With just two days remaining in 2021, many people have made plans for ringing in the new year and perhaps, have even identified their New Year’s resolution(s). I’ll be working the morning shift driving the Zamboni at our local rinks and then chilling at home with family to end the year. No New Year’s resolution for me, other than reading more books. I have Mike Eruzione’s book The Making of A Miracle just waiting for me to finish my current book before I start that – so I got that going for me, which is nice.
Of course, hockey fans in Minnesota have a lot to be excited for as we look forward to the coming year. The Wild obviously have had a great start to the season and have a solid grasp on a playoff appearance. Though they have played just four games (losing all four of them) since December 11th due to COVID-related postponements, they will host the St. Louis Blues on New Year’s Day at Target Field in the 2022 Winter Classic. The Wild have now actually dropped into second place in the Central Division behind the visiting Blues by one point, although the Blues have also played two more games than Minnesota. The Wild have had a total of five games postponed due to COVID, with more surely to come.
With not a lot of games played recently, the Wild front office has been busy working on contract extensions to the coaching staff. Head Coach, Dean Evason, Assistant coaches Darby Hendrickson, Brett McLean and Bob Woods, goaltending coach Frederic Chabot, and video coaches T.J. Jindra and Jonas Plumb all received contract extensions this week, and deservedly so. The Wild have been 62-29-7 under Evason as Head Coach and the Wild have transformed into a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup. Kudos to the front office for locking up a great group of coaches for the long-term.
In other Wild-related news, General Manager Bill Guerin was named as General Manager of the 2022 United States Olympic Men’s Hockey Team earlier in December. The Olympics begin February 4 in Beijing, China, but will be without any NHL players. NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman issued a statement last Wednesday;
“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament. Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events — 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 — Olympic participation is no longer feasible. We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.”
I get it, the NHL season has certainly been disrupted, but it would sure be nice to see NHL’ers suiting up for their respective countries and Team USA led by Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane and more. NHL players are not happy about the decision, with Brad Marchand and Vladimir Tarasenko being the most vocal. “Let the players make their own choice,” said Marchand. Regardless of what the players say, it will not happen – which sucks. But hey, it gives the younger talent in the U.S. a chance to shine and to bring home the first gold in U.S. Men’s Hockey since 1980. It’s a long-shot, but miracles happen. Happy New Year everyone!!!!