Considering the ritualistic devotion hockey players have for their equipment, the Minnesota Wild must be in the middle of a collective nervous breakdown right now. Their equipment truck caught fire this afternoon and their gear smoldered outside of Scotiabank Place, where the team is scheduled to face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
The fire began at approximately 2:30 p.m. Eastern as the van was backing into Scotiabank Place. Firefighters remained on the scene for about 40 minutes. Police say that there were no injuries however a significant amount of the equipment inside was destroyed. Police are still investigating the cause of the blaze.
Beat writer Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reports that team trainers noticed smoke in the back of the truck after arriving at Scotiabank from the Kanata Rec Center, where the team practiced. Russo said the Wild now are in a full-on panic for new gear:
This is obviously unprecedented and the team is in complete scramble mode. Remember, in practice, players use their game gear, just not their normal game sweaters. Assistant equipment trainer Brent Proulx is rushing back to Minnesota to gather equipment and bring it here tomorrow, but the team is also on the phone with the league to determine what can be done regarding the game.
It is not easy for hockey players to just change equipment, and much of the gear was completely destroyed. It's hard to imagine if the game goes on that the Wild will have new gear here by the morning skates.
The Wild are 8-2-0 in the last 10 games; that sound you just heard was every sportscaster in North America scrambling to be the first to say that "the Minnesota Wild are on fire ... literally!"
Coming up, a full gallery of stunning photos featuring the team's charred equipment.
All photos were snapped by Barrie Roney and are courtesy of Dean "Boomer" Molberg, radio host on Calgary's FAN 960, who broke them on his Twitter feed. Big thanks to both of them, as these capture a truly unprecedented NHL scene:
If there is any decision by the NHL about the status of the Wild/Senators game set for Saturday night, we'll update it here.