Minnesota Wild let fans paint rink, hilarious messages ensue

Jared Clinton
(via Imgur)

For the second straight season, the Minnesota Wild allowed their season seat holders to come down onto the ice to paint some final goodbye messages to the club as summer approaches. However, as the Wild surely know, hockey fans can be a sour bunch when a once-promising season comes to an unexpectedly early close in the post-season.

So, in typical fandom fashion, more than a few fans took the opportunity to write messages in line with how they feel about some of the opponents the Wild faced in their two rounds of playoff hockey. Near one crease, one fan took the opportunity to let their feelings about St. Louis Blues winger Steve Ott be known and next to the other, yet another fan expressed their displeasure with the Blues’ pest. There’s also one fan who captured every fan’s post-playoff sadness with, “I wanted more.”

But the best message of displeasure comes from the fan who writes, simply, “Nobody likes Chicago.” It’s simple, understated and gets right to the point: nobody likes that team that ousted the Wild in four straight. Take a look at the full-ice display: Read more

Goaltender Josh Harding expected to announce retirement

Jared Clinton
Harding

It appears that Josh Harding, 30, is finally being forced to hang up his skates, almost three years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Minnesota Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reported Tuesday morning that Harding, who was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the second round, 38th overall, of the 2008 draft, is expected to announce his retirement this off-season. Set to become an unrestricted free agent on June 30 when his contract with the Wild expires, Harding has played just two games this season following his demotion to the AHL in November, where he was forced out of action due to dehydration stemming from MS.

“I wouldn’t want to speak for him, but he has bigger issues than just hockey,” Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Re-signing Dubnyk could mean bye-bye Backstrom in Minnesota

Lyle Richardson
Devan Dubnyk

For the third straight year, the Minnesota Wild were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite rallying in mid-season to reach the playoffs and upsetting the St. Louis Blues in the opening round, the Wild once again had no answer for the powerful Blackhawks.

Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher enters this off-season trying to find ways to improve his club and narrow the talent gap with the Blackhawks. It didn’t take long for local pundits to speculate over his summer “to-do” list.

Star-Tribune.com’s Michael Russo and TwinCities.com’s Chad Graff agree re-signing goaltender Devan Dubnyk should top Fletcher’s list. Acquired in a mid-season trade with Arizona, the 29-year-old Dubnyk’s outstanding play turned the Wild into one of the NHL’s hottest teams during the second half. While Dubnyk struggled at times in the playoffs, the Wild are expected to re-sign the Vezina Trophy finalist. Read more

Watch Marian Hossa’s series-winning goal, the first of its kind in 24 years

Marian Hossa (Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images)

When Marian Hossa put the Chicago Blackhawks ahead 4-1 with an empty net goal late in the third period, it seemed the series against the Minnesota Wild, who were down 3-0 to Chicago, was all but over. But two quick Wild goals later, and Hossa’s fourth goal was more a savior than the cherry-on-top of the Blackhawks’ win. It was also the first time in nearly a quarter-century that a series was decided thanks to an empty net goal.

The goal itself came from a good distance, roughly 170 feet away from the Minnesota net, with the Wild on a power play following a Bryan Bickell penalty for boarding. Seconds after Minnesota had hit the post, the puck slid out front to Jonathan Toews who pushed it along to Hossa, who, because of the penalty to Bickell, was free to fire the puck down ice without fear of icing. It took him one chance to find the back of the net: Read more

Kane, Toews & Hawks too much for Wild, sweep them with 4-3 win in Game 4

Patrick Kane (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Minnesota Wild were one of the NHL’s better stories for much of the second half of the 2014-15 season. They pulled themselves back from the brink of a coach firing and were the beneficiaries of an incredible and inspiration comeback case in goalie Devan Dubnyk. Unfortunately for them, comeback stories and excellent goaltending can’t win you playoff games against the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks, who hammered the Wild with their big guns and their complementary players and held on for a 4-3 win in Game 4 Thursday to sweep Minnesota out of the second round of the playoffs.

Once again, the Wild didn’t roll over and play dead despite entering Thursday’s game trailing 3-0 in their series. To the contrary: they outshot Chicago 29-17 in the final two periods and fired 37 shots at goalie Corey Crawford while limiting the Blackhawks to only 24 shots on Dubnyk. But once again, the opportunistic Hawks did exactly what they needed to do to eke out a win – in this case, get a shorthanded, empty-net goal from Marian Hossa at 16:53 of the third period (yes, you read that correctly). That wound up being the game winner, although at the time it put the visiting team up 4-1 on the Wild. Minnesota would score a power play goal 49 seconds after Hossa scored, and then Nino Niederreiter’s fourth of the playoffs with 1:27 left in regulation made the last few seconds a nailbiter. But in the end, the Blackhawks pulled out the win and are headed to their fifth Western Conference Final in the past seven seasons. Read more

Hawks’ Rozsival badly injures ankle in Game 4 vs. Wild after catching skate in rut

Hawks defenseman Michal Rozsival lies on the ice after suffering an ankle injury in Game 4 of Chicago's second-round series against Minnesota. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

At age 36, veteran Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival no longer is in his NHL prime, but still fills an important need on Chicago’s defense corps. However, after a gruesome injury in Game 4 Thursday, Rozsival isn’t likely to play again in the playoffs – and he may have played his final game in hockey’s best league.

The Hawks were leading 2-0 early in the second period when Rozsival began to move back toward Chicago’s zone, but as he attempted to move from skating backward to forward in his pursuit of Wild winger Thomas Vanek, Rozsival’s skate caught a rut, twisting his ankle in a nasty manner: (WARNING: graphic images) Read more

Hawks strike first in Game 4 vs. Wild on deflected & knuckling shot by Seabrook

Hawks players Johnny Oduya, Bryan Bickell, Brad Richards, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane celebrate Seabrook's first-period goal Thursday in Game Four of Chicago's second-round series against Minnesota. (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks are arguably the NHL’s most dangerous team this year because they have a multitude of weaponry with which to defeat you. It isn’t only Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith who are doing the heavy lifting for the Hawks – they win games because players throughout the lineup can step up and help them win at any moment in any game. And in Game 4 of their second-round series against Minnesota Thursday, Chicago got its first goal and lead of the night thanks to another player: veteran blueliner Brent Seabrook, who wristed a knuckling puck past Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk.

Game 4 had just passed the first half of the opening period when Seabrook took a pass at center ice, skated into the Wild’s zone with the puck and sent a wrist shot that ricocheted off the leg of Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella and over Dubnyk’s shoulder for his third goal of the playoffs: Read more