Two days before the opening of training camp, the Minnesota Wild had one last rite of summer.
Coach Dean Evason, his staff and most of his expected roster were in polo shirts and shorts at Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minn., on Monday for their annual charity tournament. You could tell a few players had had a bit more practice than others, with a couple hooking their tee shots into the pond on the first hole and another shot squibbed just out of the tee box into a couple of TV cameramen.
In some ways, they’re just like us.
They’re also all sticking to their day jobs, of course, with the first day of practice scheduled for Thursday at TRIA in St. Paul. But this was a fun day of bonding and connecting with fans — for a good cause (a portion of the net proceeds goes to the Minnesota Wild Foundation).
“It really feels like today is the kickoff for the season,” said center Joel Eriksson Ek, who said he’s good to go after offseason leg surgery.
Evason said that there might be a player or two who isn’t physically ready for the first couple of days of practice but that no one is in danger of missing any regular-season time. The camp will have more scrimmages than last year, including a full one Monday following Sunday’s first preseason game in Colorado. It will also feature tweaks on the power play thanks to new assistant Jason King. Most of the roster is expected to play in the final two preseason games, Evason said.
And there will be more golf, too, with an annual challenge between the coaches and players on a trip to Duluth in early October.
“We haven’t been on the right side of it for a couple years,” joked Evason, an avid golfer. “I hope we can round our game. They may have some more athleticism than the staff. But we think we’ve got the format this year where we might be able to compete.”
On Friday, The Athletic sat down with Evason for a Q&A. If you missed Part 1, he discussed expectations, line combinations, the team’s health situation and what he anticipates we’ll see from Marco Rossi, Brock Faber and Calen Addison, plus much more.
Wild coach Dean Evason Q&A, part 1: On Rossi, Faber, Addison, injuries, expectations and more
So without further ado, here’s Part 2:
Editor’s note: Conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Where do you see Pat Maroon’s impact being? Because he’s somebody that, I mean, this is a guy that used to fight (Zdeno) Chara. It seemed like last year, at times, Ryan Reaves didn’t really want to do it. How much can Maroon help in that area, but just his energy, how much was that needed when you lose guys like Matt Dumba and Reaves?
You make a good point. Dums was a very vocal guy within our dressing room. Just seeing Patty around for a week or so, you can see his presence with the group. He has an energy level to him. Push come to shove, sure, can he stand up for a teammate? Yes. That’s part of his job, his role. It always has been, but you forget…
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