REMINDER: There are Aeros Scrimmages Open To The Public This Weekend

It's been mentioned a couple times but in these NHL-less times one more reminder will do. Minnesota's AHL affiliate Houston will have the first three days of their training camp in St. Paul beginning today (September 28) and running through Sunday September 30.

Best of all, there are two free scrimmages at the Xcel Energy Center open to the public. Saturday's scrimmage begins at 11 a.m. CT while Sunday's is at 10 a.m. And for those who live outside the Twin Cities metro (we know there's a lot of you), both scrimmages will be streamed on

This is a good opportunity to see young prospects like 2010 first round pick Mikael Granlund in action before they make the Wild in addition to NHL veterans. Most of the organization's young prospects are in camp while returning players like Chay Genoway, Justin Fontaine and Drew Bagnall are there as well. That's only the tip of the iceberg - the entire roster can be found here while Kevin Falness talked to more than 35 players there to get to know them as a preview for this weekend.

We'll hopefully have something on the scrimmages up over the weekend after getting our hockey-starved fix.

If This Lockout Ever Ends, Mathew Dumba May Be Recalled

Although he is currently serving a two-game suspension for a hit to the head, 2012 first round pick Mathew Dumba is on another list. And this one isn't naughty.
According to the great Bob McKenzie Tuesday, every NHL team had to make a list in August of players drafted out of the CHL they would recall once it was possible and for the Wild their lone player is Mathew Dumba.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #6 - Matt Hackett

 Matt Hackett
Goaltender, 6'2" 173 Pounds
Houston Aeros (AHL) 20-17-6 .917 SV/2.38 GAA (44 Games/Minnesota Wild (NHL) 3-6-0 .922 SV/2.38 GAA (12 Games)

Not since Josh Harding has Minnesota had a so-called "goaltender of the future", and for now Matt Hackett is certainly filling that role. Taken in the third round of the 2009 Entry Draft as a 19 year old, he's taken over as the guy in Houston, and even set a record when he made his NHL debut last Fall.

Wild Prospect Notes: Dumba Suspended, Tragedy In Nanne Family, Houston Sets Lines & More

This weekend was the start of the CHL season and it didn't take long for Red Deer Rebels defenseman (and 2012 Minnesota first round pick) Mathew Dumba to make an impact.

Mathew Dumba suspended 2 games for a hit to the head

One of the quotes that followed Dumba around the Draft was, "it's difficult because the one characteristic that Dumba brings [more] than the other guys is the fact his competitive level is off the charts." He doesn't have an off switch, which is good for playing both ends of the ice, but also leads to earth shattering open ice hits that catch the rue of the WHL.

This Is Your "Dan Terhaar Getting Hacked" News

While I don't want to make light of someone being hacked - it happens - this just seemed too good to not share because it's kind of fitting after writing a few things about the sender.

As of now it looks like everything has been taken fixed on Mr. Terhaar's end. We now return you to your regularly scheduled NHL Lockout.

9/23 Wild Headlines: Taiwanese Animation, Derek Boogaard, Jared Spurgeon, Lockout & More (Non Prospects Edition)

Editor's note: It's been a while since we've done a post filled with links so between that guilt and knowing a couple of these subjects won't get their proper due, here are the best Wild and NHL-related links (prospects excluded) throughout the mainstream media and blogosphere.

God bless Taiwanese animation.

To Go To Europe Or Stay At Home?

Chicken Little is right - the sky is falling, all is lost and the NHL has locked out its players for the third time in 18 years.

Okay, maybe it isn't that bad. There haven't been any regular season games lost yet (let's be honest, no one really cares about the preseason) and the players and owners have been slowly working their way closer to a deal. However, one thing that can be interpreted as a sign to bunker in for the long haul is the number of players who have signed deals in Europe.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #7 - Brett Bulmer

Brett Bulmer
Left Wing 6'3" 193 lbs
Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 62 points (34G-28A) in 53 games /Minnesota Wild (NHL) 3 points (0G-3A) in 9 games /Houston Aeros (AHL) 2 points (1G-1A) in 6 games

It isn't often that a player with junior options works his way into a NHL lineup but that is exactly what Brett Bulmer did last fall. He was every bit the feel-good story Jason Zucker was, only six months earlier. By the end of his nine-game stint, critics and fans alike were debating whether or not to burn a year of the first of 3 2010 second round pick's entry-level contract to keep him up with the Wild.

And there were plenty in the "for" camp.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #8 - Jason Zucker

Photo Courtesy of Marilyn Indahl/US PRESSWIRE
Jason Zucker
Left Wing, 5'11" 186 Pounds
Denver University (NCAA)/Minnesota Wild 22-24-46 Points (38 Games)/0-2-2 (6 Games)

Anytime during the course of a season where the bottom has dropped out, you look for glimmers of hope- a trade, a call up of a prospect, anything that causes the average fan to retain some sort of excitement about what the future may hold. That things aren't all gloom and doom, despite the wreckage that is unfolding on the ice in front of you. The Wild fanbase caught such a glimpse this Spring when Jason Zucker joined the team for six games following the end of his Denver Pioneers season.

There Will Be A Training Camp In St. Paul...

...but it won't be Minnesota's...for now. The Houston Aeros, who will be chock full of young talent this year, will spend three days in St. Paul for Camp, which will culminate in two public scrimmages- Saturday, September 29th at 11 a.m., and Sunday, September 30th, at 10 a.m. The gates will open at 10:30 Saturday Morning, and 9:30 Sunday. The Xcel will also serve as a hub for the Fourth Annual Used Equipment Drive.

So its kind of like Prospect Development Camp, but it isn't. But still kind of is- I guess it depends on whether or not Joel Broda displays his champion form.

Also worth noting is that The Aeros will play the Rockford Ice Hogs at the X Sunday, November 15th.

HERE is the Training Camp Roster.

(and they really went after all angles luring Ryan Suter to St. Paul, because his little brother Garrett is on the roster.)

(just kidding.)

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #9 - Zack Phillips

Zack Phillips
Center, 6'1" 180 lbs
Saint John (QMJHL) 80 points (30G-50A) in 60 games

If this was a Minnesota prospect beard ranking, Zack Phillips would easily take the top spot. Just look at that beard. It puts yours, mine and everyone's to shame.

Unfortunately for Phillips, this is a ranking of Wild prospects on ability, potential and likelihood to reach it and in that, he's ninth.

Give NHL Fans BS? (We Will Call You On It...)

With the commencement of the 2012-2013 NHL Lockout, both sides of the conflict are attempting to rally the fans to their side. The NHL and Teams have all released letters in an attempt to placate the fans as well as a constant message that we are the "best fans in the world". The NHLPA's PR machine has been in over-drive in their efforts to garner the public sympathy to their side.

As more and more time progresses, I hear more fans being swayed to the owners side than those that are buying the PR of the NHLPA. Every time that Allan Walsh tweets something ridiculous, another fan is lost to the "dark side". What the Players Union doesn't realize, I think, is...

We are NOT the same as Baseball fans.

This Is Your "News About Colton Jobke" Leader...

In what may be one of the only times we'll ever highlight a news nugget about Colton Jobke, it appears that he, a defenseman for the Regina Pats, is caught in the middle of the trickle down effect of the NHL Lockout.

yeah, this guy.

Last week NHL teams sent roughly 6 quadrillion players down to their American Hockey League Affiliates so they would have a place to play- remember in 2004 Minnesota sent Brent Burns, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Mikko Koivu to Houston- and Jobke was amongst the 20-something 20-somethings assigned to The Aeros.

Well, because of that...he can't suit up and play for Regina during Western League play. He's not the only player in that sort of limbo, although his situation is AHL-specific; Neate Seger of Buzzing The Net has been detailing the situations that Major Junior teams will be dealing with in terms of whether or not their NHL drafted players on roster will actually play for them this year. Signed as a CHL free agent in 2010, Jobke has quietly taken part in Prospect Camps and The Traverse City Prospect Tournament ever since.

There is a chance he'll return to Regina, but he could very well find himself a spot with The Aeros.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #10 - Mario Lucia

Courtesy of
Mario Lucia
Left Wing, 6'2" 187 Pounds
Penticton Vees (BCHL) 42-51=93 (56 Games)

It was a Hallmark moment in June 2011, as Minnesota traded their 3rd and 4th round picks to Vancouver to jump up to the 60th pick overall, amble up to the microphone, and call out Mario Lucia's name. The Wayzata Trojan, The son of the University of Minnesota Head Hockey Coach, The hometown kid...well, he went west to Penticton. And now he's become one hell of a player.

This Donald Fehr Headline In D2: The Mighty Ducks Is All Sorts Of Eerie

If you haven't noticed, I'm a big fan of The Mighty Ducks trilogy. The series of 90s Disney movies aren't the best hockey films ever made but came along at the right time for me to have a real sense of nostalgia over them. How much? Enough where I'll sit down and watch D2 on television at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night after stumbling across it.

While I can't count (or want to admit) the number of times I've seen each Mighty Ducks movie, it doesn't matter because every time I watch one there is something new to discover. Last night was no different.

Maybe it was because of the NHL Lockout being on everyone's mind but the adjacent headline after Team USA beat Italy stuck out like a sore thumb. Whether it is 1994 or 2012, Donald Fehr is always there...even in fictional children's movies.

How eerie is that?

Breaking Down the Numbers: Lockout Edition

While I've read quite a bit of opinion pieces attacking the NHL and the players, few lockout related articles really break down the numbers to my satisfaction.  So I spent several hours digging around and crunching numbers and have at least a better understanding of the lockout and will try and break it down.

A quick summary of why there is an NHL lockout right now: Two billion dollars.  

That is the difference between the current NHL revenue share between the owners and players and the proposal by the NHL.  The NHL argues that they are losing money because NHL salaries are too high as the players get 57% of revenue.  The NBA and NFL recently moved to roughly an even 50-50 split, and the owners want to get at or below that number.

On the flip side, the NHLPA (players) took a pay cut and accepted a salary cap (reducing potential revenues) seven years ago, losing an entire season of hockey and pay in the process.  They realize they will have to sacrifice some revenue share, but they want to keep as much of it as possible and potentially avoid future lockouts.

So there were two proposals on the table before Saturday's lockout, regardless of what either side claims.  Let’s break these down and see what the differences are.

First, let's look at the current revenue share.  In 2005-06 the share was 54% of hockey revenue to the players and 46% to the owners.  This was put in place so they would share profits or losses depending on how the league fared.  Remember, in 2005 the NHL was off ESPN and off the radar in the United States with the Outdoor Life Network airing games.  It was not a good time.

Fortunately, the NHL has had steady growth since the last lockout.  Aside from teams generating more revenues, there was a big NBC TV deal, multiple Winter Classic profits, strong Canadian dollars compared to the US dollar, and the relocation of Atlanta to Winnipeg.  Here are the estimated revenues (using the salary cap) and the annual revenue growth:

2005-06: $1.96B
2006-07: $2.27B (15%)
2007-08: $2.56B (13%)
2008-09: $2.56B (0%)
2009-10: $2.71B (5%)
2010-11: $2.96B (10%)
2011-12: $3.27B (10%)

The NHL has had great revenue growth, so why the disagreement leading to lockout?  Well, revenues are not profits, and not all teams are profitable.  Revenues are all the money generated by the league, but there are costs in addition to the players’ salaries.  And larger salaries mean higher costs for small market teams which cannot afford to keep up.

The NHL salary floor (minimum spending on players) has $16M below the salary since the 2004-05 lockout.  That means in 2005-06, teams had to spend at least $23M on their players.  That’s not so bad for a small market team like the Islanders or the Predators.  But last year, they were required to spend at least $48.3M on their players, nearly double the amount in 2005-06.

And while revenues might have gone up for the league as a whole, they didn’t go up for every single NHL team.  The poorer teams have required some revenue sharing just to make ends meet, but even then it is difficult to keep up with teams like Toronto and Montreal who take in truckloads of cash annually and can afford to spend $16M more (two superstar players or several better players) while making profits instead of losses.

Back to the subject at hand, let’s look at what the players’ share of revenues has been since the lockout (roughly):

2005-06: $0.93B
2006-07: $1.08B
2007-08: $1.27B
2008-09: $1.46B
2009-10: $1.46B
2010-11: $1.54B
2011-12: $1.69B

Now we have a sense of what’s at stake: the players are rushing towards nearly $2B in salaries annually, and the NHL wants that number to back off quite a bit.  This would allow the smaller teams to afford to compete again as well as make some money for the owners (outside the scope of this article is that owners often make money, even if they record losses, with arena revenues, parking revenues, concessions, etc, and that often teams can be a tax write-off for the wealthy).

Before we dig into the proposals, let’s project salaries for the next five years.  That’s the rough number for each side’s proposal.  I will assume that revenues will either remain constant or increase somewhat because the NHL has yet to lose money.  So here would be salary expenditures for the next five years with different annual growth rates of 0% (flat), 4%, 7.1% (I’ll come back to this number), and 10%:

0% growth: $9.35B
4% growth: $10.53B
7% growth: $11.54B
10% growth: $12.56B

The 7.1% figure is important because it is the NHLPA’s proposed average annual growth prediction.  Since the last lockout, revenues have increased by an average of 11.1% annually.  If we take only the last five years, where there has been much lower growth, it's 5.5%.  The 7.1% figure is not overly conservative or aggressive, and it has been circulated in the media as a midpoint for projections.

Now, the NHL proposals.  Aside from the initial proposal made in June that dropped players’ revenue share from 57% to 43% while capping contracts and prolonging free agency, the latest proposal is a 49% share in year one, 48% in year two, and 47% in years three through five.  With the above growth rates, five-year salary expenditures would be:

0% growth: $7.86B
4% growth: $8.79B
7% growth: $9.62B
10% growth: $10.46B

Depending on the revenues, the players would be giving up $1.5-2 billion in salaries to the owners over the next five years.  Quite a bit of money, and that’s why we are seeing a lockout.

On the flip side, there is the NHLPA proposal.  This one is quite a bit different.  Unlike the previous CBA and the NHL's proposal, It mostly de-links salaries from revenues with a little exception in years 4 and 5.  The first three years are 2%, 4%, and 6% over current revenues respectively, and the fourth and fifth years would add 57% of growth in HRR for each of those years.

Depending on the NHL’s growth (or lack thereof), the player revenue share percentages are all over the map.  Using the 7.1% growth rate, the share would drop from 54.3% down to 52.4% over five years, an average of 52.7%.  But because share is not linked to revenues over the first few years, there could be a number of interesting scenarios:

0% growth = 62.2%
4% growth = 56.5%
7 growth = 52.7%
10% growth = 49.6%

It looks like it would benefit players (in terms of share) if there's no revenue growth!  But if we look at the total dollars in salaries paid over the five years:

0% growth = $10.20B
4% growth = $10.44B
7% growth = $10.67B
10% growth = $10.93B

Essentially what is happening is that salaries remain relatively flat over five years.  There's an element of cost (to the league, for the players it would be income) certainty with their proposal.  Obviously from a percentage standpoint it looks horrible if there's little to no growth, but from a historic average, and we'd likely see 5-10% annual growth, it's not bad at all.

Here’s the difference between the NHL and NHLPA proposals over five years:

0% growth = $2.39B
4% growth = $1.65B
7% growth = $1.05B
10% growth = $0.46B

So are the NHL and NHLPA miles apart on the core economics?  It depends on how serious Don Fehr is about an alternative revenue calculation.  While it's intriguing, I am not sure the NHLPA wants to lose several months of salary to blow up salary calculations and start over.

Instead, I am guessing it is a negotiation tactic.  Negotiation 101 says you start miles apart and ask for the moon.  The NHL definitely did this when proposing a 43% share for the players down from 57% ON TOP of a reduction in revenue calculations that would favor the league.  The players did the same thing when they said they would continue to play under the current (previous) CBA at 57%.

Common sense says they will probably meet in the middle at nearly a 50-50 split.  But there is no need for the players to have signed the last NHL proposal.  Again, negotiations are a game of chicken and neither side wants to blink.  NHL games were not scheduled to start for nearly a month, so spending 2-3 weeks posturing and playing up the PR, threatening to sign in Europe, etc are all expected.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is no activity to meet in the next week or so.

But if the players take such a hard stance that they delay the season, they will ultimately lose no matter the agreement.  NHL revenues were roughly $2.73B last year.  If they eventually agree to a 50% split, that’s $1.64B at stake, nearly the difference between the last proposals at 4% growth.  Not only that, but another year of lost goals and points.  For older players like Teemu Selanne and Daniel Alfredsson, this could be their last chance to play in the NHL and bolster their point totals.  For guys like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, this could be a potential 50 goal, 100 point season away from their Hall of Fame career numbers.

I am guessing that after a week of posturing, players will come back to the table with a more traditional deal and numbers much closer to that of the NHL’s offer, but will likely ask for concessions (such as contract length, Olympic involvement, and lower escrow payments).  I don’t think the first offer or two will result in a deal, but I would be very surprised if the lockout extends past October.  After 2005-06, I don’t think anyone wants a prolonged lockout.

Becoming Wild "Chapter II" Episode 2 Review

"Hard working. Responsible. A reliable two-way center." These words begin Kyle Brodziak's episode of "Becoming Wild" and over the next thirty minutes describe a 24 hour period for the Minnesota center around his Sherwood Park, Alberta home.

The day begins with a pair of workouts - yoga and running a large set of stairs - coupled with lip service talking about how much he loves the Wild and State of Hockey. It's similar to what we've seen in previous episodes (in fact the stairs was its own webisode) but differs from Cal Clutterbuck's episode. There are no weights in sight yet that doesn't stop the effort Brodziak gives in each discipline.

Plus it takes skill to do yoga in a hat.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #11 - Johan Gustafsson

Johan Gustafsson
Goaltender, 6'1" 187 lbs
Lulea (SEL) 1.68/.932 Save % (29 games)

Credit goes to the sixth round pick in 2010 for coming a long way in the past year, turning what was a dynamic goaltender duo into a trio. Gustafsson spent the first year after being drafted in lower levels of hockey in his native Sweden, bouncing around between the under-20 league and Allsvenskan (the Swedish AHL) before getting a chance this year with Lulea of the Swedish Elite League. He made the most of the opportunity, finishing fifth with .932 save percentage, and took over the starting job.

Not bad for a 20 year-old.

Top-5 Thursday: "Things To Do During A Lockout" Edition

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday (or a day that ends in a "y") I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

Provided there is a miraculous 11th hour deal, it looks like the NHL is going to take the route of the NFL and NBA and lock its players out Saturday at midnight. This will be the third labor dispute in 18 years and follows the cancellation of the entire 2004-2005 season over the previous collective bargaining agreement. While it's disappointing to see a repeat of eight years ago, the fact is that both the players association and owners are looking out for their best interests and those interests contain millions of dollars.

So instead of going in-depth on the issues separating the two sides, lets look at the top five things to do during a Lockout.

HOLD THE PHONE...Nick Palmieri is doing what?!?

In a post yesterday by the inimitable Mike Russo on his Russo's Rants Star Tribune blog, he covered some ground on the impending Lockout, that Wild prospects will go to Houston, and some other stuff too.
But there was a nugget buried in the tea leaves, one that could have soul crushing implications for Wild fans everywhere.

9/12 Wild Notes: Mathew Dumba, Zack Phillips, Becoming Wild & More

-2012 first round round pick Mathew Dumba has begun the WHL preseason with a scoreless first game but you can read about how Marco Scandella has helped him out in an interview with Sportsnet.

-Dumba unfortunately can't be happy with Hockey's Future after they came up with their semi-annual top-20 Wild prospects list. Spoiler: he's fourth. profiled Zack Phillips and his fishing fixation. And his on-ice workouts during the summer.

-For those who may or may not have enjoyed last week's "Becoming Wild," Thursday's episode may be the last one if there is a Lockout. (Star Tribune)

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #12 - Darcy Kuemper

Courtesy of Jason Villeneuva

Darcy Kuemper
Goaltender, 6'4" 212 Pounds
Ontario Reign (ECHL)/Houston Aeros (AHL) 7-1, 1.74/.941 Save% (8 games)/ 6-6-4, 2.36/.923 (19 Games)

A byproduct of the 2009 Entry Draft Day trade that brought Kyle Brodziak to Minnesota (Chuck Fletcher traded a 4th and 5th round pick to Edmonton for Brodziak and Edmonton's 6th round pick, 161st overall), Kuemper has excelled since he was scout at Hockey Canada's Goalie Camp by Goalie Coach Bob Mason and then-Assistant GM Tommy Thompson. The large and athletic goalie has gone from project to legitimate goaltending prospect since that point.

That Mike Yeo & KFAN Wild Commercial We Talked About Last Week

Remember last week's Top-5 Thursday which broke down a totally staged awkward photo between Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo and multiple KFAN personalities? Well here's the end product, a 30 second commercial where Yeo gives the hosts a "pep talk."

Oddly enough a couple points we made ended up being in the commercial. Plus there's a Russo cameo at the end.

Becoming Wild "Chapter II" Episode 1 Review

During a point towards the end of this year's opening "Becoming Wild" episode, Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck is walking around his hometown Welland, Ontario arena. As Cal is marveling at the 1940s Toronto Star clock which still stands and discussing his hockey memories, he's doing it on a rink with no ice which stands out. It's the closest we get to seeing actual hockey or any discussed as this year's six-episode Becoming Wild series shifts its focus from management to players.

There isn't anything wrong with the switch because simply there has been a need for Wild broadcaster Fox Sports North and the team themselves to promote their players. It's one aspect that got lost in the shuffle of season 1 - outside of the Draft episode, there were few moments showing and talking about players who finished 2010-2011 on Minnesota. Instead, the series focused on General Manager Chuck Fletcher bringing in new head coach Mike Yeo and the preparations his staff undertook for the 2011 NHL Draft in St. Paul and subsequent free agency period.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #13 - Erik Haula

Erik Haula
Center, 5'11" 192 lbs
University of Minnesota (WCHA) 49 points (20G-29A) in 43 games

There are Wild prospects playing overseas who we get a chance to see a couple times a year and partially rely on stats and scouts Then there is Erik Haula.

Haula, Minnesota's seventh round pick in 2009, has been in the spotlight of both local fans and amateur scouts everywhere as the Finnish forward enters his junior season at the University of Minnesota. Wild fans have the chance to go just down the road from the Xcel Energy Center to Mariucci Arena and see him while a certain author of this article also dabbles in covering the Gophers. Haula has been covered multiple times by Dan in prospect viewings and even got a full feature in the initial Wild Prospect Handbook (cheap plug: it's free to download).

So what's one more?

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #14 - Daniel Gunnarsson

Photo courtesy of Elite Prospects
Daniel Gunnarsson
Defense, 6'4" 192 Pounds
Lulea J20/Lulea (Swedish Elite League) 2-1-3 in 6 games/4-3-7 in 43 games

The book on the 2012 Entry Draft was that after the first 50-60 players it pretty much became a crap shoot- meaning that teams could use their mid to late round picks to take chances on projects, overage kids who had been passed over once or twice, or take the son of one of the members of their scouting staff.
Minnesota pretty much did that- taking long-term development projects like John Draeger, Adam Gilmour, Christoph Bertschy, and Louie Nanne. None of them may have the upside of their 5th round pick, Daniel Gunnarsson.

9/7 Wild Notes: Becoming Wild, James Sheppard, John Draeger & More

If you missed it, the debut episode of "Becoming Wild: Chapter II" is available for viewing on both and above this sentence. There's a lot to digest as cameras follow Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck and we'll try to have a review of all the action (and lack of it) tomorrow. Yes I said I'd unleash my inner TV critic on it today but like when your parents said they'd take you to Toys R' Us, that's not happening.

More notes and links after the jump.

One Year Ago....

...was the Lokomotiv plane crash which saw 44 people, including former Wild forward Pavol Demitra, lose their lives. While the team has been rebuilt, the memories of those who perished will never be forgotten.

RIP Pavol.

Top-5 Thursday: "KFAN & Mike Yeo Awkward Photo" Edition

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday (or a day that ends in a "y") I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

Owly Images

The boxes are unpacked, the posters are hung up and I'm back in the "top five saddle" after Dan's excellent job earlier in the week about the top things he doesn't like about the Wild. Sorry guys and gals.

This week's version concerns the above photo, which features the regular KFAN 100.3FM radio crew (Superstar Mike Morris and Chris Hawkey from the Power Trip Morning Show, Vikings VOX Paul Allen, Dan "Common Man" Cole and Dan Barriero) getting a "pep talk" from Wild head coach Mike Yeo. Besides being corporate synergy at its finest, as the sports talk station owns the radio rights to Minnesota games, it's also likely a staged promotional picture. Everyone is sitting from left to right in order of their show, are all nonchalant in a way that conveniently fits their on-air persona and most of all this was sent out by the Wild's official account.

But that doesn't mean the ridiculousness and awkwardness shouldn't be discussed.

REMINDER: Becoming Wild Season II Debuts Tonight At 7 PM Central

After 17 webisodes running the gamut from prospect camp to running Edmonton stairs, Fox Sports North will air the first of six episodes tonight (Thursday September 6th) at 7:00 PM CT. New episodes will air each Thursday until October 11th and give an inside look at a day in the life of a Minnesota Wild player.

If you miss it (or don't have a DVR), FSN will air the debut episode throughout the week. Encore viewings include 3:30 AM Sunday morning, 5 AM Monday, 10:30 PM Monday, 7 AM Tuesday and 11:30 AM Wednesday.

Tonight's episode will be followed by the "Wild Roundtable" from July after the team signed former New Jersey forward Zach Parise and former Nashville Predator defenseman Ryan Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts.

As always, tune in to First Round Bust afterward. We'll have our thoughts on the debut episode live on Twitter (follow @FRBHockey) and a review Friday morning.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #15 - Raphael Bussieres

Raphael Bussieres
Left Wing, 6'1" 195 lbs
Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) 21-23-44 in 56 games

We're back counting down the top 20 prospects in the Minnesota Wild organization after a Labor Day-inspired hiatus. When we last left you, Houston Aero Kris Foucault was named the 16th-best prospect and discussing how he may be the original "tweener" mode in the pool. Right above him in fifteenth is the newest one - 2012 second round pick Raphael Bussieres.

Guest Post: "Birthday Wish"

As you may know, we here at First Round Bust have an "Open Pulpit" policy, in which we encourage readers, fellow fans, critics,philosophers, poetic waxers, etc. to use FRB as a spot to voice their opinion. If you'd like to do so, don't hesitate to contact us via email or on the Twitters.

Without further ado, this is from Tim Freitag

Dear NHL owners and NHLPA,

    My birthday is coming up this week, and I’ve thought a lot about what I’d like for my 32nd birthday. I have been watching quite a bit of HGTV lately, and have thought about adding flowing hardwood floors to complete the open concept in my home, but that’s not what I really want. What I really want is for you and those you represent to pull your heads out of your collective behinds and get a deal done.

 I am not a casual fan. I am someone who eats, sleeps, thinks about the NHL, and more specifically, the Minnesota Wild. As a fervent supporter of your great sport, my concern is that you’re throwing away the goodwill and momentum you have built since the last lockout. I am writing you today to warn you that the current displeasure amongst fans may soon turn to apathy.

After losing an entire season back in 04-05, you have built fans and revenue through rules changes, increased player skill, and the Winter Classic. I couldn’t be any happier for your good fortune, but it seems you are discounting the most important ingredient in this mix… the fans. By not playing, you won’t build your fan count, and you certainly won’t increase revenues. Furthermore, if your labor dispute cuts into the season, you won’t give fans the ramp-up period to get excited for this season. Personally, I’ll be very bummed out by a shortened season after Mr. Fletcher added Suter and Parise.

I understand that the issues you are trying to iron out are not simple, and I also understand it is very important for you to protect your interests. What I am trying to do with this letter is to protect my interests. I grew up as a fan of all four sports, but as a husband, restaurant manager, and soon-to-be father, I don’t have the time or energy to follow all of the local teams. The reason I have chosen to follow the NHL is because hockey is the most exciting game in the world.

 Now, after 4 seasons of underperformance from our local guys, we finally have some excitement back in the State of Hockey. Unfortunately, if there is no NHL season, there’s really nowhere else to go as a sports fan in Minnesota. I don’t Morneau how the Twins got so bad. I have no Kluwe how the Vikings are going to win more than 5 games this year. And although I grew up playing basketball, I don’t Kevin Love the NBA game.

I hope you will take my concerns to heart and give me the only thing I really want for my birthday. Please get on the same page with each other and get back to playing the game you all love, so I can watch.

Yours Truly,

Kari Takko

John Madden Retires; Hired By Montreal As A Scout

One of those players everyone likes is calling it a career and working with a team many hate.

Per the Montreal Canadiens, 13-year NHL player John Madden will join the team and scout for collegiate free agents. It's something Madden, who signed with Minnesota on August 6, 2010 and played one season for the Wild, knows all too well. The former Michigan Wolverine went undrafted before signing with the New Jersey Devils after four years of college and parlayed that into 3 Stanley Cups (two with the Devils, one with the Blackhawks in 2010).

Montreal has had limited success with signing collegiate undrafted free agents. Former Denver Pioneer Brock Trotter signed with the Canadiens midway through his sophomore year yet only played two games in the NHL before having his rights traded to Phoenix. Meanwhile, other teams like division rival Toronto (with Trotter's DU teammate Tyler Bozak) and Philadelphia (former Bemidji State forward Matt Read) have had more success with finding these gems and developing them.

At the very least, it can't hurt a team who finished last in the Eastern Conference this year.

Madden ends a career that spanned four teams - Devils, Blackhawks, Wild and Florida Panthers - and 348 points.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #16 - Kris Foucault

Kris Foucault
Left Wing, 6'1" 202 Pounds
Houston Aeros (AHL)/Minnesota Wild (NHL) 14-18-32/0-0-0

I'm probably a little higher on Foucault than most, but I also see why some folks aren't convinced that he can be a player at the NHL level. Having just wrapped up his first professional season for Houston, and a solid one at that, he also made his NHL debut this last season. I saw him live during the 2011 Traverse City Prospect Tournament, where he saw top line duty with Zack Phillips and Brett Bulmer.

Top-5 Thursday: Things I Don't Like About The Minnesota Wild

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday (or a day that ends in a "y") I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

Hey gang- Nate is busy putting stuff in boxes, moving them, then unpacking them, so he tossed me the keys to this baby for a special guest edition of Top-5 Thursday. Today I thought we'd go in a different direction- let's count down the things that I, me personally, don't like about the same team that I write about.