Wild players added extra layers to their usual practice ensemble Sunday, as the team took its session outside to the Recreation Outdoor Center in St. Louis Park.
“It was a little bit chillier than I think we all expected,” center Matt Cullen said. “But it was fun. We all enjoyed it.”
Fans lined the boards and filled the stands, watching as coach Bruce Boudreau organized drills in an upbeat practice on the heels of a solid 3-0 win Saturday over the Blackhawks. Winger Zach Parise was the only one missing; his wife Alisha, who gave birth to the couple’s third child and second son Thursday, was getting released from the hospital.
After the skate, players flipped pucks over the glass and signed autographs.
“That’s why we’re here,” defenseman Matt Dumba said.
Dumba looked to be the most bundled up, hiding most of his face in a hoodie. Assistant coach John Anderson appeared the bravest of the bunch, dressing like he would for a normal, indoors practice. But most wore a hat over their helmets or a hoodie underneath.
Winger Nino Niederreiter said it was the coldest he’s ever skated outside.
“I feel like the faster you went on the ice, the colder it gets,” he said. “So I tried to pace myself.”
Not only was this an opportunity to break from the team’s regular routine, but it reminded many with the Wild of when they were kids skating on an outdoor rink or pond.
“When we were 6 years old and 7 years old, there was no indoor rinks,” Boudreau said. “We used to have to play outdoors all the time. When you get off, your dad would be rubbing your feet till the blood came back in t hem. And you’d be over the heat ventilator and sitting out there for half an hour. That was cold. This is a piece of cake, quite frankly.”