What will the dressing room be like without Rolston, Parrish, Keith Carney, Sean Hill and the loud, boisterous Todd Fedoruk and Aaron Voros?
Oh to have been a fly on the wall...
Let me preface this post by saying that I am not your typical fan. I don't buy into the media driven belief that a happy lockerroom is a successful lockerroom. I know that players are going to fight and hate each other over the course of the year and no group of teammates ever sits down together after practice singing kumbaya. If all it took was a happy lockerroom to gurantee a successful run to the title the Twins would be in the World Series every year and the White Sox would never make the playoffs. Yesterdays loveable character is tomorrow's cancer.
With that said the Wild's lockerroom is going to be vastly different this year than last when it comes to leadership. I am not privy to the rants of the players and coaches but if play on the ice is any sort of indication new leadership is going to be needed. Rolston was the leader from what I could see and he is now gone meaning someone needs to take his place, and if I was a betting man I would say that man will be Andrew Brunette. I will admit I am biased in that Brunette is probably my favorite player in Wild team history but don't let that fool you, if this team is to be successful it will be because of his leadership on the ice and in the lockerroom. He isn't flashy and he is not fast at all, but he is a grinder and is far from soft. He scores on garbage, gets his nose dirty and irritates the heck out of opposing teams. (just look at what he did to the Wild after he left) My guess if any voice is heard over the boisterous laughs of the young guys it will be his and if the kids are smart they will listen. Also, defensively I see Brent Burns becoming the defensive leader of this team. No player on the Wild has improved on the ice as much as he has and my guess is it will spill over to the lockerroom as well. If someone on the defense gets out of line I would bet they will get a look at Burns' hobo-like beard up cose and personal.
The loss of Parrish in the lockerroom along with Sean Hill and even Keith Carney will not change the dynamic much at all in my humble opinion. Once again with the caveat that I am not in the lockerroom it just never seemed to me that any of the above named guys would have been the "Rah Rah" type guy spurring on the team behind the scenes. Hill was hardly even on the team, Parrish seemed rather soft-spoken (not to mention it is hard to be a leader when you disappear on the ice for half the season) and Carney was probably more valuable on the ice leading by example than off it. I just don't see the loss of these guys changing the lockerroom. The veteran presence of Owen Nolan more than makes up for any wisdom loss with the added advantage that he might just be able to put up a few points as well. Add in Brunette and I would say it is a net gain for the Wild lockerroom in terms of leadership and accountability. (I see Koivu also stepping up here, the team seems to rally around him)
As for the "boisterous" Voros and Fedoruk my guess is the loss of their noise and antics will be made up by the combo of James Sheppard and Colton Gillies. I get the feeling these guys are going to be partners in crime raising hell in the lockerroom keeping everyone on their toes. These guys are young and talented and seem to get along quite well and nothing soothes the heart of a team on a road trip through Western Canada than some teenage hysterics. For some reason I see them pulling pranks on Derek Boogaard...but maybe that is just what I would do if i was 19/20 years old and had him in my lockerroom.