Just months after the Minnesota Wild lost in the Western Quarterfinals to eventual Stanley Cup Winners Chicago Blackhawks, Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin is asking himself a very difficult question: Should I retire from the National Hockey League?
“I’ve been playing hockey for almost my entire life,” said Brodin while sculpting a miniature elk from the vulcanized rubber of a Vegum hockey puck. “Yah, when you’ve played this long and accomplished so much, at one point you have to start thinking about your future. Yah know, like open a bakery or become a Chef de cuisine.”
After playing two full seasons in the Swedish Elitserien league and accumulating 16 points (2, 14), Brodin was on the fence about continuing forward with hockey at the next level, despite his strong defensive play. And a new, emerging interest soon shifted his attention.
“I started taking a cooking class during the 2011 off season and I thought, oh wow, this is something I could really get in to. 10-day Amish Friendship Bread? Amazing. Croquembouche? Incredible.” But, ultimately, Brodin decided to postpone his culinary career and see if he had a few years of hockey left in him.
Deciding to join the Wild organization was trying for Brodin, and it certainly didn’t start off smoothly. During an early November AHL game against Oilers affiliate Oklahoma City Barons, Brodin suffered a broken clavicle from a hit by Taylor Hall. But following a full recovery Brodin would be called up to the Wild and quickly earn a spot on the team’s top defensive line.
When asked about his speedy ascent through the AHL, Brodin said, “For sure, yah, things worked out pretty well. I made it to the Show, and that’s pretty cool, you know, when you think about it. But when I consider all the other cool guys I met with the Wild organization, I feel I should step aside so they can move up and everything. I mean, some of these young guys really like hockey.”
Regarding his Rookie of the Year nomination snub, Brodin was mostly congenial. “I’ll admit I was kind of disappointed when I didn’t get a nod for the Calder trophy. But just to show there are no hard feelings, I’ve been mailing out some tips to the PCWA on how to best layer the batter when making Baumkuchen. I know that Russo at the Trib [sic] thinks he has it down pat, but you know, let’s just say he needs some pointers.”
Celebrating his 20th birthday in July, Brodin’s journey into the NHL has been an inspiring one for other young players in the Wild organization. Current Wild prospect Matthew Dumba hopes to replicate Brodin’s swift arrival to the Wild in the 13-14 season. And reports suggest that fellow Swede and Wild prospect Daniel Gunnarsson has just completed his second advanced cooking class as he prepares for the National Hockey League.
“If you look at Brodin’s numbers after he began studying the culinary arts, you see his points total double. And his solid post season play in 2011? He had registered for that Cooking 101 the week before,” said a mesmerized Gunnarsson.
Weighing his options for the 13-14 season, Brodin hasn’t been shy about his new passion. “I spoke with Yeo about coming back this season and we tossed a few ideas around. He really liked my idea about putting together a cooking class for the locker room after practices, so I’m hoping that that happens. Last week I sent out a doodle to the boys about what they’d want to work on first, but I’m not sure they’ve seen my email yet…”
While the Wild organization has yet to announce plans to integrate cooking classes into or following team practices, there have been hints at a new culinary approach to Wild hockey. Indeed, as the 2013 prospect camp took place earlier this summer, the Wild draftees and invitees alike gathered at Cooks of Crocus Hill in the Twin Cities to spend some time dishing out biscuits— in the kitchen.
“Yah, it looks like I’m coming back for at least one more season,” said Brodin with a smile. “But you can be sure I’m eyeing that Team Cook position with the Front Office that Yeo has been telling me about.”
- At press time, the existence of a Team Cook position could not be confirmed.
- Fellow Wild rookie Charlie Coyle is reportedly head over heels for Brodin’s masterful pasta and cereal techniques.
- Incidentally, it has been reported that recently signed Wild forward Matt Cooke has begun watching kitchen footage to address supposed concerns regarding his culinary methodology.