WITOSKY NOTEBOOK: ODDS AND ENDS FROM OPENING WEEKENDOct 10, 2019
By Tom Witosky
When Gerry Mayhew arrived at Wells Fargo Arena for the first time this season, he got quite a surprise.
“It was a surprise. I mean, I definitely didn't think they would put my picture up there,” Mayhew said of the enormous Iowa Wild banners hanging on the outside walls of the arena advertising the Wild’s 2019-20 season. “I knew it was there because a friend had sent it to me on Snapchat, but it was still a surprise.”
The 26-year-old Wyandotte, MI native earned his spot on the banner last season by leading Iowa in goal scoring (27) and ranking second in goals scored in the Calder Cup playoffs (9). Defenseman Carson Soucy, who is now with Minnesota, was on the banner last season.
“Soucy got the poster and he put it up in his rink,” Mayhew said. “I am sure I will try to get it and take it home.”
Mayhew, who signed a two-way NHL contract with Minnesota during the Calder Cup Playoffs, said he understands with his success, more will be expected of him.
“I really don't want to change anything I've done,” Mayhew said. “You know, I've been playing hockey for a while so I know I know what to do and what comes from the hard work that it takes.”
Mitch “Moose” McLain may be a pro hockey player, but he showed a move Sunday that indicated he had spent time wrestling.
Tangled up with Milwaukee Admiral Jarred Tinordi, Moose used a hip move to go from beneath Tinordi to on top of him and had him pinned briefly to the ice.
Afterward, McLain, who centered a strong fourth line for Iowa last weekend, acknowledged he had gotten some wrestling experience during the offseason.
“I wouldn't say I'm a wrestler, but back in my gym back home, it's a wrestling gym,” McLain said. “We had some D-1 wrestlers who worked with us and every Wednesday we had to do their workouts.”
Last weekend was a busy one for Iowa Wild General Manager Tom Kurvers and he couldn’t have been happier.
Between spending much of the week with the Wild that included attending both home games, Kurvers took a quick trip Saturday to the University of Kansas where one of his daughters is a freshman.
“We were going to go to the football game, but it rained so we decided to skip it,” Kurvers said.
But the real message in the Kurvers weekend jaunts was the fact he received great news in his battle with lung cancer. Doctors diagnosed Kurvers with cancer last year just a few months after he took the job of assistant general manager of the Minnesota Wild and took the reins of general manager for the Iowa Wild.
This summer, he got the news a special medication designed to combat non-small cell cancer had worked extraordinarily well.
“I got real good news in August on scans that I had a great response to the medication,” the 1983-84 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner said. “And I feel for the first time since January a level of normal. There's more certainty about how we're dealing with my illness and a real strong positive outlook with that.”
Kurvers said he actually began to feel a return to normalcy as Iowa entered the Calder Cup Playoffs and it improved throughout the summer. Now, he expects to spend a substantial amount of time focused on Iowa this season and getting the team further into the playoffs.
“It was a modest amount of success for us because it was the first time.,” he said. “It felt really good, but not good enough. So the guys return with an aim for more and a recognition of what it takes to get to that level. But more importantly, for the franchise, there's some pretty good awareness in town here.”
The Wild’s two wins last weekend got a good review from Head Coach Tim Army after examining game films this week.
“We played with a lot of pace, we were persistent, and we pressed them okay. There were some areas where the execution was very good.
“We also moved the puck really well particularly on the counter-attack, which was very quick for the most part,” Army said. “We transitioned quickly off loose pucks as well.”
At the same time, Army noted improvement is needed on defensive tracking of players as well as exiting the puck out of the defensive zone. He said both goals given up to Milwaukee were the result of tracking mistakes and that too many turnovers occurred at times because of difficult moving the puck out of the defensive zone.
“We want to clean up our tracking a little bit and our exits. Those are two areas that in both games, we gave up chances,” Army said. “But I am sure we will find other places to adjust as the season goes on. That is what this is all about.”
-The Wild ranked third in AHL attendance among teams playing two home games on opening weekend. The club drew 13,862 combined on a Friday night and Sunday afternoon for an average of 6,931.
-Colton Beck on playing for the Iowa Wild: “If I’m not playing in the NHL, the only place I want to play is here in Iowa.”