VANCOUVER – Last week was hectic for the Wild, with the team trading Jason Zucker on the Monday and then firing coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday.
But the upheaval takes on a completely new meaning when looking at it from Alex Galchenyuk’s perspective.
“A lot of things have been happening,” Galchenyuk said. “But I guess it’s just part of what we do and part of life.”
Acquired from the Penguins in the Zucker swap on Feb. 10, Galchenyuk made his team debut the next day — arriving in the Twin Cities that afternoon before reporting for duty at Xcel Energy Center.
Since the following day, a Wednesday, was a scheduled day off for the team, the winger also didn’t get a chance to practice with his new squad before suiting up for his second game Thursday.
By the time he did get in a session, a new coach was in charge.
So the three-day buffer leading into a two-game road trip that started Wednesday wasn’t just an opportunity for interim coach Dean Evason to use a pair of practices to continue to help the team acclimate to the change in leadership.
The lull between games was also key for Galchenyuk to settle in after a chaotic start to his Wild tenure.
“You get familiar with the linemates, teammates, work on chemistry and just learn the system,” he said. “Everything new in life, it takes time to adjust. I think I’m there now, so it’s just go out there and be myself.”
What has stayed the same since Galchenyuk joined the team is his spot in the lineup. He remains on the left side of the second line next to center Luke Kunin and right winger Mats Zuccarello, the position vacated by Zucker when the Wild traded him to Pittsburgh for Galchenyuk, prospect Calen Addison and a first-round pick.
The linemates were pointless in Galchenyuk’s first three games, but that changed Wednesday. Galchenyuk scored his first Wild goal and added the game-winner in the shootout as the Wild beat the Canucks 4-3. Kunin also scored, and Zuccarello had two assists.
Galneychuk recognized the urgency for the line.
“We gotta find a way to obviously contribute to the team better,” Galchenyuk said before the game. “We have good opportunities, and we have been off the sheet for a couple games.
“... We gotta go out there and change that.”
The Wild’s traveling party for its road trip this week is about twice as large as it is normally.
That’s because many of the players brought their dads, an experience the Wild has hosted through the years to share life on the road with the fathers.
Before leaving for Vancouver, the Wild’s guests had a tour of Tria Rink and even sat in on team meetings.
“It was really cool, really cool,” Evason said. “A little nerve-racking at the start. Mike Foligno’s sitting there, too.
“We used to beat up on each other. Sorry, he used to beat up on me.”
General Manager Bill Guerin spoke at a welcome reception in Vancouver, and dinner was at a steakhouse. For the games, the Wild’s entourage is set up in a suite and after practice Thursday in Edmonton, the group will get a tour of the arena.
Not everyone, however, brought his dad.
Ryan Donato invited his brother Nolan, and Kevin Fiala had his grandfather Jan tag along.
Jordan Greenway’s plus-one was his billet host, Virgil Mingas, from the time he played for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Michigan.
“He just had a huge impact on my life,” Greenway said. “He didn’t really know [anything] about hockey but just living with him, just seeing how he goes about his days, you can get a lot of wisdom from that guy.”
Game by game
Devan Dubnyk was back between the pipes Wednesday, his first start since Feb. 9, and made 31 saves in the Wild’s shootout victory.
Goaltender is a position Evason said will continue to be evaluated on a game-by-game basis.
That’s also how Evason is looking at the sixth spot on defense.
The Wild rotated between Greg Pateryn and Brad Hunt for four straight games, but against the Canucks, Hunt made a second consecutive appearance.
“We feel extremely comfortable with both of them, and they’ve been back and forth,” Evason said. “They obviously bring two different dimensions to our hockey club.
“One night we might feel that we need a physical presence and more of a defensive guy. Some nights maybe we feel we need an offensive guy in.”
While the Wild is on the road this week, Boudreau will go to Xcel Energy Center to pack up his belongings.
Saturday, when the Wild was playing the Sharks, Boudreau returned to Tria Rink to grab what he left behind after he was fired there a day earlier.
And although he’s hoping to land an NHL coaching job elsewhere, Boudreau said he and his wife, Crystal, may end up staying in the Twin Cities once he retires.
“The people were so good,” Boudreau said.