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  • How Will the Wild Survive the Preseason?

    Image courtesy of Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
    Mikki Tuohy


    The Minnesota Wild released their preseason schedule this week. Not surprisingly, they are playing the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, and Chicago Blackhawks twice each. Fans are rightfully concerned, looking back at the past two years playing the Jets and Stars. Plenty of injuries and egregious penalties have occurred against these teams, and it’s a rough way to start off the season.

    (The Chicago team doesn’t hold the same sort of threat. Their preseason last year had Marc-Andre Fleury, former No. 1 draft pick, tripping current No. 1 draft pick Connor Bedard before giving him a fatherly tap on the shin pads with his stick welcoming him to the league.)



    So what can the Wild do to survive the preseason? Here are a few strategies that should ease the mind of Wild fans as they look forward to the 2024-25 season.

    Lean on the Rookies, Just Like the Other Teams

    Look, the interesting part of preseason is watching the prospects, rookies, and players on professional tryouts get their chance on the big stage. Out of the 6 preseason games, it’s only the final game where the team will most likely play something close to their opening night roster. Last season, the Wild played Games 5 and 6 of the preseason with their full roster.

    That means that in the first four games, Dallas and Winnipeg will also have plenty of their own rookies and prospects out there. Waiting until the final two games to play the Blackhawks could behoove the Wild. Despite having Bedard and a few higher draft picks, Chicago is still a rebuilding team. That doesn’t mean Minnesota should take them for granted, but it might be a little bit of a break before their opening night.

    Time for Fun Between the Games

    I know people don’t like thinking about professional athletes having a life off of the ice (that sound is my eyeballs rolling around in my head), but it's important to balance the beginning of the season. Yes, they need to get back in shape for the season, but they also need time to bond and relax. After an incredibly disappointing season, everyone needs understanding and time more than they need hard-nosed coaching. That means that there should be mandatory fun time that is scheduled at times throughout the preseason.

    Show What Minnesota Has to Offer

    This sort of rolls in with the mandatory fun time, but it also has an important side effect: selling Minnesota and the Twin Cities to the players. There are plenty of players who are coming to the end of their contracts and may need a reminder of why The State of Hockey is a place they want to stick around. (*cough cough* Kirill Kaprizov *cough cough*).

    Take them on a beautiful hike and stop for ice cream on the way. Go to a Twins game together and treat everyone to a bag of popcorn. Maybe even just walk around and let the young hockey fans swarm, reminding them of the impact they have on young hockey players.

    Implement the Use of Preseason Bubble Wrap

    Let’s be clear: this is a last resort. But several players may require bubble wrap so they can enter the regular season uninjured. This includes, but is not limited to, Jared Spurgeon, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jonas Brodin, Marcus Foligno, and Kaprizov (although he might fight back about that decision. KK is feisty).

    Overall, the preseason looks daunting at first glance. But keep in mind that the Wild have had extra time to heal from their injuries this year. They've also had extra time to stay conditioned, for those who played in the World Championships. That extra time off, while disappointing, might help the Wild start the preseason with a bang against two of their toughest opponents. Let's cross the preseason bridge when we come to it.


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    True that Chicago may not be the same threat of injury as the Stars or especially the Jets (F Logan Stanley indeed), but it was the Blackhawks that broke Matt Boldy's ankle in the 2021 preseason. 

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