Jets' Lemieux set for NHL debut vs. Wild
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- If Brendan Lemieux can channel even a fraction of his dad's tenacity, the Minnesota Wild are in for a super annoying game Friday night.
The Winnipeg Jets (3-3-0) recalled the offspring of Claude Lemieux, arguably the most annoying hockey agitator of all time when he played from 1985-2003, and the 21-year-old will make his NHL debut at Bell MTS Place.
Brendan Lemieux will take the ice three days after nearly playing for Winnipeg against the Columbus Blue Jackets before eventually watching the Jets' 5-2 loss from the press box.
"You try to go about it like it's every other day, even though it's not every other day," he told a media scrum after practice on Thursday. "It's emotional. Obviously, I was really excited the other day when I got the call and thought I was in.
"It's a roller coaster, but any day you spend in the NHL is a great day. I've been waiting my whole life for this. It's been a dream since I watched my dad play in the NHL."
Lemieux, who has three goals and two assists in four games this season with the AHL's Manitoba Moose, was acquired by the Jets in the blockbuster deal that sent left winger Evander Kane and defenseman Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres in February 2015.
His dad won three Stanley Cups with three different teams but is best remembered as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. In the height of the rivalry between the Avs and Detroit Red Wings, Lemieux hit forward Kris Draper from behind in the 1996 playoffs, breaking Draper's orbital, cheek and jaw bones, turning up the heat on an already simmering series.
The Wild (1-2-1) might as well be travelling to Winnipeg in an air ambulance.
Center Charlie Coyle is out with a broken leg, left winger Marcus Foligno has a broken facial bone, right winger Mikael Granlund has a sore groin, and left winger Nino Niederreiter has a sprained ankle. Left winger Zach Parise also left practice early this week with an undisclosed injury.
The team has been so short-handed that assistant coach Darby Hendrickson suited up in full gear and skated on the third line. The 45-year-old played more than 500 games in the NHL for five teams but retired 10 years ago after finishing his career in Europe.
Foligno has been cleared to play against the Jets, although he will wear a full cage for two weeks as his cheekbone continues to heal. Granlund will be a game-time decision.
The Wild's fitness is really going to be tested over the next few weeks. After playing just four games during the first 19 days of the month -- tied with Carolina for the fewest in the league -- Minnesota will play six games in the next 11 days and 21 games in the next 42 days.
"Once we start playing, it doesn't seem like we're going to end playing until mid-December," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said after practice on Thursday. "The season starts for us (Friday in Winnipeg)."
Updated October 20, 2017