Saturday, 19 December 2009

The "Wildfire" Term Is Cliché

As you've most likely heard by now, the Minnesota Wild were struck with some extreme misfortune yesterday around 2PM when their equipment truck caught fire. There was a lot of speculation as to what may happen and if the game should be postponed, but the Wild played against the Senators tonight. Let's work through some of the details.

First off, there was a major push from the Team of 18,000 in and around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area when it came to their team. The prevailing reports is that the Wild's office was flooded with calls from fans who wanted to help out any way they could to ensure that their team had equipment. Honestly, this is why I love the game of hockey. The fans are incredible, and they really love their teams. Well done, Minnesotans!

The Minnesota Star Tribune had a phenomenal story on all the items lost in the bonfire. Michael Russo deserves a lot of credit for bringing to light all of the items lost. Something that needed to be considered were custom-made items that players used. Russo wrote:

Defensemen, such as shot-blocking specialist Greg Zanon, have modified their equipment over several years in order to protect certain places. Center Eric Belanger wears a custom-made brace for his right foot after breaking it two seasons ago.
Between comfort and safety, the Wild's equipment manager had a ton on his plate, and was looking at an all-nighter in terms of work.

The men who work tirelessly for the players must be commended for the miracle they pulled off to have the Wild in uniform tonight. According to the Wild's website, there was a team of individuals who essentially made the impossible come true. Greg Andresen wrote:
Amazingly, tonight's game between the Wild and Senators is on, and it wouldn't be possible if not for the Wild's equipment staff and trainers, who worked all night last night, and all day today, to get the healthy players ready for this one. Tony DaCosta, Travis Green, John Worley and Doc Fuller worked all night last night to clean the gear that survived, while Brent Proulx flew home last nght and returned this morning with Matt Benz, Chris Pietrzak-Wegner and a bundle of replacement gear for tonight's game. Now, about 28 hours after the blaze started, the Wild is skating around in pregame warmups and they don't look any different than they did two nights ago when they won their ninth game in 11 contests.
Simply amazing, right? Seven men dedicated themselves to hours of work and preparation to put the Wild players back on the ice like nothing happened. These men deserve to be recognized for their efforts, and HBIC salutes them for this incredible feat. Well done, gentlemen!

The Minnesota Star Tribune also ran a story about players heading out to local stores in the Ottawa region to replace their lost equipment. The second page outlines the amazing work that DaCosta and his team did, including details about each member's contribution. Again, I am in awe of these men, and I may have to pay respect to them in a future visit to Minneapolis-St. Paul. The timeline that these men followed is here, and it's really amazing to think that they pulled this entire task off in less than twelve hours.

There is speculation that the start of the fire was a propane torch that the players use to change the blades and angles on their sticks. The new torches no longer have the knob to turn the flame on or off; rather, they simply turn at the top and the flame turns on or off. If this is the case, this is simply bad luck at its worst.

According to that last Minnesota Star Tribune article, the stuff that took the brunt of the flame was the equipment on top. Essentially, the players who are last out of the dressing room after a game or practice have their stuff tossed on top as the equipment piles up. There might be races between Wild players now to get their stuff on the truck first.

The good news is that the Wild did play tonight, although they didn't play very well. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Wild by a 4-1 score, and that can't be entirely attributed to the new equipment. However, everyone was in full uniform, and the Wild even had made provisions in case either goaltender wasn't comfortable. Both Backstrom and Harding dressed, but the Wild had recalled Anton Khudobin from the AHL's Houston Aeros just in case. He wasn't called upon, but perhaps it's just better to forget this weekend and head home.

The Wild do have a family day tomorrow as they participate in their Holiday Party to start an entire week without hockey games. After this weekend, a little unwinding should be in order. Again, full marks and all my respect to DaCosta and his team, and full marks to the Minnesota Wild franchise and the Team of 18,000.

I'd make a crack about a roaring fire in front of the Christmas tree, but that seems a little inappropriate at this juncture.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Nuuuuugs said...

The unheard, unheralded portion of the story. Nice job.

David said...

I thought I was a hockey fan - until I saw your blog and this story. Bravo and well done... and keep up the great work.

Teebz said...

Nugs - there are probably hundreds of stories like this, and I think they should be told. Thanks.

David - thanks!