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Gopher Sports: Nugz From the Bubble

A quick look at the Gopher alums who have or will restart their seasons

LA Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

I don’t know if you have heard but sports...well SOME sports are back. Most of the ones that appear to be successfully starting/restarting their seasons are using “bubbles” One location for games with teams basically quarantined so that hopefully a season can get competed before any potential COVID-19 cases throw that all into dissaray. Looking at you right now MLB...

With the NBA restarting games Thursday night, the NHL set to restart games on Saturday and the WNBA having restarted for about a week now, here is a quick look at what Minnesota Golden Gophers alums are in the various bubbles and what the outlook is for their respective seasons:

NBA:

Amir Coffey is the only former Gopher in a NBA roster in the Orlando bubble. Coffey plays for the Los Angeles Clippers and has bounced between the big club and their G-League affiliate all season long. Coming into the bubble, Coffey played in 14 games with the Clippers averaging 2.2 points per game.

Coffey did make the Clippers 15 man roster for the bubble games and played just over five minutes in the Clippers seeding game opening loss Thursday night 103-101 to the Los Angeles Lakers. Coffey had three points on one trey. See it below:

The Clippers have seven seeding games remaining in Orlando going through August 14th. Then the Clippers will begin the Western Conference Playoffs. They would be the #2 seed if the playoffs started today.

WNBA:

There are two former Gophers in the WNBA bubble that is located at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Minnesota all-time scoring leader Rachel Banham is in her first season with the Minnesota Lynx. Banham has been the first player off the bench for the Lynx in their first three games of the regular season in the bubble. She is averaging 7.7 points per game and 1.3 assists per game in just over 17 minutes per game. Banhan had a great game in the Lynx’s win over the Chicago Sky Thursday night.

The Lynx are 2-1 through their first three games and will continue the rest of their 22 game regular season schedule through mid-September before hopefully continuing on with the playoffs.

Former Gopher center Amanda Zahui B is in her fifth season with the New York Liberty. She has started both of the Liberty’s games this season averaging 9.5 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, and 2 blocks per game in 24.5 minutes per game. The Liberty are 0-2 thus far and have been trying to gel with #1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu finidng her way with the team.

NHL:

The Minnesota Gophers will lead all NCAA teams with 17 former members of the Pride on Ice competing on the 24 different NHL teams in the bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. The Gophers have players on 12 of the 24 rosters with three teams having at least more than one player (Arizona Coyotes -4, Minnesota Wild-2, New York Rangers-2). The players and which teams they play for are listed below:

Travis Boyd—Washington Capitols

Hudson Fasching-Arizona Coyotes

Alex Goligoski-Arizona Coyotes

Eric Haula-Florida Panthers

Justin Holl-Toronto Maple Leafs

Eric Johnson-Colorado Avalanche

Phil Kessel-Arizona Coyotes

Nick Leddy-New York Islanders

Vinni Lettieri-New York Rangers

Ryan Lindgren-New York Rangers

Aaron Ness-Arizona Coyotes

Kyle Rau-Minnesota Wild

Mat Robson-Minnesota Wild

Nate Schmidt-Vegas Golden Knights

Nick Seeler-Chicago Blackhawks

Brady Skeji-Carolina Hurricanes

Blake Wheeler-Winnipeg Jets

While 17 former Gophers are in the bubble, many of them will most likely not see any game action and are there as practice bodies. For example the Wild’s Rau and Robson are almost guaranteed to not see any action barring extreme injuries in the Wild’s opening round series against the Vancouver Canucks after spending the entire season in the AHL. Some will play large roles including Blake Wheeler. Wheeler was nominated for the King Clancy Award earlier this week which goes to the NHL player that “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community”

The NHL begins its playoffs on Saturday with the Eastern Conference teams in Toronto and the Western Conference teams in Edmonton. The first round will consist of a best-of-five series to determine who advances to the typical 16-team playoff format. The top four teams in each conference have a bye through the qualifying round while the #5 seed will play the #12 seed and so on. Only three former Gophers will get that extra rest into the first round of the playoffs as Boyd’s Washington Capitols are the #3 seed in the east, Johnson’s Avalanche are the #2 seed in the West, and Schmidt’s Golden Knights are the #3 seed in the west.

The rest of the 14 remaining Gophers will begin play on Saturday with Brady Skeji’s Hurricanes matching up with his former team and teammates in the New York Rangers, Leddy’s Islanders face Haula’s Panthers and Holl’s Maple Leafs facing the Columbus Blue Jackets in Toronto. In Edmonton it will be Seeler’s Blackhawks against the Edmonton Oilers, The Coyote quad taking on the Nashville Predators, The Wild taking on the Canucks, and Wheeler’s Jets facing the Calgary Flames.

As for the MLB..... there are no current Gophers on any active MLB rosters. Recent first round pick Max Meyer is with the Miami Marlins taxi squad and is on their 60-man roster and could be eligible to play, but has not been promoted to the active roster as of yet, even with the Marlins recent Covid woes.

We will keep you updated on the progress the former Gophers will make as we await a decision on whether or not the current Gophers will be allowed to play or not in the near future.