Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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M&M Boys tonight; Kobasew/Hnidy excited; Latendresse update; Bouchard talks with Bergeron; "Respect the logo"

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: November 25, 2009 - 1:13 PM

(edited with typo corrections. I should start reading before publishing).

By the way, Russo Radio on KSTP (am-1500) tonight at 6.

Good afternoon from high above the X ice, where tonight A.L. MVP Joe Mauer will drop the ceremonial puck prior to the Wild's game against the Boston Bruins. Sidekick and former A.L. MVP Justin Morneau will be upstairs doing the "Let's Play Hockey."

So that should have the crowd rockin' and maybe motivate the Wild. It's not easy to simulate game-action in four off days and three practices, and as Rachel wrote today, the last time the Wild had four days off after building some momentum with wins against the Rangers and Pens, it laid a giant egg against Vancouver.

Chuck Kobasew will indeed return to the Wild's lineup tonight, and in time to face the team that traded him here to Minnesota last month. Sheriff Shane Hnidy will also play his old team. Hnidy signed with the Wild in July after playing with the Bruins.

An update on Guillaume Latendresse's immigration status: The Wild filed the paperwork yesterday in an attempt to expedite the process and get his work visa by today. This is a pressing issue because the Wild needs to try to get it into the hands of FedEx today and not tomorrow. In the United States, FedEx doesn't operate on Thanksgiving, but because it's a U.S. holiday, FedEx will deliver in Canada on Thursday.

So if the Wild can FedEx it by the end of today, Latendresse can get it by tomorrow and hopefully be on a flight to arrive in Minnesota tomorrow night for back-to-back games against Colorado.

If it's delayed at all, he may not be able to play Friday or Saturday. He hasn't skated with the Canadiens since Monday, but GM Chuck Fletcher asked him to try to skate with his old junior team, Drummondville, or the junior team in Montreal.

Hopefully I'll get an update tonight as to whether the work visa situation was approved and mailed out today.

Latendresse's number will be 48 now, by the way. He wore 22 in junior and was given 84 in Montreal apparently. He was OK with 48 as the Wild doesn't seem too keen on giving out high numbers anymore.

Speaking of high numbers, sidelined No. 96 sought out Boston's Patrice Bergeron this morning. Remember, two years ago, Bergeron was slammed violently into the boards from behind by Philly's Randy Jones. He missed the rest of the season with a concussion (Oct. 27 on), and then sustained another concussion last December. He's been by all accounts Boston's most consistent player this season and leads the B's in scoring.

Bergeron gave Bouchard a lot of advice and some words of encouragement. I'll have that story in Thursday's paper.

In other news, the Wild followed the lead of some other NHL teams and put a piece of carpet over the locker-room logo in the morning so media and players can't walk on it. Richards said the logo should be respected.

I always find this stuff humorous because the Florida Panthers used to forbid people from walking on their logo. Then Mike Keenan became coach, walked on the logo the first day, and shocked reporters yelled at him that it wasn't allowed. Keenan then leaped in the middle of the logo, jumped up and down and said, "We probably need some players to walk on the logo so the logo comes up and bites them and gets them revved up a bit." (I looked it up).

The Canucks have carpet on their logo in the morning. The funny thing about that is you know how some teams have cameras in the locker room to show the players between intermission? When that footage is shown on TV or the scoreboard, players are walking back and forth over the logo between periods.

The Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals had cones around its logo and actually had people patrolling the carpet to yell at reporters who slipped up. Speaking of slipped up, my old colleague from the paper across the river stepped on the Penguins' logo last season. He got annihilated by angry players and personnel during an uncomfortable scene. He wrote a blog about it if I can remember correctly.

OK, I think that's it. All healthy Wild players will play tonight. Looks like Jame Sheppard will play wing. Check out my Sunday column again on the value of playing in the minors. Talked to Sheppard, who never got that ability, about it, as well as Colton Gillies, who's currently getting that chance.

I'll try to squeeze in the Clutterbuck-Schultz stuff into the paper tomorrow. If I can't fit it, I'll put on the blog tonight. Some funny lines.

 

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