TORONTO – Devan Dubnyk thought it was a little odd to get a text message from teammate Alex Stalock so early in the morning. It was waiting for the Wild goaltender the minute he awoke Wednesday, before the team’s morning skate at Air Canada Centre.
Stalock was scheduled to start in goal Wednesday vs. Toronto. Those plans were upended when the arrival of his second child came earlier than expected, sending Stalock back to the Twin Cities to be with his wife, Felicia. That moved Dubnyk into the net against the Maple Leafs, with Niklas Svedberg called up from the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa as backup.
The early expansion of the Stalock family could mean Dubnyk will start both games of a back-to-back set that ends Thursday in Montreal. It didn’t bother Dubnyk.
“It doesn’t feel weird at all,” Dubnyk said. “It would be different if I had woke up from a nap this afternoon and things had changed.
“But you wake up in the morning, and you do the same thing regardless of whether you’re playing or not. Before you even head downstairs, you’re back into the routine. It wasn’t really much of a knuckleball preparing for the game.”
The last-minute switch reminded Dubnyk of the birth of his second child, Parker, in December 2015. Parker’s due date fell during a three-game road trip. In the game before the trip began, Dubnyk — who had never missed a game because of injury — hurt his groin and had to stay home. Parker was born two days into the trip.
Stalock’s unexpected absence showed that things don’t always work out so neatly — even though Dubnyk has a plan for his third child, with wife Jenn due to give birth to another son in January.
“He’s scheduled for the bye week,” Dubnyk said. “We’ll see if he cooperates.”
Happy homecoming …
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, a Toronto native, said he had “a full dance card” when the Wild hit town Tuesday. Among his plans: a reunion of the Toronto Marlboros, where he played for three seasons in the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) from 1972-75.
The Marlies are a local institution, with a history dating to 1942. Boudreau was part of the team that won the OHA championship in 1973, and he was delighted to revisit that time with old friends and teammates.
“It was great,” he said. “I was telling our players, it’s amazing; even if you don’t see guys for 40 years, what championship teams do is they create a bond that can never be broken. Nothing seems to be different except the way we look.”
Boudreau also visited with his mother, Theresa. He joked Tuesday that she probably would criticize the Wild’s play — and, perhaps, his coaching — though she surprised him.
“She knew I wasn’t feeling good, so she laid low,” he said.
… and happy birthday
Another blast from Boudreau’s past came up during the trip. Maple Leafs legend Johnny Bower, a goaltender who played in Toronto from 1958-70 and won two Vezina Trophies, turned 92 years old Wednesday.
There was some confusion about Bower’s age; Toronto reporters thought he was 93, but hockeydb.com lists his birth date as Nov. 8, 1925. Boudreau joked that time seems to be standing still for Bower anyway. “You know, he’s been 93 for about 22 years,” the coach said.
Bower was a fixture around Toronto hockey when Boudreau played in the Maple Leafs organization from 1976-83. “He was around all the time,” Boudreau said. “He worked with me at my hockey school for 10 years.
“He’s just going to keep going. He’s a tremendous man.”
• The Wild scratched defenseman Mike Reilly, who had played the past seven games.
• The Maple Leafs paid tribute to Roy Halladay, the former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher who died Tuesday in a plane crash, with a pregame video salute and a moment of silence.