Jason Zucker and his sleep schedule has been meme-ed.
No matter that the Wild winger has the chance to equal or even break the NHL record for consecutive goals Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center against the Philadelphia Flyers. The real story here is if the new dad, whose son was born Oct. 27, is catching enough Zzzs.
“I was hearing from even our friends and family, everyone was asking me, ‘Well, is Jason sleeping?’ ” said Carly Zucker, Jason’s wife and mom to 2-week-old Hendrix. “And I’m like, ‘Um, what about, A, the baby and, B, me?’ ”
Carly Zucker, a radio and television personality, made a bit out of the cliché question, joking around on KFAN’s “The Power Trip” radio show a week ago saying she was going to record her husband sleeping a full eight hours in the guest bedroom while she took care of the newborn.
Well, the first game after that is when Zucker started his goal streak that now stands at six, one shy of the league record from Cy Denneny with Ottawa in 1921 and Brian Noonan with Chicago in 1991.
“Poor Jason. After everything, he’s like, ‘What did you do now? I’m afraid to open my Twitter and see what it is,” Carly Zucker said. “I thought it would be funny to post something about the sleep, and then it’s just been hilarious now that he’s scored so many.”
Week’s top star
Zucker earned the league’s first star of the week Monday for the first time in his career after having a hand in the Wild’s past seven goals, his six scores plus an assist, and tallying at least a point in each of the Wild’s past four games from the most recent road trip. At Montreal on Thursday, he nabbed his first NHL hat trick, a third-period natural one at that. He now leads the team in goals (nine), points (14), power-play goals (three) and multi-point games (five) as well as tying for first with 46 shots in 16 games.
All that rest is clearly doing wonders for him.
“I’ve been getting plenty of sleep, as I’m sure everyone is going to ask at some point,” Zucker said Monday. “In all seriousness, [Carly has] been amazing with it. So it’s been great to have her home holding down the fort.”
And as far as that record in reach, Zucker said it’s “the least” of his worries, as he’s more focused on beating Philadelphia. Carly Zucker said while her husband is always the first to call her after a game and brag about Devan Dubnyk’s shutout or Matt Dumba’s great defensive play, she has to remind him to reflect on his big moments, too.
“I said, ‘I hope you took a moment after the hat trick to just be like, that was really great,’ and reflect on it and be excited about it,” Carly Zucker said. ‘And he’ll be like, ‘Oh, yeah, thanks.’ And I’m like, ‘You had your first hat trick in the NHL. That’s an amazing accomplishment.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, well, you know, the next game.’ ”
But there’s another reason beyond the history books and the win column that should motivate Zucker to maintain his hot streak.
The Zuckers started a season-long #Give16 campaign in memory of Tucker Helstrom, who died at age 9 in July 2016 after a nine-month battle with bone cancer. The couple formed a bond with the little boy during his treatment and were inspired to set up the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, where patients and families can produce their own shows and also feel the experience of attending a professional hockey game.
The campaign, which has goals of $500,000 to build and another $100,000 to fund programming, started with big donations from the Zuckers and some corporate partners. The pair also encouraged fan involvement to donate online in any increment of 16, Zucker’s number. The Zuckers have also auctioned off game-used hockey sticks and custom pucks and heard from brands like Love Your Melon and UNRL clothing about creating apparel where a portion of the proceeds go to the campaign.
The campaign already is fewer than $2,000 away from reaching its first online goal of $32,000. But Zucker also made a pledge to contribute $1,600 for every goal he scores this season, meaning in just this past week, he has given nearly $10,000.
“I told Carly her budget’s slowly dwindling because every goal is coming out of her budget, not mine,” Zucker joked. “All the people at the hospital have just been texting me and asking which account they’re going to pull it out of and the whole thing. So it’s been fun.”
And with Tuesday’s game also being the Wild’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, Carly Zucker said she’s planning a big social media push to see how much money fans can raise in one night. And it’s a bit fortuitous that the event is lining up with her husband’s run.
“We could not be more lucky,” she said. “You never know how the season will go. … Jason pledged $1,600 a goal and going into it, you just cross your fingers that he’ll have a goal.
“It couldn’t be better, obviously, because people are excited, and it just gets the fans more excited, and that’s what we need to have them want to be involved.”
But should her husband not score at home Tuesday, from lack of sleep or otherwise, Carly Zucker wants the disclaimer that she’s not to blame.