Category Archives: News/Transactions

Team Guy Eulogy – Is the Magic Crusade Over?

Team Guy Eulogy - Is the Magic Crusade Over?

If it’s over, I enjoyed every second of it!

Exactly 4 years ago today, I received a call from Scott Meyer asking if I had time to write up a press release announcing Shane Wagner as the new head coach of a struggling Minnesota Junior Hockey League franchise, the Hudson Crusaders. Scott had just taken over ownership of the Crusaders and my junior hockey career was about to begin.

At the time, I didn’t even know what junior hockey was or that it even existed. Junior hockey was never really a big deal in Minnesota or, at least, big enough for me to notice up until that point. I’d heard of the St. Paul Vulcans but never took an interest in them or what they were about. Minnesota was known for it’s high school, college and pro hockey because, first, there’s a lot of it, and second, because it gets the most coverage.

Once I had seen junior hockey, it made perfect sense as a way for players to continue their careers after high school, develop into better players and advance to college hockey. If you think about it, the majority of players need junior hockey to keep playing competitively so, it’s sad that junior hockey doesn’t get more coverage in Minnesota. It can be very good hockey with very good players who can go on to play at the highest level of college hockey and even go on to have careers in the pros.

I was asked what I wanted my title to be, Director of Media Relations? Equipment Manager? I was willing to take those jobs but wanted to know what those jobs entailed before saying yes. So, not worrying about a title, I would just start helping the Hudson Crusaders wherever they needed.

I was soon given the name of Team Guy since I would end up doing a lot of different jobs for The CRU – game presentation, helping on the bench making sure the players had water, backup sticks & various supplies for the game, driving to away games (sometimes quite the adventure), keeping score online, updating the social media sites, writing articles for the website, updating player stats (players LOVED that), going to league meetings & conference calls as The President (El Prezidente), etc… I was almost the announcer for one game but he showed up just in time. Who knows where I might be if that happened? Haha. Did you think it was a “legal hit?”

The next season, the Minnesota Magicians would embark on their inaugural season and once again, I would get the call to see if I was interested in being the Team Guy for the newest NAHL team. This was a different animal, though. After spending a season with a Tier III Junior Hockey team, I would find out quickly that Tier II hockey is a much more serious deal.* This was big time to me. We’re talking about a league with players that regularly go on to some of the top teams of the Division I college level.
*That is not to say Tier III hockey isn’t serious. A lot of those players are working just as hard to make something out of their hockey careers. I just don’t think it is every player on every team, though.

I would learn a lot that first year with the Magicians, mostly about laundry but also about what it takes to be an equipment manager. There’s a lot of things you need to know how to do and how to do fast to do the job right. The players are there to perform and their equipment needs to be ready for them by and during practice and game time.

I was the Team Guy for both teams in that second year and that made it pretty tough since the majority of junior hockey games are on Friday & Saturday nights. It was difficult to be there for one team while at the same time knowing I couldn’t help the other team and the players as much as I wanted to. They knew I’d be there if I could but in my opinion, it still wasn’t enough.

For four seasons I was the Team Guy/Equipment Manager for the Hudson Crusaders and/or the Minnesota Magicians and I always did it for the players. I did the best I could to make sure when it was game time, they could concentrate on playing the game. They shouldn’t have to worry about any of their equipment. Their mind should be on the task at hand, playing the game and winning. I hope I succeeded in showing every player how much I cared about helping them achieve success.

The end of every season is difficult because you most likely won’t see a lot of those guys ever again and you spend more time with them than anyone else in your life. That’s why they say it’s a family because that is truly how team sports are and, I believe, how they need to be to do something special. Every player has to care about every other player and they have to play for each other.

“We’re a family, Herb!” – Miracle

So you can imagine how difficult it is if this is the end of my career in junior hockey. I had the best seat in the house (standing room only, though) and I enjoyed every second of it. It was very fun to be a part of a team again. I made some friendships that I hope will last the rest of my life. It’s cool to be able to see players currently playing college hockey that I know and had the pleasure of doing just a small part in helping them get there.

Thank you to everyone I’ve met along the way and, always….

Bring The Clutter!!!

Every Day In Every Way!!!

P.S. – I still work at the Richfield Ice Arena so if you are there, look for me and say hello!

Team Guy Eulogy - Is the Magic Crusade Over?

This says all you need to know about the importance of helping out the team!
Thanks, CJ!
“But, Robb, the light’s still green…”

Yeo Fired – Minnesota Wild Fire Head Coach Mike Yeo

Minnesota Wild Fire Head Coach Mike Yeo

Minnesota Wild Fire Head Coach Mike Yeo

The Minnesota Wild have told Mike Yeo he’s no longer their head coach. After losing their 8th consecutive game and their 8th consecutive home game Saturday afternoon, General Manager Chuck Fletcher had very little choice to make a change now. Firing the head coach is the easiest change an organization can make to put a little fire into the players, no pun intended.

Players not performing or playing “the right way” can only go on so long before a move has to be made. Mike Yeo seemed to be trying anything and everything to motivate his players. The Wild gave the impression it was working as they showed signs of breaking out against the top teams in the league in their last few games, the St. Louis Blues, the Dallas Stars and the Washington Capitals. They would always find a way to lose though, which is what happens when teams and players lack confidence in their game.

It’s surprising the Minnesota Wild are in this situation after ending the first half with 52 points in 41 games, on pace for a franchise record season. At first glance, that’s very good but a deeper look reveals this team has been anything but consistent this season. Their monthly records are 7-2-2, 4-5-2, 9-3-2, 3-7-3 and 0-5-1 so far in February. Remarkably, their longest win streak is only 3 games. They’ve won 3 straight 4 times.

What does it mean when a team has their worst stretch of hockey after their best stretch of hockey? It could be many things and coaching might not even be on the list. Is it the team leadership? Is there a problem in the room? Do they not like the system? Do they not like each other? Is it possible they didn’t like the coach? Did bringing in Adam Oates rub the coaching staff & the organization the wrong way? Was it ever talked about and buried? Whatever it is, they need to figure it out, talk about it, fix it and bury it and move on. With 27 games remaining and 5 points out of the last playoff spot, literally The Time Is NOW!!!

The 2015-16 Minnesota Wild has enough talent to be in the upper echelon of the NHL. They’ve shown how good a team they can be many times this season. They’ve dominated some of the best teams in the league for stretches but they always find a way to lose in the end. They’re a very fragile team. Players are now trying to do too much individually thinking they have to do more to get out of this slump.

The greatest hockey player ever wouldn’t be the greatest player ever without the rest of his team. It is a team game, not an individual game. Players have to trust their teammates to make the plays that are best for the team. Play as a team! Play for your team! Play for each other! Start small! Win battles! Win shifts! Win 5 minute stretches! Win Periods! Win Games! WIN NOW!!!

We’d love to hear your thoughts so Bring The Clutter in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+!


Bring The Clutter!!! Every Day!!! In Every Way!!!

If you don’t know what that means, go HERE to find out!

Dennis Wideman, The NHL and the Definition of Deliberate

Dennis Wideman suspended 20 games for hitting linesman Don Henderson

Apparently, the NHL needs a dictionary

The National Hockey League suspended Dennis Wideman for 20 games without pay yesterday for his alleged hit on linesman Don Henderson in a game against the Nashville Predators on January 27th, 2016. At first glance, it looks very bad but, you don’t make a decision on your first glance or the hit alone. Watch what happened before and after the play to make a sound decision on if Dennis Wideman should’ve been suspended.

Here’s the play in question:

Gotta See It: Wideman plows into referee after scary hit

If you haven’t seen the play, your first impression could easily be shock and thoughts of it being a dirty hit but you may also think why would he just hit a linesman? Now watch the replay or watch it again.

On the replay:

Dennis Wideman Suspended 20 games for violating Rule 40.2

Nashville RW, #20 Miikka Salomaki checks Dennis Wideman, spinning him into the boards and Wideman’s head hits the glass. Wideman falls to one knee then gets up, puts his left hand to his head then starts heading for the bench. He calls for a change raising his stick. Don Henderson, the linesman, is skating backwards following the play on the ice. Wideman has his head down and sees the linesman at the last second, tries to veer to his right and puts up his hands to defend himself, collides with Henderson and keeps going to the bench.

You know he’s trying to avoid the hit because he starts to stop and tries to move out of the way but it’s too late. He also puts his hands up which is a natural reaction to being surprised when something or someone is coming at you. Also, Wideman never looks back. He just keeps going to the bench, sits down and hangs his head.

If he meant to hit the linesman because he was angry about a call, he would have hit him harder and talked some trash to him after the hit. He doesn’t do that. He goes to the bench and it’s obvious he doesn’t feel right. Also, if he was in his right mind, he would’ve hit or defended the Nashville player coming at him with the puck right after he collided with Henderson.

Here’s the transcribed call from the game’s announcers:

“…and then…linesman down at center ice. There was a collision there between one of the Flames…and Don Henderson is down, getting slowly back up…to his feet so…looks like he is going to be okay. Dennis Wideman looks a little shaken up as well, Kelly.”

“Yeah, he wo…yeah, Salomaki and then he is banged up and he’s going to try to make his way to the bench and there’s the collision with Don Henderson. He doesn’t even see the…uh…linesman.

I think Peter Laviolette is calling for a call. He’s talking to…the linesman…right now. No.”

“So Wideman was clearly woozy after that hit in the corner.”

“Yes he was. Absolutely!”

Now, the NHL is saying he violated Rule 40.2 – Physical Abuse of Officials. Here’s how the Rule reads from the NHL Rulebook.

Rule 40.2 - Physical Abuse of Officials

The key word is “deliberately” which means he intended to hit the linesman. If he didn’t know the linesman was coming and accidentally collided with him, then it wasn’t deliberate.

We can say it was wrong and that the NHL has to protect their officials but none of those reasons make it deliberate and they can’t prove it was deliberate. Wideman’s statement after the game said he didn’t see him and he apologized to him after the hit.

The National Hockey League is making an example out of Dennis Wideman to protect their officials but they’re not even reading their rules correctly, rules written by lawyers and agreed upon by both the league and the player’s association.

This isn’t something that happened on a playground with the NHL being the biggest kid there and punishing Mr. Wideman for hitting their little brother too hard in a game. They really showed him. Dennis Wideman will never accidentally hit an official again. Wait. How can he know he’ll never do anything accidentally again? It’s an accident!

Is that how it works in the NHL? They apparently think so. The NHLPA doesn’t agree and has filed an appeal on Dennis Wideman’s behalf. The first stage of the appeal process is commissioner Gary Bettman. He will look at the play and decide to to leave the suspension at 20 games, reduce it or overrule it to no suspension at all. If he leaves it at 20 games or reduces it, the appeal will go to an independent arbitrator. That will be interesting. It’d be a big surprise if the commissioner changes anything.

We’d love to hear your thoughts so Bring The Clutter in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+!


Bring The Clutter!!! Every Day In Every Way!!!

If you don’t know what that means, go HERE and find out!

Minnesota Wild – Broken at the Break? What do they do now?

The Minnesota Wild will try to get out of a scoring and winning drought as the NHL All-Star break ends.

Are the Minnesota Wild broken? If so, can they be fixed?

The Minnesota Wild have 6 points in their last 10 games (2-6-2), 9 points since the calendar turned to 2016 (3-7-3) and have scored only 23 goals in those 13 games (16 in the last 10). The lack of scoring (and winning) has them out of a playoff spot with 33 games left in the 2015-16 NHL season.

A scoring slump or a slump of any kind always gets fans asking for a coaching change. Minnesota Wild fans are very familiar with a slump in the middle of the season as it’s happened pretty much every season since Mike Yeo has been here. Does that mean he should get fired? Is it the system? Is he putting the players in situations where they can have success? Or is it the players squeezing the sticks too hard and letting their minds screw with their confidence, making them think twice about how they play the game?

I subscribe to the latter. We’ve seen this team go on a tear before so we know what they are capable of doing against any team. It’s amazing that players who get paid millions of dollars can still have the confidence in their game swayed by a lack of success. The big question is how does the coach get them out of this mental funk they are in?

Almost every team & every player goes through a slump at some point during a season. Look at the Montreal Canadiens, who were dominant at the beginning of the season. They won their first 9 games and 18 of their first 22 games. Now they are 24-22-4, 3 points out of a playoff spot. The Dallas Stars are currently struggling a bit, 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

The only teams that seem to have avoided a slump are the teams at the top of each conference, the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks, or maybe only the Capitals? The Blackhawks had a somewhat rocky start to the season adjusting to some new teammates but have righted the ship with great leadership and the league’s leading scorer, Patrick Kane. A 12-game winning streak will solve a lot of problems but…that streak was followed by 3 losses in 4 games so…what should we take from that?

Even one of the greatest, if not the greatest, hockey players in the last 10 years, one Sidney Crosby, has struggled this season. In his first 9 games of the season,  Sidney Crosby had only 3 points on 1 goal & 2 assists and those points came from one game so in 8 of his first 9 games he didn’t register a point. This is a player who has averaged 1.33 points per game for his career. He didn’t even make the All-Star game which seems unfathomable. The Sid also appears to have gotten his game back with 41 points in 47 games or since those first 9 games, 38 points (16G, 22A) in 38 games and on a current 7-game scoring streak.

I’ve been around hockey for a long time and usually a team and/or a player in a slump needs to go back to basics and simplify their game. They need to free their mind so they just play the game, not thinking about it too much. In my opinion, you never want a player thinking twice about what they are doing during a game. No “Should I go? Should I pass? shoot?” or any question in what they’re doing. That causes hesitation and then the play is past you or the shooting/passing lane is gone.

This is why I don’t think it’s a coaching problem with the Minnesota Wild. They just need to get back to their game and trust what they are doing, trusting their game as a team and as individual players. Shoot the puck! Be the Wild team you know you can be! The Time is Now!!!

One thing that might need to happen is breaking up that top line. Mike Yeo seems to have the utmost confidence in Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville. Nobody can really complain about #11 as he brings his game every night but the lack of scoring from his two linemates is affecting his production. If they, the line or just 64 & 29, don’t start producing, Mr. Yeo will have to make some changes. There’s just no way around it.

Pominville, Granland used to sound like an exciting place to visit, where goals were achieved and apples were available for free. Now, Bring It On Down to Pominville sounds like some sort of punishment and Welcome To Granland doesn’t sound as welcoming of a greeting as it used to.

One player who seems to be Going Wild is #3 Charlie Coyle. Did you think Charlie would Go Wild this season? I did!

No matter what, it should be an interesting 33 games for the Minnesota Wild.

Will the Wild get back to winning or will this slump continue to the point where we may see the end of the Mike Yeo Era in Minnesota?

We’d love to hear your thoughts so Bring The Clutter in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+!


Bring The Clutter!!! Every Day!!! In Every Way!!!

If you don’t know what that means, go HERE and find out!

A Preview of Round 2 – Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks – So we meet again

Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks in the 2nd round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

So we meet again…The Minnesota Wild play the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs for the 3rd straight season.

The Minnesota Wild meet the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 3rd straight season and the 2nd straight season in the 2nd round when the puck (or the ClutterPuck) drops tonight around 8:30pm. The last two seasons when these teams met, it was a foregone conclusion that the Blackhawks would defeat the Wild. It was just a matter of how many games it would take for Chicago to win the series.

In 2013, the Minnesota Wild were, basically, just happy to be in the postseason dance. They were that weird kid standing alone in the corner wondering why they were there and then they saw her. The Stanley Cup. They got the courage to go up and ask her to dance* but here came Mr. Popular, the Chicago Blackhawks, to steal their thunder and ruin their night. So they went home losing the series 4 games to 1 with that 1 win coming in overtime fashion. (Thank you, Mr. Zucker!) Not the results the Wild wanted but it was a step, the first step to becoming a champion. They saw up close how a championship team got it done in the playoffs. They learned how intense the playoffs are and how every possession and play is magnified!

*How do you dance with the Stanley Cup? Trust me, if the Minnesota Wild win Lord Stanley’s Cup, it will just happen. Everyone will be like, “Here, I’ll show you!” Everybody Loves Stan!!!

In 2014, we saw a team that figured out what it takes to win a series. They beat the Colorado Avalanche in a series that began looking like the Colorado would win the series pretty quickly. They figured out every game in a series is a different entity, something with distinct and independent existence and they could come back if they played the right way. They needed 7 games and overtime in Game 7 to do it. That Game 7 was almost a microcosm of the series, too. The Wild never led in the game until that final shot in OT. They came back from a 1-goal deficit 4 times. The only lead they had in the game and in the series was after the final shot! (PING! Thank you, Nino!)

Facing the Blackhawks in the 2nd round felt like they were ruining the dance again! They’d win game 1 & 2 by scores of 5-2 and 4-1, sending the Wild home, down 2 games. That 1st round experience showed them they could come back in a series and we saw a Wild team get that Home Ice Advantage, starting to play with confidence and really frustrate teams when they played at The X.* It was especially amazing to see how much they frustrated the reigning Stanley Cup Champions with their play on home ice. They would end up losing game 6 in overtime on a crazy bounce that went right to Patrick Kane and just like that, the Wild’s season came to an end.


The 2014-15 version of the Minnesota Wild had such a crazy regular season. They’d have a sickness or two go through the locker room, deaths of the fathers of their assistant captains and, of course, the problems in the net that seemed to make this team lose confidence in their whole game. Leave it to the Brown Fox to fix the problem with a 3rd round pick in his pocket that he’d offer to the Arizona Coyotes for Devan Dubnyk. Devan Dubnyk! How many people saw Devan Dubnyk being the savior of the season?

Everyone thought he was the backup for the Coyotes and, for the most part, he was. But, in December, he started more games for Arizona than starter Mike Smith did and to that point, DUUUBS had played very well, going 5-1-1 in the 8 games he started in with a 2.48 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Those are pretty good numbers for a team that only had 16 wins in 42 games. The Coyotes only had 8 wins in the 40 games after they traded Devan Dubnyk.

We all know how Devan Dubnyk has changed this team! Before Dubnyk (BD), the Wild were in a tailspin. They didn’t seem to have a clue what to do to win battles, win shifts or win periods let win a game. Once Dubnyk showed up, it was a different team. He’d start 38 consecutive games, only getting a game off after the Wild clinched a playoff spot. The Wild finished the last 40 games with a record of 28-9-3.

The 1st round started with Devan Dubnyk getting his first experience in the postseason. Save for a bad Game 4, where the Wild must have forgotten there was a game and lost 6-1, he would play his consistent great game and he may have gotten better after those bad 2 periods in Game 4.

The Wild A.D. (After Dubnyk) went 2-0 versus the Blackhawks, winning 3-0 at home in February and 2-1 in Chicago in April in the game that clinched a spot in the playoffs. The Wild B.D. (Before Dubnyk) lost all 3 of their games against Chicago before that, 5-3, 4-2 and 4-1. 13 goals against in 3 games to 1 goal against in 2 games is a pretty big difference.

The Wild had some struggles against the Blues but they seemed to “wake up” after getting blown out on their home ice in Game 4. They played better defensively since that game, playing with less panic and more poise. The confidence in their game came back and this team may have learned how to play a consistent game in the playoffs. No panic in their overall game will serve them well in the 2nd round.

What are the main factors when it comes to winning a series in the playoffs? There’s the obvious – the play of the goalie and special teams. The Wild have Dubnyk who’s been great. Their power play came alive in round 1 scoring 4 goals in 12 power plays. They had the best penalty kill in the NHL in the regular season and shut down the Blues, only allowing 2 goals in 11 power plays. The Blackhawks went back and forth in the 1st round with their goalies, they had the worst penalty kill of any team in the playoffs and their power play was only 3 for 19.

Looking at stats can only tell you so much as each team played a different opponent so it’s difficult to say the results would be the same against everyone in the league or everyone in the playoffs.

We can look at the talent on each team. The majority of people will say the Blackhawks have more talent than the Wild. They have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, etc… It’s hard to argue with their talent. The Wild do have Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Ryan Suter, Jason Zucker and more so they’re no slouch in talent.. All the talent in the world doesn’t mean anything against a team playing their system the right way, playing with confidence and working their asses off all over the ice.

How about depth at forward and defense and the whole lineup? The Wild got ahead and stayed ahead, came back to win once, every win was more than one goal and they won two games on the road. The Blackhawks had to continually come from behind and couldn’t hold leads throughout the 1st round. They allowed the Predators to respond quickly time after time.

My bottom line is the Minnesota Wild seem to have the team with more depth, are playing better in all areas of the game. They could be the Blackhawks from 2010 or 2013. Everything seems to be clicking at the right time. This is a team on a mission and they are ready to get over the hump of beating the Chicago Blackhawks now. They are not in awe of them like 2013. They are playing confident in every area of their game.

It will be a great series regardless of who wins, that’s for sure.

My prediction is Wild in 6!!!

Here’s the Series Schedule:

Game 1: @Chicago Friday 5/1 8:30 PM NBCSN

Game 2: @Chicago Sunday 5/3 7:30 PM NBCSN

Game 3: @Minnesota Tuesday 5/5 7:00 PM NBCSN

Game 4: @Minnesota Thursday 5/7 8:30 PM NBCSN

Game 5: @Chicago Saturday 5/9 TBD*

Game 6: @Minnesota Monday 5/11 TBD*

Game 7: @Chicago Wednesday 5/13 TBD*

What are your thoughts on this 2nd round match-up? Who do you got winning and why?

Bring The Clutter in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook or Google+!