Monday, June 18, 2012

Wild Plans For Duluth Exhibition Dropped Because of Lockout Concerns

The Minnesota Wild visited Duluth last fall for two training camp practices and team-building time. You might remember that goalie Josh Harding was injured during one of the team-building exercises, forcing Houston Aeros GM Jim Mill to don the goalie pads for the first practice at Amsoil Arena, as Aeros goalie Matt Hackett couldn't get to Duluth in time for it.

At the time, nothing but nice things could be heard from players and staff about their stay in northern Minnesota. They were very complimentary of everything, including the new facility they got to practice in.

It led to people asking if there was a future for the Wild in Duluth that could include a preseason game down the line. After all, the team didn't hold any public events while they visited in October. Maybe next time, right?

Well, "next time" was supposed to be "this fall." According to a source with knowledge of the plans, the Wild were scheduled to visit Amsoil Arena for one of their home preseason games in the fall of 2012. However, those plans were changed because of uncertainty regarding the possible NHL lockout.

The league's collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15. The Wild announced their preseason schedule Monday, and that is slated to start ten days later. With such a small lag time between the expiration of the deal and the start of the preseason, the smartest of smart money is on the preseason not starting on time because of a lockout.

Per the source, plans were underway for the game, but those plans were derailed because of Wild management's concerns about the CBA and uncertainty associated with negotiations. Reading between the lines, it's clear that no one would have wanted a situation where tickets were sold and local residents excited over a game that had little chance of happening in the first place.

The Wild are still scheduled to visit Duluth June 25 as part of the annual Wells Fargo Wild Road Tour. Players Nate Prosser and Jason Zucker will be joined by radio broadcasters Bob Kurtz and Tom Reid for the event, which starts at 11:30am at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.

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