Wild bruisers play nice

Published 8:55am Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fans lined up outside the Wells Fargo in Albert Lea Tuesday waiting for an opportunity to see some of their favorite hockey players.

Wild players Derek Boogaard and Todd Fedoruk, along with former North Stars player Tom Reid showed up to sign autographs and take pictures with fans who bleed forest green and Iron Range red.

Among those were Alex Bledsoe and Scott Stolaas who wore their Wild jerseys and painted their faces.

“It’s hard to get up there and meet these guys,” Stolaas said. “So when they come down here, it brings it a little closer to home.”

Stolaas brought Bledsoe along because his favorite player is Derek Boogaard, the man fans like to call the “Boogey Man.”

“It’s really awesome,” Bledsoe said of meeting Boogaard. “He’s a really good fighter.”

Boogaard has recorded 36 regular season fights in his NHL career, according to hockeyfights.com and one of those came against Fedoruk in October 2006 when Fedoruk played for the Anaheim Ducks.

In that bout Boogaard landed a vicious uppercut to Fedoruk’s face that ended in Fedoruk going to the hospital for a broken cheekbone, essentially ending Fedoruk’s fighting career. Fedoruk has been in 90 NHL regular season fights, according to hockeyfights.com.

But as unusual of a pairing it was for the Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild Road Tour, the duo were amicable enough for Boogaard to have a conversation with Stolaas’ daughter.

She moved to Virginia and couldn’t meet her favorite player so Stolaas had Boogaard speak on his cell phone.

“My daughter and I go to all these games,” Stolaas said. “She wasn’t expecting it and she got to talk to her favorite player, so that’s awesome.”

Even Fedoruk got into the niceties as he saw the session as an opportunity to engage fans.

“It’s a great way for us as players to give back to the fans,” Fedoruk said. “Ultimately they’re the ones that make us tick and keep the organizations running. I think it is crucial that they get a little more of a personal touch from the players and it makes the games they go to a little more special.”

Stolaas says he goes to about 30 to 35 of the games during the season and although the playoffs were disappointing he doesn’t get down on the team.

“It was a disappointing ending, but it was an awesome season,” Stolaas said. “A bad season is an awesome season with the guys.”