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Wild assistant coach moved by team's gesture

Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

Perched in the press box at the Rogers Center over the weekend, Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson swears he wasn't watching the live stream of the boys state hockey tournament.

Well, at least not while the Wild game against the Vancouver Canucks was actually going on.

"Yes, I was watching our game," Hendrickson said with a laugh. "I had the live stream going between periods."

Who could blame him? His son, Mason, was back home playing for Minnetonka in the Class 2A semifinals, and he was missing it with the Wild on a two-game road trip.

Darby HendricksonA consummate professional, Hendrickson did not to ask for the time off with the Wild battling for playoff position late in the season, but after the Wild wrapped up a 5-2 win over the Canucks on Friday night, general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Bruce Boudreau decided it was best to send Hendrickson home.

"It was Bruce after the game," Hendrickson said. "He kind of called me up and I didn't know if he was serious. He goes, 'What do you think about going home to see your son?' I just said, 'That'd be awesome.' "

Hendrickson spent the night in Vancouver while the rest of the team flew to Edmonton. He hopped on a plane destined for the Twin Cities the following morning and surprised his wife, Dana, at home before the couple headed over the Xcel Energy Center to watch Minnetonka take on Duluth East in the Class 2A championship game.

"We actually got down to St. Paul at like 4 p.m.," Hendrickson said, adding that he hasn't been to the boys state hockey tournament in nearly a decade. "There was a lot going on obviously. It was fun to be a dad and be a fan and see two really good teams."

Minnetonka beat Duluth East 5-2 for its first state championship. Hendrickson called the entire thing a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" that he'll hold near and dear to his heart forever.

"It was something I'll never forget just being there with my son," he said. "It was fun just to be a parent. Those are moments that we can never get back, so the fact that (the team) let me do that was unbelievable."

Seeler practices

After missing the past three games with a strained right bicep, Nick Seeler was back practicing with the Wild on Monday morning and could play against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

"We are going to talk about it and see how he feels," Boudreau said. "He's been skating all week here. This is the first time he's practiced with a group of guys."


Zach Parise and Matt Cullen both missed practice on Monday to attend the funeral of a family friend. "They just phoned this morning," Boudreau said. "It's obviously family first. That's what it was. That's why they're not here today."

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service