Van carrying Wild’s equipment catches fire
OTTAWA (AP) — Minnesota Wild defenseman Nick Schultz put on shoulder pads he bought for $200 at a local store. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom wore a catching glove with burn marks across it and backup Josh Harding had an old facemask with the wrong number.
A day after a small fire destroyed most of their equipment, the Wild were back at work Saturday for a pregame skate. They played the Ottawa Senators at night.
No one was hurt in the fire, which broke out Friday in the back of a van carrying the team’s gear after an afternoon practice. No cause has been determined.
“It’s just unbelievable,” forward Andrew Brunette said, his teammates busy cutting and taping new sticks.
“Your first thought is to make sure everybody was OK, obviously, but I never thought it was as serious as it was. To lose the amount of equipment we did, especially our goalies, it’s a little bit of an obstacle here to overcome,” he said.
Brunette was one of nine players fortunate to have recovered all of their equipment intact.
“My stuff’s OK. I was one of the lucky ones,” he said, pointing to the adjacent locker of teammate Antti Miettinen. “Guys like Antti beside me lost everything. … Our goalies, to have new gear and wearing stuff they’re not used to, it’s a pretty big deal.”
That made for a long night for head equipment manager Tony Dacosta and his staff as they tried to scramble. The team dispatched assistant equipment manager Brent Proulx back to Minnesota to retrieve replacement gear, which arrived on a charter flight not long before the team’s pregame skate.
Schultz and his teammates tried to remain upbeat.
“I don’t think (Dacosta) wants to pay the $200 for the shoulder pads, but hopefully he’ll reimburse me,” he said.
The Wild had won 10 of 13 going into Saturday night’s game. They play two more games before Christmas Day, so players won’t get much time to adapt to their new equipment.
“The skates are going to be hard,” forward Martin Havlat said. “Just to get used to them, some guys need a few days, some guys need three or four weeks. It’s going to be an interesting game tonight.”