This season wasn't the happiest for Wild fans. The ups and downs expected of a franchise trying to completely change their organization and style of play happened, leaving the Wild out of the playoff picture and looking for answers. But enough of the negatives, here are some high points for the 2009-2010 season that Minnesota fans can look back on with a smile.
Injuries are no fun. I've sprained my ankle a couple of times and practicing on it was not an enjoyable experience. I can't even imagine having a broken ankle, let alone playing hockey on it. But I'm not Greg Zanon. Zanon broke his ankle and was forced to sit out by the team, but it didn't keep him out long. Soon he was back on the ice - starting plays, making passes, blocking shots...obviously all those things normal people with broken ankles do. It even inspired Zanonisms. Zanon was a beast at the end of the season and one of the Wild's better defensemen. Of course, what that says about the rest of the Wild's defense isn't extremely encouraging.
Latendresse! (Alternate title: Goodbye, Pouliot)
Benoit Pouliot was the draft pick who showed flashes of immense skill but never took it far enough. Guillaume Latendresse was the skilled hometown player who struggled under the pressures of Montreal. This trade worked out quite well for the Wild and warmed Minnesota fans up to Fletcher for doing one of the things the old regime couldn't. It pains me to think of what the Wild's offense would have looked like without Latendresse.
Almost two entire seasons after being acquired in the 2008 off-season, someone decided to figure out the proper pronunciation of Marek Zidlicky's name. A Czech Republic native, Zidlicky's name was rarely pronounced corectly, even by the Wild. But everyone's favorite beat writer Russo decided that knowing the correct pronunciation might be a good thing to share with the world, so he asked Zidlicky himself and figured out the answer. It's not Zid-lick-y or any of the other improper ways people said his name, it's Zhid-lits-ky. Know it, embrace it, pronounce the poor guy's name right.
Mikko Koivu has had control of the Wild's locker room for some time but the 2009-2010 season marked the first time he had it permanently displayed on his jersey. He received the rotating C for various months under Jacques Lemaire but Todd Richards abandoned that system when he took over. After some time and observation, Richards gave Koivu the permanent C. And that C looks mighty nice.
Learn from him, kids
Owen Nolan was drafted eight months before I was born. I wasn't really into hockey during his golden years. I didn't completely understand the significance when the Wild signed him in July of 2008. Yet he's one of my favorite players. Nolan and Andrew Brunette (whom I also appreciate immensely) have provided a veteran presence and amazing example for some of the Wild's younger, developing players (the few they have, anyway). Nolan's contract with the Wild only ran through this season and it's unsure of how much longer he'll continue to play in the NHL. While I would like Nolan to stay in Minnesota for my own selfish reasons, he deserves a championship. But having Nolan on this team has been a treat.
What did I miss, Wild fans? What are some of your favorite moments from this season?