A familiar name tries to make his own mark with the Wild
Ty Ronning, son of 2003 playoff hero Cliff Ronning, is a training camp invitee looking for his first NHL experience
ST. PAUL — Looking for his first NHL ice time, Ty Ronning was among the 58 players to start Wild training camp Thursday at TRIA Rink. It’s not his first time in downtown St. Paul, although he’s quite a bit older now.
Ronning, a 5-foot-9 wing who played his past four seasons with Hartford of the American Hockey League, was 4 years old when his father, Cliff, helped the Wild advance to the Western Conference final, still the deepest playoff run in franchise history.
“I remember the days here coming to the rink in Minnesota, trying on the goalies’ helmets and stuff,” Ty Ronning said. “It was fun. I’ve always grown up in the dressing room.”
Ronning, 24, hasn’t been back to Xcel Energy Center since arriving here for camp but his immediate goal is to get a chance to play in one of the Wild’s seven preseason games, the first of which is at 3 p.m. Sunday at the X against Colorado.
“I’ve never had an exhibition game, in all my years, so it would be nice to kind of earn my keep in an exhibition game,” he said. “I think that would be great, but ultimately that’s up to my play and how I do.”
A free agent after scoring 18 goals among 21 points in 68 games with the New York Rangers’ AHL club, Ronning signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Iowa Wild and was invited to camp. If he plays well enough in Des Moines to get a callup this season, he’ll have to sign an NHL contract — but that’s the ultimate goal.
Cliff Ronning, like his son a seventh-round draft pick, scored 306 goals and amassed 869 points in a 20-year NHL career. In his lone season in Minnesota, he had nine points (two goals) in 17 playoff games in 2003, when the Wild — playing their third NHL season — upset Colorado and Vancouver before being swept by Anaheim in the Western Conference final.
“Definitely some big shoes to fill with my father, who was a great hockey player,” Ronning said. “He likes to say I have a better shot than him. He was a really good passer; I like to shoot.”
The Wild continued working on things they struggled with last year. After working on a new power play on Thursday, the team worked on its penalty kill — including a long video session — and had faceoff competitions in each of their three practice sessions on Friday.
“Another area of concern for us,” coach Dean Evason said.
The Wild’s 46.7 percent success rate on draws ranked 29th out of 32 NHL teams last season.
Minnesota finished with a franchise-best 53 wins and 113 points last season but was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, 4-2, by St. Louis. With largely the same team returning, focus has been on shoring up weaknesses.
“We had a good year, but we didn’t have the year we wanted, right?” Evason said. “So, we’re very conscious of that to really focus on the intensity part of it and starting (the season) the right way and not resting on anything. We did nothing last year except what we’re supposed to do.”
Wild coaches are trying to keep forwards Jordan Greenway and Jon Merrill, recovering from offseason upper-body surgeries, away from the rough stuff during training camp, but it already was proving difficult on Day 2.
“Probably Greenway did a little too much this morning,” Evason said. “We caught him a couple of times trying to do a little more battling drills than we wanted him to, and Jonny Merrill was on the second one. So, we were very aware not to do too much with them.”
Otherwise, the coach said, the injury front was calm.
“Everyone looks good, even those two,” Evason said. “We still don’t want them doing a ton of battle stuff, but they got a little bit here today.”
Defenseman Matt Dumba was in Toronto this month for the premiere of “Black Ice,” a documentary about the contributions of Black players in Canadian hockey, at the Toronto Film Festival. Dumba, from Calgary, is interviewed in the film.
This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.