Most of the rest of the players had already finished practice, packed up and headed out of Xcel Energy Center Wednesday morning by the time John Madden, having gone through hours of therapy on his sore foot, limped out.
On most days, this would just be an injury update. In that spirit, here it is: The Wild left for its upcoming road trip without Madden, Martin Havlat and Cam Barker. Of course, Gui Latendresse is also out. The good news is that goalie Jose Theodore's sore leg was good enough for him to practice today. He and Cal Clutterbuck -- who also returned to practice -- are OK and went on the trip.
But, this being so close to the end of the season, and given what Madden told Mike Russo a few days ago, the sight of Madden limping out of the locker room was a sad one. Madden told Russo that, given that he and his family have fallen in love with Minnesota, the only options for him going forward are re-signing with the Wild or retiring.
Given that the former is no guarantee, is the latter a very real possibility. Or, even sadder: Will the injury Madden is dealing with mean that he has already played his last NHL game in an 11-plus-year career that included being a part of three Stanley Cup champions?
Time will tell. I talked with Madden about it, and I'll share what he had to say in tomorrow's paper. But know this: Madden wants very much to play against in the season finale. I hope his foot heals enough for him to do that.
The Wild practiced so early today because they had to finish up in time for the four Frozen Four teams to get their workouts in. There is a big college hockey contingent in the Wild organization. Madden and Eric Nystrom both played four years at Michigan, with Madden winning an NCAA championship there. Wild assistant Rick Wilson played at North Dakota, as did former Wild player and current director of player development Brad Bombardir. goaltending coach Bob Mason went to Minnesota-Duluth. So you can bet there has been some trash talking over at Xcel this week.
Silver lining? Madden was looking for tickets to Thursday's semifinal. Both he and Nystrom (more so Nystrom) are huge Michigan fans. Should the Wolverines make the final, both will be there. Nystrom said that, should Michigan make Saturday's championship game, he'd do anything to get a ticket, even paying $2,000 for a scalped ticket if he had to.
That's about all for now. Russo is already in Vancouver, and he'll be with the team tomorrow. Have a good day.