Wednesday October 19, 2011

Yesterday was quite a day.  We've remarked often here about people's kindness and generosity and Tuesday was one of those days.  Such a good day that Shannon, in her teenage exuberance, posted on her Facebook page last night, "Best Day Ever!"

We played hooky and spend the day with Shjon Podein for a behind the scenes look with the Minnesota Wild.  Shjon is a Rochester native who is well known as a Stanley Cup winning hockey player, but also for all the charitable work he does through his children's foundation, Team 25. (  His foundation's mission: To improve the quality of life and create an environment of caring and community support for children facing extraordinary difficulties in their lives.

We attended the morning skate where Shannon blushed as Colton Gilles winked at her, then she and Erin smiled from ear to ear when goalie Josh Harding handed them a goalie stick.  We heard some choice locker room language as the players ribbed each other, which added the the whole experience!

After the practice we watched the players clear out of the locker room.  Nice guy awards go to Nick Shultz, Josh Harding, and Matt Cullen who stopped to meet the girls and shake their hands.  Shannon's favorite Wild player, Mikko Koivu, is now my favorite as well - he emerged from the locker room wearing a Roger Federer baseball cap.

Once the locker room was clear, the Wild's assistant athletic trainer, John Worley, gave us a tour.  Worley and Shjon are good buddies from the 5 years they spent together with the Philadelphia Flyers.  The girls were wide eyed checking out the stick room and sitting on the bench at the Excel Energy Center.

The afternoon highlight was watching the Pittsburgh players come and go and having a chat with Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.  We were staying at the same hotel as the Penguins and using the same Starbucks as well.  We said hello to the coach as he came in for a cup of coffee and he stopped to ask the girls how the Wild looked at the morning skate.  We talked about Sidney Crosby and when he might return.  He told the girls to have fun at the game, but not too much fun.

While the game was a bit of a dud (the Wild looked really average) it really didn't matter.  For a sports loving, hockey playing 13 year old, it qualified as the best day ever ...