|(above) Jason Zucker watched the Minnesota Wild play the Avs on Tuesday night|
by Michael Russo
Jason Zucker, one of three Wild second-round picks in 2010 and a sophomore forward at the University of Denver, attended his third Wild game of the season at the Pepsi Center Tuesday night.
Like the good college student he is, Zucker, preparing to play Wisconsin this weekend in a first-round series of the WCHA playoffs, always uses the opportunity to study.
"It's fun to go out and see the Wild. I like watching hockey," said Zucker, who came with Pioneers teammate and Florida Panthers draft pick Sam Brittain. "I know a lot of hockey players that don't really enjoy watching hockey just because it engulfs their life so much as it is.
"That is not me. I enjoy watching and especially learning. When I go to a game, I don't sit there and cheer. I watch different things and try to learn the NHL game because my goal is to get there."
The big question many Wild fans want to know is, When will Zucker turn pro? Lately, and as recently as last week, General Manager Chuck Fletcher has said how exciting it is for the Wild that "six forwards are turning pro next year."
Fletcher is clearly including Zucker, although when pressed, Fletcher clarified it will be "up to the player. At the end of the year, we'll sit down with [Pioneers coach] George Gwozdecky and Jason and see where everybody feels he's at. We're not going to go in the middle of the night and take him out of there.
"There are going to be conversations. Certainly though, I think, we have opinions of what we feel would be right."
Zucker said he's made "no decision whatsoever" about his future.
"I am focused 100 percent on the present and what myself and Denver has to do to make it to the national tournament," said Zucker, who is tied for seventh in the WCHA with 20 goals and sixth with 42 points in 31 games. "I have seen numerous times that Chuck has said that, and I do respect the fact that he has said that and acknowledge [the possibility].
"Coming from one of the best GM's in the league, it's exciting to hear. But I'm not worried about that now. When the season comes to an end, it's something we'll talk about further with Coach Gwozdecky, my dad [Scott] and Chuck to figure out the best option for myself.
"As far as now, I'm coming back to the University of Denver."