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Wild return from bye week recharged, refreshed and, they hope, desperate

After a week off, the Wild will play the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild left wing Marcus Foligno, left, congratulates Minnesota Wild center Frederick Gaudreau on scoring the game-winning goal Jan. 28, 2023, during the shoot out at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

TEMPE, Ariz. — It made perfect sense that the Minnesota Wild, a team that rarely practices, spent roughly an hour skating on Sunday afternoon.

After most of their players spent the bye week abroad, the Wild needed to get back to work before playing the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz.

“Obviously, they are fresh,” coach Dean Evason said with a smile. “They look more tan than they were when they left.”

It wasn’t too difficult to discern which players spent time in Cabo San Lucas over the break. While star winger Kirill Kaprizov participated in All-Star Weekend in Sunrise, Fla., about a dozen of his teammates traveled to the resort town in Mexico to escape the frigid weather back home.

Asked how the trip came about, Brandon Duhaime noted how Matt Dumba played the role of logistics coordinator.

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“He said, ‘We’re going to Cabo,’ ” Brandon Duhaime said with a laugh. “I said, ‘Alright.’ ”

The older players opted for a swanky resort. The younger players settled on less expensive, all inclusive accommodations. Everyone had a great time together.

“It says a lot about the organization that we get a week off and still want to spend it with the guys we come to work with every day,” Jake Middleton said. “It’s pretty special to have that type of connection.”

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Asked for some good stories, Middleton joked that he’s been sworn to secrecy, adding, “Our wives were there, too, so they watched over us.”

There were various pictures that circulated on social media with players posting in real time. None more hilarious than Duhaime, Connor Dewar and Matt Boldy posing with their hair braided. ”

“Someone came up to us with a little sign asking if we want our hair like that, and we said, ‘Sure,’ ” Duhaime said. “It was like 20 bucks.”

How did the picture get out?

“My girlfriend,” Duhaime said. “I gave her a hard time about posting that. She was messing around and posted it on her story. It blew up pretty quick.”

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Now it’s back to work. That was the message ahead of the lengthy practice on Sunday afternoon.

“We had a little meeting there on the ice about getting our heads right,” Marcus Foligno said. “We understand that we had our fun, we had our break, we had our relaxation, and it’s time to get going now. We need to wake up tomorrow mentally checked and ready to go.”

As of Sunday night, the Wild (27-17-4, 58 points) sat in third place in the Central Division with the Colorado Avalanche (27-18-3, 57 points) very close behind. That’s reason enough to bring desperation to their game coming out of the bye week.

“We don’t have to look any further than the standings,” Evason said. “We have to have desperation every single night. It’s great that we had a break. It’s wonderful to recharge. Now we have to use that recharge in the right way.”

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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