The 63rd All-Star Game in Tampa, Florida has come and gone. This means all-time All-Stars for each hockey team are solidified until the following season. The Minnesota Wild remain a fairly young team; their history of All-Star selections is rather slim but these players have meant a great deal to the State of Hockey.
53rd All-Star Game – Sunrise, Florida
The 2002-03 season allowed for the first All-Star selection in Wild history. Marian Gaborik was chosen for the honor. During the campaign he notched 30 goals and 35 assists. Gaborik was Minnesota’s first All-Star-caliber player from the moment he arrived, but the defensive mindset of coach Jacques Lemaire always held the offensively dominating skater back. This makes his tally of 65 points all the more impressive. Not only did Minnesota earn its first All-Star, it also clinched its first playoff berth and advanced to the Western Conference Final.
Prior to the game being played, Gaborik won the skills competition for fastest skater, recording a time of 14.713 seconds. He was a help in getting the Western Conference All-Stars the win, 6-5. He scored in the first period off assists from Mathieu Schneider and Sergei Fedorov. Gabby followed his goal with a pair of assists from scorers, Ed Jovanovski and Al MacInnis.
54th All-Star Game – St. Paul, Minnesota
The Wild hosted their first ever All-Star game at the Xcel Energy Center during the 2003-04 campaign. As a child, I was fortunate enough to attend the event. The Stanley Cup was out for display, tons of activities, card shops, and the young stars competition made for an exciting event. St. Paul even put together an ice castle across the street from the Xcel Energy Center. For the first time, the Wild had two representatives at the contest.
Selected were defenseman Filip Kuba and goaltender Dwayne Roloson. This marked the first players at their positions in Wild history to make the game. Neither of the players offered much on the stat sheet during the 6-4 Eastern Conference victory. Kuba had five goals and 19 assists during the campaign. Roloson put up very respectable numbers, with a .933 save percentage (SV%), 1.88 goals-against average (GAA), and five shutouts. The Western Conference uniforms were certainly some inspiration for the future Reebok green alternate jerseys that the Wild wore with the script crest on the front of the jersey. The Eastern Conference’s jerseys were not white, but the Minnesota wheat color that is now a mainstay in the team’s color pallet.
55th All-Star Game – Dallas, Texas
After a two-year hiatus following the lockout and winter Olympic games, the 2006-07 season brought the 55th All-Star Game. It was the first game hosted by the Stars since 1972, when they were known as the Minnesota North Stars. The Wild’s lone representative at the contest was Brian Rolston, who was forced to play at the event hosted by the team that was stolen from Minnesota. At the time he was at the ripe age of 33 and was in the second year of his three-year stint with the club. The Wild’s All-Star player helped the team achieve its second playoff berth during the campaign as well.
Rolston put up 31 goals and 33 assists on the campaign, becoming one of Minnesota’s best players in the process. The Western All-Stars won in a scoring contest, 12-9. The second period proved lucrative for the Wild’ representative as he scored two goals and tallied an assist from a Yanic Perreault goal.
56th All-Star Game – Atlanta, Georgia
This was the only All-Star Game to be played in Atlanta before the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg becoming the Jets. The 2007-08 All-Star Game featured Minnesota’s first multi All-Star player, Marian Gaborik. The campaign saw Gaborik tally single-season team records that hold to this day in both goals (42) and points (83.) The playoff berth earned that year was the last time Gaborik would smell the playoffs while wearing a Wild sweater, as he would depart in two seasons.
The Eastern Conference was able to win the game with a final score of 8-7. Gaborik did tally a single goal in the third period, making sure that Minnesota was included on the stat sheet.
57th All-Star Game – Montreal, Quebec
This contest marked the first time a Wild player was selected to play in an All-Star Game held outside of the United States. The game was played during the 2008-09 campaign. Niklas Backstrom became just the second goaltender to be honored as an all-star goalie in Wild history and did it at 30-years-old in his third season. Backstrom posted 37 wins, a .923 SV%, 2.33 GAA, and eight shutouts. Both the wins and shutouts were career highs. He was not of much help to the Western All-Stars as they lost 12-11, although All-Star games are all about scoring so Backstrom is not to blame.
58th All-Star Game – Raleigh, North Carolina
The All-Star game was held during the 2010-11 season, due to the previous seasons All-Star Game to be canceled due to the Winter Olympic Games. Brent Burns and Martin Havlat were selected to represent the Wild for the All-Star festivities. Burns became just the second defenseman to make it in franchise history while Havlat became the third forward to make the roster. Burns, playing in his final season for Minnesota, secured 17 goals and 29 assists. Havlat, also in his final season for the Wild, finished strongly with 22 goals and 40 assists.
Havlat participated and lost to Daniel Sedin in the McDonald’s NHL Accuracy Shooting. Burns also participated in the XM NHL Hardest Shot, claiming victory over David Backes, although Zdeno Chara would eventually win the competition. Havlat finished the game with three assists on goals from Loui Eriksson, Jonathan Toews, and Anze Kopitar. Burns tallied a single assist on a Martin St. Louis goal. Both players helped Team Lidstrom defeat Team Staal, in the first year where the All-Star Game was formatted as a fantasy draft, where two captains select their rosters.
59th All-Star Game – Ottawa, Ontario
Mikko Koivu was selected to his first All-Star Game during the 2011-12 season. He opted not to play while he dealt with a shoulder injury and has yet to secure another spot in the game to this day. Koivu had a very underwhelming and undeserving season, playing in only 55 games and managing 12 goals and 32 assists. Ironically, former Wild player Marian Gaborik was awarded MVP honors at the game for finishing with three goals and an assist in a 12-9 Team Chara Victory, defeating Team Alfredsson.
60th All-Star Game – Columbus, Ohio
The game took place during the 2014-15 season. The two previous All-Star Games were canceled again due to a lockout and Winter Olympic participation. Selected to play was the third Wild defenseman to achieve the honor, Ryan Suter. He finished the season with only two goals along with 36 assists.
With Suter making the All-Star team it was guaranteed that one of Minnesota’s two $98 million investments would make the first All-Star Game since their signing. Suter helped capture the victory for Team Toews in a 17-12 victory over Team Foligno. Collectively, he tallied one goal and one assist during the contest.
61st All-Star Game – Nashville, Tennessee
The 61st All-Star Game was held during the 2015-16 NHL season. Devan Dubnyk, the lone player selected from the Wild, became their third goalie to earn the nod. Dubnyk posted respectable numbers during the season, obtaining 32 wins, a .917 SV%, 2.33 GAA, and five shutouts.
This All-Star Game was the first to feature four teams representing each division to form a tournament. Furthermore, instead of 5-on-5 hockey, it became 3-on-3. In Nashville, the week prior to the All-Star game, outside of the arena the city had put up an outdoor skating rink that was a popular activity. All the banners downtown were interesting and the host city seemed well prepared. However, the Central Division lost to the Pacific Division 9-6 in the opening round.
62nd All-Star Game – Los Angeles, California
Held during the 2016-17 season, the Wild had a franchise record three All-Star selections. Amidst one of the team’s most successful seasons, Bruce Boudreau was selected to coach the Central All-Star team, the first coach to be selected in franchise history. Alongside their coach, Suter and Dubnyk each made their second All-Star appearances in a Wild sweater. They joined Gaborik as the only Wild players to be selected more than once in their career.
Dubnyk improved from his previous All-Star season with 40 wins, a .923 SV%, 2.25 GAA, and five shutouts. Suter set career highs in goals (nine) and plus/minus (plus-34) to pair with his 31 assists. Each player was a worthy selection, although the Central Division was again beaten by the Pacific in the opening round, 10-3.
63rd All-Star Game – Tampa, Florida
This game was played during the current 2017-18 season. With the All-Star Game held in Florida again, it is the first state to host Wild All-Stars more than one time. The Central All-Stars again lost, this time 5-2 in the opening round, bringing their overall record to a putrid 0-3. Eric Staal participated in two of the All-Star skills competition events. In the Dunkin’ Donuts NHL Passing Challenge, he finished fifth with a time of 54.679. In the Geico NHL Save Streak, Staal tallied a goal.
Eric Staal was the lone Wild player selected, becoming just the fifth forward in franchise history to earn the honor, and the first since Koivu was selected six years earlier. The last Minnesota forward to suit up for the all-star game had been Martin Havlat, with his appearance coming seven years prior. Staal, on the season, has 22 goals and 24 assists to this point.
Minnesota Wild All-Star Roster
To recap, the Wild have had one single coach chosen for the game in Bruce Boudreau. Three goaltenders have been selected, Devan Dubnyk (twice), Dwayne Roloson, and Niklas Backstrom. Three defensemen have been selected, Ryan Suter (twice), Filip Kuba, and Brent Burns. A total of five forwards have had the honor to represent Minnesota, Marian Gaborik (twice), Brian Rolston, Martin Havlat, Mikko Koivu, and Eric Staal.
The Wild have always been a team with good goaltending, something few teams are blessed with over nearly two decades. The Wild have usually remained a defense-first team, so only three defensive players selected is shocking. All five forwards the Wild have sent have been deserving players. Only Gaborik and Koivu have played on the team for more than three seasons, which may directly contribute to the lack of offense throughout the franchise’s history.