Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
PHILADELPHIA -- Robert Covington looked very much at home Tuesday night, Jan. 15, strolling around the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center. He could barely walk 10 feet without seeing a familiar face, evidence of how much of a fan favorite he became during his five years with the Philadelphia 76ers. “It’s a little bit weird just being on the other side,” said Covington, who is still recovering from a bone bruise on his right knee. “It’s going to be emotional not being able to play. I received a lot of love here, and like I said, I’m just thankful for the memories I had here.”
PHILADELPHIA — Nate Prosser has always prided himself on not making a fuss. No matter if he’s in the lineup or in the press box, the 32-year-old Elk River native never wants his teammates to be able to tell the difference. “That’s kind of just the way I was brought up,” he said. “I’m not a guy that’s going to complain or be negative or be down. I’m always upbeat. I’m always being positive. I just want to be that good energy guy each and every day.” Lately, the Wild have needed Prosser to be more than just a good teammate.
PHILADELPHIA — Chuck Fletcher will sit in his perch at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday, Jan. 14, to watch a team he might know better than the one he’s currently charged with rebuilding. Hired last month to fix the Philadelphia Flyers, Fletcher is still very much learning about the franchise made famous by the Broad Street Bullies in the mid-1970s. Their opponent Monday, he knows well; Fletcher largely built the Wild roster, and hired the guy coaching it, that will face off against the Flyers.
EAGAN, Minn. -- Mike Zimmer has a reputation of being one of the most stubborn head coaches in the NFL, a trait that should serve him well as the league continues its seismic shift away from his area of expertise. It was only a month and a half ago that the 62-year-old Zimmer cited his distaste for the 105 points and 1,001 yards of offense produced together by the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs in a “Monday Night Football” game. “Not my cup of tea,” Zimmer said at the time. “It might run me out of football.”
ST. PAUL -- Charlie Coyle likes to joke that he has been on the trading block for as long as he can remember. He was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Minnesota Wild before his first NHL game and his name seemingly has been floated for deals ever since. Those rumors always seem to intensify whenever Coyle goes into a slump, and while he admitted that it used to both him. Now, he’s found a way to cope with that.
MINNEAPOLIS - Derrick Rose has always been a believer in Tom Thibodeau, if nothing else, because the 60-year-old coach has always been a steadfast believer of him. A relationship that dates back to their days together with the Chicago Bulls nearly a decade ago, Rose has long counted Thibodeau as one of his biggest confidants, which is what made Sunday’s news of his firing so difficult. “It was shocking,” Rose said. “I’m hurt. It’s part of the business You’ve just got to live with it.”
EAGAN, Minn. -- Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says he is still “evaluating everything” when it comes to hiring his next offensive coordinator. Yes, that means he’s still considering interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, though if it sounds that if he’s going to get the job on a permanent basis it will happen sometime early next week. “Well, he’s technically under contract until Tuesday, so we have exclusive rights,” Zimmer said. “Obviously, I’ll decide before then.”
EAGAN, Minn. -- It’s become a running joke inside the Vikings locker room that the only thing Aldrick Robinson does is score touchdowns. He caught five touchdown passes this season, finding the end zone on nearly 30 percent of his receptions, and earning himself the nickname “Mr. Touchdown” by some of his teammates. Those numbers came after the 30-year-old Robinson joined the team in Week 3. Imagine what he could do with a full offseason under his belt. It sure sounds like Robinson wants to find out.
ST. PAUL -- U.S. Olympian Jim Craig was back in the Twin Cities last month, a place he fondly refers to as his second home after spending some time in the area as a member of the Minnesota North Stars back in the mid-1980s. While he’s become a fairly notable motivational speaker these days, and was in town for a couple of speaking engagements recently with Comcast Business, no doubt Craig always will be remembered as the goaltender for Miracle On Ice’s 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team that shocked the world by capturing the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
EAGAN, Minn. -- Mike Zimmer survived Black Monday, the day immediately following the final day the regular season in which a bunch of NFL coaches usually get fired. That means barring something baffling, the 62-year-old head coach will return next season as the Minnesota Vikings try to pick up the pieces following a disappointing campaign that ended much sooner than expected.