It's Valentine's Day, people.
I would totally give a shout-out to Alicia, my girlfriend of five years, but as awesome as she is, she doesn't read these, so she'll never get the thrill of me having a self-indulgent moment for her sake, delaying hundreds of people as they try to read their links.
Speaking of Valentine's Day, that also happens to be a Game Day here in the Wilderness. The Avs are coming to town, and there is no love lost (get it?!?!) between these two foes, what with the Avalanche poaching Wild greats like Greg Zanon and Chuck Kobasew.
This is one of those games that should be a win. The Avalanche are now without Ryan O'Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, Steve Downie, and Erik Johnson, and they're not handling that well. They're scoring a Wild-esque 2.1 goals per game to go with the league's worst power play, which is so bad that even the Wild convert twice as many as their figure.
But in the meantime, there's some news and other interesting things to be had here. One of the closest we've had to assuming the status of "Wild Legend" has retired, and the Wild's fourth-string goaltender has been netting some attention. So let's get going.
Brunette retires as player, takes post with Wild | StarTribune.com- As most of you've heard, and probably even from here, Andrew Brunette has retired. The Wild's second all-time goal scorer (4th in points) is responsible for Game 7 against Colorado in the 2003 WCQ, one of the greatest moments in Wild history. And by every account, a class act and a good guy. Glad to have him in the organization again, and happy that he gave the Wild, and glad for the 6 years he gave the organization as a player.
Andrew Brunette retires, joins Wild for a third stint | StarTribune.com- The blog of this story, complete with another Bruno feature.
Young goalie Kuemper plays well in tough spot for Wild | StarTribune.com- Wild notebook, also contains the obligatory talking about the Wild's offensive sputtering, and Mikael Granlund's best game (so far).
Minnesota Wild: Dany Heatley gets a night back on top line - TwinCities.com- More line juggling. The Wild have officially gone in a circle trying to fix their offense.
First Round Bust: Another Good Guy Calls It Quits- Nate's take on Brunos retiring.
Analysing The Minnesota Wild's Offensive Woes- The Hockey Writers breaks down the Wild's offense. I couldn't wait to read this one, either.
Tending the Fields
The Third Intermission: Hackett carries Aeros to 2-1 win over Texas- A longer recap of Tuesday night's Aeros game. Hackett shone as brightly as Kuemper did in the NHL.
Has Darcy Kuemper Overtaken Matt Hackett as Top Goalie Prospect? - Gone Puck Wild - A Minnesota Wild Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More- It's phenomenal that we're having this discussion. Whatever order they are, it's 1 and 1A. With a strong 1B playing in Sweden in Gustafsson.
Darcy Kuemper Demonstrates Minnesota Wild Prospect Depth- Very encouraging to see, what with Backstrom's impending free agency, and Harding's tragically uncertain future.
Tyler Graovac's hat trick leads Belleville Bulls past Kingston Frontenacs 4-1 - NHL.com - News- It's really exciting to see Graovac emerge out of nowhere to become a force. He's my pick for Most Improved Prospect, and it's nice to see the Wild continue to unearth nice value in the later rounds.
NHL 2013 draft prospects rankings | Home Ice - SI.com- Get acquainted with the bigger names heading into next summers draft. Or read Dan's rankings from 10 days ago, because they were awesome, too.
Off the Trail
Rest easy, Winnipeg, realignment is coming - Cross Checks Blog - ESPN- Pierre LeBrun had better be right. I'm sick of late division game start times and fake rivalries.
Blue Jackets’ hiring of Jarmo Kekalainen long overdue in the hockey world | Puck Daddy - Yahoo! Sports- A good write-up of the Columbus Blue Jacket's new GM. Seems like they're getting a worthy candidate, and good for them.
Defending Norris winner Erik Karlsson out indefinitely after accidental skate-cut to his achilles | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com- Other big news of the day, and it's the kind of news you don't want to see.
The Ottawa Senators are trying to keep their tickets out of the hands of Leafs fans | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com- Losing Karlsson isn't gonna help that.
NHL - Rookie Power Rankings - Cory Conacher maintains lead in early Calder Trophy race - ESPN- Brodin jumps to 9, Granlund falls to 10. Hopefully Granlund's game against Vancouver is an indication of corner-turning, and Brodin is only at 9 because of his lack of name value. I refuse to believe that Dougie Hamilton is better. Also, former potential Guy Who The Wild Could Get in Return for Seto, Simon Despres made the honorable mentions. Looks like that's not happening.
Avs' Erik Johnson joins Gabe Landeskog on injury list with head injury - The Denver Post- Bad news for the Avs. Head injuries are always crappy. Hope for a speedy recovery, followed by no further problems.
Avs withholding captaincy from Ryan O'Reilly is one of divisive issues - The Denver Post- Never a good time when your (arguably) best player is in a nasty contract situation.
Rant Trifecta: the Avalanche/O'Reilly Situation - Mile High Hockey- An explicative-laden rant about the crappy situation the Avs are dealing with right now.
Possible Trade Targets: Young Defensemen - Mile High Hockey- A look at who the Avs might try to acquire while looking to deal O'Reilly. Sure would be nice to have Shattenkirk back, huh? Wild fans that think the Nick Leddy trade was the apocalypse should look at the Johnson for Stewart and Shat deal, and see that how easy they have it.
Splitsville: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild - Mile High Hockey- A look at the Avalanche's past success against the Wild. Surprisingly, no one's really burned them. Hejduk is the closest to a Wild-Killer that they have, and let's face it, he's not exactly Iginla or Sakic.
So, that does it. Have a safe and happy Valentine's Day, everyone, and enjoy the Wild game!