Over a month has passed since the NHL Trade Deadline, and the new members of the Minnesota Wild have had time to adjust and get acquainted with the team. The organization added four players, Tyson Jost, Nicolas Deslauriers, Jacob Middleton, and of course, the biggest name of them all, Marc-André Fleury. Each player has brought a unique personality to a somewhat quiet locker room and quickly won the hearts of Wild fans and teammates alike.
Hockey players haven’t been known to showcase their personalities, but that’s changed in the last five or so years. One Wild veteran, in particular, has become famous for his quotes this season, alternate captain Marcus Foligno.
Foligno Welcomes New Teammate
Foligno has made it a habit to welcome new teammates, the newest being Deslauriers, who received a well-earned ribbing after his first game with the Wild. He tallied his first goal in a Wild jersey, and during the postgame press conference, Foligno asked, “Is it true you tried to go top shelf, but it went five-hole instead?”
Best/gutsiest question of the press conferences last night came from Marcus Foligno to Nic Deslauriers: “Is it true you tried to go top shelf but it went five-hole instead?”— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) March 22, 2022
Foligno brings leadership to the team, and he sees how the locker room meshes. When asked about Deslauriers in the postgame press conference following his first game, Foligno couldn’t say enough about him: “That’s what you need, you need guys that feel comfortable already and brings guys in with him, and we want a close room so the closer, the better.” While Foligno has been one of the more vocal guys this season, especially since he received the “A” on his jersey, he may have some competition for the best quote if these new players stay on a roll and as the team grows closer heading into the playoffs.
Wild’s Tough Guy: Nicolas Deslauriers
Deslauriers is known for his physical presence; he’s ranked in the top 10 in hits in the NHL. He earned immediate fan approval when he dragged Vegas Golden Knights forward William Karlsson out of the crease by his jersey after he fell near Wild goaltender Cam Talbot. In his first post-practice press conference, he was asked about what kind of skill set he’ll bring to the lineup. He replied with a very simple answer, “What skillset?”
In that same press conference, he explained that he wanted to help out his teammates when it comes to physicality, and he added, “Me and Moose (Foligno) chuckle all the time. Every time I fight, or he fights, we text each other. But you know I want to be that guy doing it, and I don’t want him (Foligno) to be – how many goals does he have, 19?” – I want him to be on the ice, I don’t want him to be five minutes in the box. I’ll do the five minutes.” He’s had many quotable moments already, and there will be more. He’s the type of player who has an infectious happy-go-lucky attitude.
After his first interview as a member of the Wild, it was clear he would be a player that everyone wants to interview. He gives quote after quote and loves to show his personality. He’s only under contract with the Wild but, hopefully, management can find a way to keep him, because he’s a great personality to have around.
Wild’s Jacob “Stache” Middleton
Chances are fans know Middleton by his glorious mustache that strongly resembles that of former Wild and fan-favorite Cal Clutterbuck. Similar to Deslauriers, Middleton brings a strong physical game and a simplicity to the game of knowing what needs to be done. He also loves to show his personality, his toothless smile, and he’s a quote machine.
In one of his first post-practice interviews, he was cracking jokes, and when asked about the type of game he brings, he didn’t hesitate to talk about his blocked shots and defensive skills. “I’m a pretty simple guy,” he said. “It’s what kind of helped me get my pro career started, and it’s what’s kept me around. So, if I can do those things night in and night out and take a load off some of the other more skilled guys, that’s what I hope to bring to the table, anyways.”
A little later in that press conference, he was asked how he’s gotten this far in his career. Again, he added a joke. “Passion probably is about the only thing,” he said. “I love playing hockey, and I literally have nothing else going on, so showing up at the rink every morning is pretty good for me.” He also mentioned his fabulous mustache: “With losing four teeth in the past couple years, it kind of takes away from that. The fuzzy upper lip, no one sees that I’m missing my top four teeth.”
To be honest, his quotes alone could fill this article, but wrapping up his section has to be done with what he thinks of playing in Minnesota. “Trade deadline morning when you wake up and get a phone call at 8:30, you’re not sure the grass is always greener or how things are going to work out, and I’ve called my parents every 48 hours here, saying this is some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey. So, I couldn’t be happier.” If you haven’t had the chance to listen to Middleton’s interviews, check them out, you won’t be disappointed, especially if you are a Wild fan.
Wild’s Tyson Jost
Jost was the first to join the Wild about a week before the deadline, and he’s an interesting character as well. In his first appearance with the Wild media, he was asked about his color-blindness and how it affects him. “I guess if I have any turnovers, I’ll just blame it on the color-blindness. But no, it’s not bad. It’s something that’s kind of it’s fun. I get a lot of jokes about it and what not, and runs in our family, so it’s every second generation. My grandpa’s colorblind. I guess my grandkids will be color-blind too. It’s not just red and green either. It’s blues, purples it’s whatever.”
He was asked in that same interview who he knows best on the Wild, who happened to be his linemate that night, Brandon Duhaime. “I’d say the guy I probably know the most is Brandon Duhaime,” Jost said. “We played together at Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna when we were like 13 or 14 years old, so we actually lived in the same apartment building. He was right upstairs from me, so me and him hung out a ton. We’re creating havoc in the apartment and playing mini-sticks in the hallway and all that stuff. So I’d say ‘Du’ is the guy I know the most.”
Fleury was clearly the most anticipated arrival for Wild fans, and he was quick to make an impression. After a win at home, fans threw him a bouquet of flowers in honor of his nickname, Flower. He was asked during the postgame press conference after his first win if that’s ever happened before, and his answer was surprising. “Oh boy,” he said. “I don’t want to offend anybody, but I don’t think it happened before, felt like a figure skater. Right after their show, they always get flowers, eh? It was nice, you know, for the first game to win at home. It was awesome.”
Goaltenders are known for their personalized pads, especially their helmets, and Fleury is no stranger to that. He had been waiting on his new gear, and he wore his new helmet for their win over the Los Angeles Kings. He was asked about its significance after the game. “It’s, I guess, a Wild beast with its mouth open. I just always loved Andy Moog back in the day with the Bruins. So it’s something a little similar and the ‘W’ for the Wild on the side and got some flowers in the background of it.”
He may not be a quote master like some of his teammates, but he always has a smile on his face and gives credit where it’s due. In nearly every postgame interview he’s done with Wild media so far, he’s talked about how well the guys play in front of him, and how much easier it makes his job. He recently tallied an assist on a goal scored by Frederick Gaudreau against the Dallas Stars that ended up being the overtime winner. When asked how he knew to pass it, he had a short but sweet answer: “I guess it was the French sense. Saw him (Gaudreau) out there, but I just tried to go around their forecheckers. They were coming in pretty hard, but Freddy made an awesome play to get that goal.”
Wild Have Personality
The Wild have always had unique players, but this season seems different. The team is more united and tight-knit compared to past years. They all appear to mesh well together, and the new players have fit right in. There were no bumps or disagreements like sometimes happens.
It’s been fun to watch these players blend together and the quotes that have been said. As they head down the road to the postseason, we’ll see what else the newcomers have to say and if they can continue to offer very entertaining quotes. Stay tuned to see what else the Wild has in store that fits their recent motto: “Not Weird. Wild.”
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.