Already as a rookie, he’s part of that team’s history, an overtime hero.
Zucker isn’t alone, of course. Other Wild players we’ve seen come through Mankato include Zach Parise (North Dakota), Ryan Suter (Wisconsin) and the now-injured Dany Heatley (Wisconsin), among others. It’s fun to see those players in their formative years and try to predict what they’ll become at the next level — if they even get there.
Minnesota State’s alumni include David Backes, whose St. Louis Blues are in the midst of a first-round series against the defending-champion Los Angeles Kings. As the Blues’ captain, Backes is a bona fide NHL star. Meanwhile, Tim Jackman and Ryan Carter have carved out solid careers and are currently with the Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils, respectively.
The hope is we’ll see Eriah Hayes skating with the San Jose Sharks sometime soon.
Here in MSU territory, hockey fans would love nothing more than to see one of the Mavericks get drafted by — or sign a free-agent contract with — and then play for the Wild.
In the meantime, they’ll be learning to love those players they used to love to hate. Like Zucker.
Shane Frederick is a Free Press staff writer. Read his blog at mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @puckato.