Bonin signs NHL deal with Wild, Sanden leaves Gophers hoops

Brian Bonin is coming home.
The former Gophers hockey star and White Bear Lake native signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
Bonin, a center, won the 1996 Hobey Baker Award given to the country’s best college hockey player. He led the nation in scoring that year, collecting 81 points in 42 games.
During his career at Minnesota, Bonin scored 100 goals and dished out 116 assists.
He was only the third Gophers player to win the Hobey Baker. Neal Broten (1981) and Robb Stauber (1988) are the other two.
Bonin was originally drafted by Pittsburgh in the ninth round of the 1992 entry draft but stayed with the Gophers for four years.
Since leaving Minnesota, Bonin has bounced around the minors. Last season, he played in 67 games for the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League. Bonin’s 19 goals were third on the team.
Tom Lynn, the Wild’s director of hockey administration and legal affairs, saw Bonin play in Syracuse and said he will fit in with the Wild’s expansion plans.
“He’s a fairly proven guy,” Lynn said. “His potential is an upside, and he will have an opportunity to succeed here.”
Unlike the Gophers, the Wild certainly won’t have a team stacked with local talent. But Lynn said Bonin could be an added bonus.
“First and foremost, (Wild fans) want to see the best players,” Lynn said. “If the best players are from Minnesota, the fans will be that much happier.”
Sanden done with hoops
Gophers big man Kyle Sanden has elected to forego his senior season and take a medical waiver on his scholarship, the team announced Saturday.
The senior has suffered from a minor heart condition called vasovagel syncope since his arrival at Minnesota in 1996. The medical problem causes frequent fainting.
Gophers coach Dan Monson said he understood the reasoning behind Sanden’s decision.
“This was a difficult thing for Kyle to do,” Monson said in a press release. “He is a fierce competitor and loves the game, but his long-term health is more important than basketball. We will miss his size and experience, but feel this is the right decision, and we wish him the best.”
The Gophers are not able to give Sanden’s basketball scholarship to another player. Instead, the scholarship will be given to the NCAA as part of the University’s self-imposed sanctions surrounding the academic scandal.
Przybilla signs with Bucks
Former Gophers basketball star Joel Przybilla, the ninth pick in last month’s NBA Draft, signed a three year contract for just shy of $5 million with Milwaukee.
Przybilla, who was drafted by Houston before being shipped to the Bucks for Jason Collier and a future No. 1 pick, had been working out with Milwaukee since last Wednesday.
He becomes the fifth Minnesota player in the last four years to sign an NBA contract right out of college. Bobby Jackson, John Thomas, Sam Jacobson and Quincy Lewis are the others.