Thursday from 6 - 9 a.m. outside Xcel Energy Center along Kellogg Blvd. (199 W. Kellogg Blvd.) to celebrate the start of the team's 2016-17 NHL regular season. The wake-up rally is free, open to the public and accessible by vehicle or walk-up.
Fans will be treated to a complimentary cup of Caribou Coffee, Coca-Cola products, SuperMom's® cookies from SuperAmerica, Entenmann's Little Bites, and Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls. 2016-17 Wild magnet schedules and copies of both the Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press will also be distributed (you know which one to grab, especially that day).
For every free cup of coffee handed out, Wild partner Caribou Coffee will donate a cup of coffee to nurses and families at local cancer centers in Minnesota as part of their Amy's Blend campaign which has raised more than $2.5 million for cancer centers.
Wild media partners FOX Sports North and KFAN FM 100.3 will be on site with giveaways and KFAN will be providing live reports throughout the morning.
The Wild will host a free pre-game party for fans on Saturday, Oct. 15 ahead of the team's 2016-17 NHL regular season home opener. The outdoor festivities will be held from 2 - 5:30 p.m. at the expansive Cleveland Circle parking lot across W. 7th Street from Xcel Energy Center. The Wild will face off against the Winnipeg Jets at 6 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
Pre-game festivities will include a DJ, the two-story Bud Light Mega Bar, Happy Hour pricing, all-new Wild merchandise and concessions. Wild media partners FOX Sports North and KFAN FM 100.3 will also be on site.
Tickets to the home opener are not required to attend the party.
The Wild, Let's Play Hockey and Minnesota Hockey are partnering for the eighth straight year for the annual Used Hockey Equipment Drive.
From 9 a.m. - noon on Saturday, thousands of pieces of donated equipment will be distributed for free to hockey associations and individuals at Xcel Energy Center.
By the way, on Saturday, get yourself a program and a 50-50 raffle ticket before the Wild-Jets game. The kids that are helping to hand out programs and benefitting from the raffle are from Minnesota Special Hockey, a league that gives kids with disabilities a chance to play hockey. This is their 10th year, they have 150+ skaters, eight teams and many volunteer helpers. The kids will be skating between periods, too.