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Wild Season Opener: Saturday Night's Alright For Hockey

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The 2010-11 NHL season came to a disappointing end for the Minnesota Wild, as a collapse down the stretch sent the Wild from the middle of the Western Conference to standing on the outside looking in. That was enough to send head coach Todd Richards packing, and he was replaced with Mike Yeo. Yeo led the Wild's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, to the AHL Finals last season, and that impressed Wild management enough to give him the job with the big club.

The Wild will have a new look on the ice, too, having swung a couple of trades with the San Jose Sharks during the off-season to attempt to bring some spark to their offense. Those trades brought in wingers Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley, and they're expected to make up the Wild's first line that will be centered by team captain Mikko Koivu. Setoguchi is a 24-year old that accounted for 41 points for the Sharks last year, while the veteran Heatley accounted for 64 points, including 26 goals.

Minnesota will start the season at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who finished the 2010-11 season in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference (the Wild finished 12th). They're led by left winger Rick Nash, who scored 32 goals for the team last season. This game will actually be the second of the year for the Blue Jackets, who will open the season at home on Friday night against the Nashville Predators.

The puck drops at the XCel Energy Center at 7:00 PM on Saturday night, and there are still some tickets available, if the good folks at Ticketmaster are to be believed. If you are not going to be able to make it to the arena on Saturday night, you can check the game out on television on Fox Sports North. Check your local listings to see where FSN is located on your dial.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.