For a team that hasn’t made the NHL playoffs since getting upset in the first round of the 2007-08 field mere weeks after clinching its first — and only — division title, there sure is a lot of optimism in Minnesota.
Single-game tickets went on sale Aug. 20, much earlier than usual, and the first fan had his tent pitched days ahead of time to snatch up the marquee games. The earlier on-sale date than in past seasons means, for the first time in team history, fans were able to purchase single-game tickets at the Wild booth located at “Fan Central” at the Minnesota State Fair, which began Aug. 25. The team also announced the introduction of demand-based pricing, which dynamically adjusts the price of individual tickets based purely on demand. This can be affected by rivalries, day-of-week, and top-tier teams or superstar players coming to Xcel Energy Center. The plan was for single-game ticket prices to be fixed at the regular prices through Sept. 30. Beginning Oct. 1, all remaining seats will be subject to demand-based pricing.
“The new system will adjust pricing for single-game tickets up or down, based on demand,” said John Maher, Vice President of Brand Marketing. “This system will reward fans who purchase their tickets early for the high-demand dates and opponents.”
NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – NOTES, QUOTES
–News of rookie head coach Mike Yeo’s trip to Finland to visit with captain C Mikko Koivu and G Niklas Backstrom in late July was widely reported and heavily applauded in the Twin Cities. Turns out, the move was well-received by the players as well. Though Koivu quipped that, “usually, what happens in Finland stays in Finland,” he offered some highlights of the trip to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Travel woes prevented Yeo and GM Chuck Fletcher from spending as much time with Backstrom as they had liked. But they did get to sit down to breakfast with him, a meeting Backstrom described as, “a fresh start.” Koivu picked up Yeo and Fletcher in his boat later that day, and they spent about 10 hours together. They had smoked salmon finger sandwiches for lunch, and Koivu grilled up steaks for dinner. They drank a few Karhu (Finnish beer), talked hockey and got to know each other. Yeo told Koivu about his philosophy and changes he intends to make and even discussed some possible line combinations, although neither was willing to share that publicly just yet.
“We had a good day together,” Koivu said. “It gives me confidence and I know what his expectations of me are.”
–The Wild released its promotional schedule for the year, and it includes the run-of-the-mill schedule posters, hats, trading cards and pucks. But here’s a twist: the first 5,000 female fans in attendance for the Feb. 14th game against Anaheim receives a box of chocolates.
–The Wild will make 10 national television appearances in the 2011-12 season, the same as the record number it had last season. Minnesota will make nine national appearances on Versus and will host the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins on NBC on Feb. 19.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “He’s a guy when it comes to the coach, he’s going to have these guys on board and going out and doing the things you want them to do.” — Wild rookie head coach Mike Yeo, of visiting with team captain Mikko Koivu recently in Finland.
NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – ROSTER REPORT
–With training camp just weeks away, it’s time to start seriously thinking about how the Wild plans on integrating all the new pieces together. A top line of Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley looks fine on paper, but will Heatley mesh with a pair of players who have gotten to know one another so well over the years?
–And then there’s the ongoing, wait-and-see saga of LW Guillaume Latendresse. Even team owner Craig Leipold has gone on record to say the 24-year-old was out of shape last season, and it led to his sports hernia and torn labrum injuries that ultimately halted his production at 11 games. Leipold has vowed to make sure Latendresse comes to camp svelte this time around.
–No one will be smiling brighter in camp than LW Colton Gillies. Fresh off a two-year contract extension in July, Gillies is primed to make his return to the NHL full-time. He played in 45 games as a wide-eyed 20-year-old in 2008-09, then was visibly upset upon learning he was expected to hone his game in the AHL the following year. One more for good measure was tacked on last winter, and with the departure of C James Sheppard, it’s clear a guy like Gillies will have as good of a chance as any of the up-and-comers to crack the final roster.