Brainerd summer resident Bret Hedican returned to Minnesota as a Stanley Cup champion as the Carolina Hurricanes played the Wild Saturday night. However it was not to be a homecoming to be remembered for Hedican as the Wild scored four goals in the first period and would go on to win 5-4 in a physical shootout.
Before the game Hedican spoke to me about his season so far.
Q: You're back in Minnesota, playing for the first time since you won the Stanley Cup. How is it coming back?
A: I wish Carolina came here every year. It's a lot of fun. My friends, family and fans get a chance to see me play.
Q: You've been banged up this season with a torn ligament in your ring finger and a sore hip. How are you feeling today?
A: I'm getting better, getting stronger. I think I'm stronger than I was at the beginning of the year where I was struggling. I would've liked to have another month of training and rehab (but it was time to start the season).
Bret Hedican is an integral part of the Hurricanes' defense. Carolina Hurricanes/Gregg Forwerck
Q: Carolina has been ravaged with injuries on the defensive side. Do you think getting healthy is key to getting more consistency for the team?
A: Definitely. We finally have a full defensive corps. Our practices lately have been a higher tempo. The puck is getting moved a little quicker. Our team is getting into a little rhythm. If we can stay healthy on the back end our team can be successful.
Q: Besides getting healthy, what will be the keys to making another run at the Stanley Cup?
A: We have a lot of teams right on our heels. We are in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference so we're a team that needs to keep winning games and put ourselves into a good situation. If we can play playoff-type hockey now, I think we'll be fine.
Q: You spent the All-Star break at Disney World with your family - how was that vacation?
A: It was great. I think I enjoy it more as an adult than I did as a kid. I had a really fun four days with my two girls and Kristi (Yamaguchi).
Q: Over the summer you visited the White House with Kristi. You shared a table with vice president Dick Cheney. What was that experience like?
A: Lots of fun. Kristi had received an invitation to go there from the Prime Minister of Japan. At the dinner we talked about a lot of things. The Vice President did congratulate me on winning the Stanley Cup which was pretty cool. For him to know that I played hockey was special.
TREVOR WILLIAMS, sports copy
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