The Minnesota Wild were told last night that the NHL will not postpone tonight's game at the Ottawa Senators despite much of their equipment going up in smoke in a van fire on Friday afternoon. (No cause for the blaze has been given yet; we're probably not alone in really hoping to hear one.)
The plan to secure new gear as of yesterday, from the Wild's official Web site:
[Assistant Equipment Manager Brent] Proulx, Assistant Equipment Manager Matt Benz and Chris Pietrzak-Wegner will gather replacement equipment and load it onto a plane bound for Ottawa at 5:30 AM [Saturday] morning.
The plane that will carry the trio and the equipment is scheduled to carry the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks home from Cleveland following their game [Friday night]. The plane was originally scheduled to fly from Milwaukee to Ottawa [Saturday] night. It will now fly to the Twin Cities [Friday night], and then quickly turn around and head to Canada [Saturday] morning with the replacement equipment in tow.
There was a theory floating around last evening that the game could be postponed because of safety concerns, and those concerns are legitimate; not just breaking in stiff equipment but the fact that medicinal items like knee braces were torched in the blaze. As Michael Russo of the Star Tribune noted: "How do you just throw a new knee brace on a player without making sure it fits properly?"
The answer is that a professional training staff had over 24 hours to accomplish that, just like the equipment staff had 24 hours to secure new gear from home or other sources. This was an easy call for the NHL; but it would have been interesting to see the League's response had faceoff been scheduled for Friday night, roughly five hours after the fire started.
One interesting development on the story: Russo reports on Twitter that AHL Houston Aeros goalie Anton Khudobin(notes) is flying to Ottawa in case either Niklas Backstrom(notes) or Josh Harding(notes) don't feel comfortable playing in new equipment. Who starts? Can Minnesota play well in unfamiliar gear? Fire up Center Ice tonight and find out. (OK, pun intended. We'll cop to that.)