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Minnesota columnist believes Wild improved by adding ‘attitude’

Jul 14, 2013, 10:05 PM EDT

keithballardwild Getty Images

If you were to draw up a list of the “easiest” series from the 2013 postseason, Chicago’s five-game stroll against Minnesota would probably finish close to the top. To make matters worse for the Wild, some might say the team took a step back by shedding salary this summer, yet the Pioneer Press’ Tim Powers believes that they improved in a bigger picture way.

More specifically, he thinks that the Wild added some edge and attitude via Matt Cooke and Keith Ballard.

Enter Ballard and Cooke. With luck, they’ll growl and prod and, as a result, motivate. Not when things are going well. Not when the Wild have put together a nice streak. But when things are headed south. Because no team can turn a couple of bad bounces into a four-game losing streak as quickly as the mentally fragile Wild.

(Now imagine a low-budget promo video of Cooke and Ballard dramatically removing their sunglasses.)

One can easily question this concept – especially since hit machine Cal Clutterbuck is out of town – but the two players do bring some snarl to the table.

We all know the story Cooke, as the 34-year-old’s past is so checkered that the common refrain is that he’s a changed man. (Perhaps there’s a small group of Wild fans who want the “old” Cooke, then?)

Ballard, 30, isn’t a pushover either. For those who look past his formerly problematic contract and scratches, Ballard showed that he wasn’t shy to throw his body around. That was especially true when it came to his old-school hip checks:

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It’s anyone’s guess if two supporting cast members like Cooke and Ballard will really make that much of a difference, but maybe the team will be “tougher to play against,” as hockey people like to say.

  1. letsgolightning - Jul 14, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    Plus, still got Zenon Konopka. Love watching that guy play.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 14, 2013 at 10:28 PM


      I love the moves the wild / Fletcher have made this last month … all for the better and future of the club (IMO) but Konopka is not fun to watch. He takes 102x more penalties than he forces the opposition to create… not a big fan of his on the ice abilities last year.

      • gooterbaby - Jul 14, 2013 at 11:03 PM

        Yeah Kenopka is garbage. Bad penalties. Bad Positioning. Bad skating. Dude would get stuck on the ice when he should have been changing too often. Good teammate though…dont mind having him as a healthy scratch on the roster.

      • rsmaggiemae - Jul 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        The Wild will be better but still not great.. on defense yes. but they need a sniper shot
        Can hardly wait for Aug 3rd to see Vanek play here with the other players from the Wild and other teams and the proceeds go to Defend the Blue line for soldiers kids to pay for hockey equip. etc
        Fletcher was trying to get rid of Kanopka this year, but no one wanted to take over the contract He has one more year to play yea…
        I am not a fan of his
        Who I really want to see make the team was my favorite player for the gophers/
        Haula… love his attitude on and off the ice and was glad to see that he did not leave the Wild farm team, which he could have done but did not…
        I saw Bjustad the other day by Mariucci he was my other favorite player
        if only the Wild would have picked him in the 2010 draft instead of Granland, what were they thinking?????
        The day of the draft in 2010 I was just shocked that they picked Granland..
        It was a sad day for the fans here as Bjustad is 6’6 230 lbs and has a sniper shot from the left side.// just needs more experience…
        I am sure in due time he will be a great player for Fla

      • lordfletcher - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:03 PM

        bjugstad sucks. Couldn’t be happier the Wild didn’t draft him. He was barely considered in the Gophers top 5 players of the last few years. BARELY

        As for Granlund, give the kid time to adjust to North America. Koivu was decent his first season…. be patient.

  2. ricky9984 - Jul 14, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Wasn’t a fan of Cooke at first, and might not end up being a fan, but I’m willing to give him a shot with the wild. And hopefully playing at home can rejuvenate Ballards career, we sure can could use him if he plays like he’s capable! I like the offseason moves so far, hopefully Fletcher has another move or two in the works!

    • c9castine - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:50 AM

      cooke is a leader and a very good hockey player who stopped costing his team in penalties 2 years ago. he is rarely in the box and naturally still takes some the way he plays but after 10 games youll love him

    • imleftcoast - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      If nothing else, Ballard has a hipcheck as good as Hilliard Graves used to be.

  3. tjvalley - Jul 14, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    Kanopka is a locker room guy with leadership in toughness. He helped the islanders find their identity when he was with us. Other then that he’s virtually useless.

    • slickvb82 - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:20 AM


      I personally like his contribution to the team, and would definitely disagree he is “virtually useless” other than leadership toughness.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM

        He was more valuable as a faceoff man before they changed the rules and penalized you for swiping the puck with your hand.

  4. mrpinkca - Jul 14, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    There are still a lot of question marks on defense. I don’t see them as a playoff team with this roster.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      Questions, yes… but their D has improved over last years roster. And by a lot.

      Suter and Brodin are / will be all-star quality. Spurge is better than most are willing to admit to. Scandella is a question mark but I love adding Ballard and blum

      Dumba most likely being added in 2014 will greatly round out the d. A lot of youth and solid leadership. I love the potential progression this club has.

      Badly lacking elite goal scorer …. cough vanek cough

  5. polegojim - Jul 14, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    Not seeing that ‘attitude’ was a need on this team… I don’t even get thinking that…

    • slickvb82 - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:23 AM

      This team needed toughness/attitude, and I don’t mean Rupp/Konopka toughness. We needed skilled players with toughness/attitude, Cooke brings that and Ballard has the potential to.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:33 AM

        Charlie Coyle definitely has that potential as well. I’d love to see him develop a Lucic/Hartnell/Brown (minus the headshots) edge to his game. I’m hoping Raphael Bussieres ends up that kind of guy too.

      • polegojim - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        This team needs… production for ALL it’s higher priced players… without deflection on THAT as the real issue.

  6. earpaniac - Jul 14, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    All the attitude in the world wouldn’t have helped them against the Blackhawks.

    • montrealbbr - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:01 AM

      It will help when Cooke is able to land a nice head shot or take out the knees of Toews or Kane.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      No, but they’d do better if they dropped the lay-down-and-take-it attitude once momentum swings against them.

  7. hosewater2 - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    Ballard adds ZERO “edge” or “attitude,” but you won’t have to take my word for it. This is hilarious.

  8. twinwildflyer - Jul 15, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Not a fan of Cooke, we’ll see if it works out. Ballard I only like because of the salary he’s getting, and if it results in Stoner being scratched I’m definitely for it.

    • slickvb82 - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:27 AM

      Stoner sucks

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        He does what he’s supposed to, unless he’s turning the puck over. Otherwise, he’s not that bad.

  9. beelza - Jul 15, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    I think the line between edgey and attitude, for Cooke is nearly invisible. Ballard, a wider line.

  10. mnwildnstar - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:18 AM

    Last time I checked, I don’t think anybody else defeated Chicago either.

  11. modellforprez - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    trust me. nobody as a wild fan want cooke to go back to his old self. He will be your best man on the P.K and his motor is relentless. and he will add a little offensive punch. he wont be on a line with Parise or anything but Mike Yeo and Fletch know Cookie well from their time here in Pittsburgh.

  12. vstar1us - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Very interesting article, one thing for sure is if you keep doing the same things over and over again and get the same results you are nuts. The Wild wanted / needed to change up,a few things. I think they have some youth on there side that could help, but development takes time. Sure we all could say what about this, that, this and that but change is what we needed and we will just have to see. I think some of our so called forwards should practice a little defensive skills, they need to figure how to slow the puck down when the other team has it. When a team playing you gets 100,000 shot and your teams only has 27 shots on goal something has to give.
    I know a bit of a stretch but we need to figure out how to slow down the opposing team!
    I do think if we do not make the playoffs The coach and Fletch just might be gone.

    Go Wild

  13. rebekah319 - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    The Wild have more to worry about than toughness! This should make for another interesting year again looking forward to it all!

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