Russian rookie learns Wild's rules -- including an odd one about Kaprizov

Sarah McLellan, Star Tribune on

Published in Hockey

CHICAGO – In the month since he arrived from Russia, Marat Khusnutdinov has previewed the potential that made him an intriguing Wild prospect.

He hasn't scored his first NHL goal, but the center picked up his second assist Sunday in the 4-0 win at Chicago, but his confidence has been on the rise.

"It's a lot quicker of a game," said Khusnutdinov, who was in the KHL until signing with the Wild in February after the team drafted him in the second round in 2020. "Decisions are made quicker. Passes are made more accurate. It's just a cleaner game."

But becoming an NHLer is about more than settling in as a player.

Like at any new job, there's also an orientation for how to fit in beyond the work: Is there assigned parking? Where to eat? Are jeans acceptable attire?

The Wild are no different.


"Every single guy on the team is super helpful off the ice," Khusnutdinov said through an interpreter, "always (making) suggestions on where to go, what to do, how to do something."

Players clock in long before the puck drops.

For games, they have to arrive two hours early and for morning skates, they show up to the arena around an hour to an hour-and-a-half before they hit the ice; practices are on a similar timeline.

This gives players the chance to go through their personal routine, get a workout in before practice and attend meetings, which is another reason not to be tardy.


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