Connect with us


Rookie Dazzles in Wild Debut

Minnesota fans finally given a reason for September scoreboard watching.

Xcel Energy Center’s new scoreboard enhanced the fan experience in the Wild’s 4-3 preseason win over Winnipeg on Saturday night in St. Paul. (MHM Photo / Jeff Wegge)

Minnesota fans finally given a reason for September scoreboard watching.

SAINT PAUL— The Minnesota Wild’s biggest new addition made a sparkling first impression in the team’s preseason home opener on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center. The newcomer accounted for every goal of the game, was brilliant from start to finish and led everyone in TOI (time OVER ice) in the Wild’s 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

This rookie’s performance may have even taken some of the sting out of the disappointment of seeing Thomas Vanek’s home debut delayed until Monday due to lingering soreness from Thursday’s loss in Pittsburgh. Scoreboard watching in the NHL is typically reserved for late March and early April but there was no shortage of it on a warm late-September Saturday evening in St. Paul.

Fans, media and even Wild coach Mike Yeo came away thoroughly impressed with Xcel Energy Center’s new mammoth high-definition scoreboard stretching from blue line to blue line high above the neutral zone. Its four massive video screens dwarf its predecessor in overall size (2,303 sq. ft to 576 sq. ft) and crushes it in clarity.

For some, it even exceeded expectations.

“I thought the picture was really nice and the shots and the score are easy to read,” said Wild fan Bennett King, 13, of White Bear Lake. “I was expecting it to be a little smaller but I like it big.”

The arena’s new video centerpiece, designed to complement its North Woods theme, is just one of a myriad of technological upgrades inside and out of Xcel Energy Center. The building’s outdoor marquees and ribbon displays that encircle the interior arena fascia are included, as is an enormous new main-concourse display on the wall near Section 104. The 430 ft. HD screen replaces the original projection screen installed in 2000.

Seth Wigley and his wife Leah, first-year season ticket holders from Eagan, confessed to sometimes catching themselves checking out the action on the screen rather than the ice. Seth used adjectives like awesome, huge and perfect to describe it and complimented the team on the upgrades.

“They just keep doing little things to make it better every year,” Wigley said.

In addition, the four elevated platforms in the arena’s upper corners have been fitted with video display capability. Those elements, however, were not in use during Saturday’s game and it’s assumed their use is being reserved for opening night of the regular season home schedule on Oct. 9 when the Wild host the Colorado Avalanche.

Nino Niederreiter and Michael Keranen celebrate el Nino’s second-period goal on the first of two Keranen assists on the night. (Poor quality photo / Brian Halverson)

Nino Niederreiter and Michael Keranen celebrate el Nino’s second-period goal on the first of two Keranen assists on the night. (Poor quality photo / Brian Halverson)

Second-year season ticket holder Teri Chaffee of Big Lake says she likes the scoreboard’s “easy visibility.”

“Plus, Nino Niederreiter is my favorite so he looks pretty good on the big jumbo screen,” she added.

Daktronics of Brookings, S.D. and Redwood Falls, Minn., the manufacturer of the original scoreboard and the arena’s other LED displays, installed the new elements which were largely manufactured in Minnesota.

Yeo drew laughter from the media when asked during his post-game press conference if he, too, snuck in a few peeks at the new scoreboard.

“I always stare at the scoreboard after the other team scores,” Yeo said. “Bit of a clearer picture on the mistakes that we made.”

Minnesota Hockey Magazine Executive Editor Brian Halverson is a former member of the Minnesota Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. His work has been published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Miami Herald, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Hartford Courant, Dallas Morning News and

Click to comment

2024 State Tourney Guide Issue

Click on the cover to view!

2024 Hockey Day MN Recap Issue

Click on the cover to view!

Sign Up Here to Receive Our Free E-edition!


More in NHL

  • Eye On The Future

    Marc-Andre Fleury's return puts future Hall of Fame goalie in position to develop Jesper...

  • Wallstedt Gets A Boost

    Three months after a rough NHL debut, Wallstedt gets a second chance with the...

  • Sweet For Shaw

    Wild forward Mason Shaw scored his first goal in more than a year.

  • Wild Questions

    Zulgad: The Minnesota Wild will enter the offseason with many questions.

  • Wild Trades

    Wild GM eliminated his chance to make impact moves at deadline.

  • Back In The Mix

    Wild's playoff run ultimately might be counterproductive.