Wild's homecoming kings
WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
|Minnesota Wilds' Devin Setoguchi (L) and Dany Heatley celebrate a goal against the Ottawa Senators during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Ottawa October 11, 2011. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)
After Tuesday’s morning skate at the Saddledome, somebody asked Devin Setoguchi about returning to his old haunts.
Not so fast.
For the Minnesota Wild, the next stop on a five-game road-trip is California’s Silicon Valley, where Setoguchi and teammate Dany Heatley each skated for the San Jose Sharks before joining the Wild in separate off-season swaps.
However, Tuesday’s tilt with the Calgary Flames was a bit of homecoming for both guys, too.
“I have about 200 people from Taber coming to the game, so I don’t really care about where I’m going tomorrow,” Setoguchi insisted. “I’ve got a lot of people coming tonight. This is technically my hometown, so the focus is on tonight and just playing a good game in front of my family and friends.”
The same likely goes for Heatley, the homegrown talent and former star for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks, who joked he “didn’t do anything” in San Jose.
In an over-before-you-know-it availability with the media before boarding the team bus, Heatley told reporters he’s feeling at home with the Wild, his fourth NHL team in 10 seasons.
“It’s been good. It’s a great group of guys here, I really like the coaching staff and it’s a great place play,” Heatley said.
It’s no secret that hockey is a hot ticket in Minnesota, although some doubted the Wild organization would be an ideal landing spot for one of the NHL’s most dangerous snipers.
Heatley has averaged more than a point per game in the big leagues, racking up 329 goals and 697 points in 682 appearances with the Wild, the Sharks, the Ottawa Senators and the Atlanta Thrashers. Heading into Tuesday’s date with the Flames at the Saddledome, the 30-year-old winger was tied for Minnesota’s team lead with four goals and eight points in 13 outings.
Setoguchi, who spent the first four seasons of his career in San Jose, also arrived in Calgary with four markers and as many assists so far this season.
The Wild — like the Flames — rank among the NHL’s lowest-scoring squads, but the 24-year-old Setoguchi disputed the suggestion that Minnesota’s defence-first system stifles offensive opportunity.
“You get chances every night to score goals,” he said. “You get chances to make plays, to get points, to help out the team.”
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