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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Clutterbuck question mark tonight; Burrows fined, will play tonight; Stoner reaggravates injury

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: January 13, 2010 - 12:19 PM

Good morning from high above the X ice, where the only Canucks skating this morning are injured Pavol Demitra and Ryan Johnson, backup goalie Andrew Raycroft and goalie coach Ian Clark -- Trevor Kidd's former goalie coach in Florida. The rest of the Canucks have the morning off.

Remember, tonight's an early 6 p.m. start for the same reason why some games can't be telecast or have to start late because of the Versus exclusivity window. TSN has the game of the night in Canada, Pittsburgh at Calgary -- a 9:30 ET start. So all games in Canada have to be done by then, meaning tonight's Wild game has to start at 6 p.m. CT or 7 p.m. ET, or it would not have been allowed to be televised.

Cal Clutterbuck left the ice this morning complaining of some symptoms he felt might have been due to the Sergei Gonchar hit. Before continuing to skate, Clutterbuck wanted to check with trainer Don Fuller. But Clutterbuck said Fuller told him that if he had a concussion, he would have experienced symptoms earlier. So Clutterbuck went back to the ice and finished the skate.

Clutterbuck felt fine after the game Monday night, all day Tuesday.

"I feel a little different this morning," Clutterbuck said. Clutterbuck will go home, catch his afternoon nap and return to the rink tonight and see how he feels. Petr Sykora came off the ice early instead of skating with scratch James Sheppard because Sykora may have to play for Clutterbuck.

Clutterbuck feels he was the recipient of a dirty hit by Sergei Gonchar. We all saw it. He was. So far, it appears as if Gonchar will get away with a flying elbow aimed at Clutterbuck's head. Fast forward to 2:35 of video.

League discipline czar Colie Campbell doesn't explain how he comes up with discipline decisions. Most people think it's a dartboard because the complete lack of consistency is extraordinary.

For instance, Derek Boogaard on his first suspension last year gets five games for elbowing Brandon Prust. Ed Jovanovski concussed Andrew Ebbett, and he got two games, after being suspended two years ago one game for elbowing Marian Gaborik. Then Jovanovski, designated a "repeat offender" by the NHL, gets two games for his hit the other night on star in the making John Tavares. So, at least Jovanovski returns in time for the Wild game Saturday, setting the stage for a big fight between Jovo and Ebbett.

Some people in this league feel Clutterbuck needs to expect to be targeted if he's going to run around hitting people the way he does. Aren't players taught to finish their checks? Does Clutterbuck knee people or hit people from behind? Clearly the referees don't feel that way because Clutterbuck, who leads the league with 177 hits, has 18 penalty minutes (nine minors). NINE MINORS ALL YEAR.

It should be incumbent on the league to protect all players who are having their heads targeted, especially on a team that's been decimated because of concussions this season.

Scorching-hot Canucks forward Alex Burrows (nine goals last five games) has been fined $2,500 for accusing referee Stephane Auger of telling him he'd do it and then actually getting him back during Monday's loss to Nashville. I was hoping Burrows would get suspended so he'd have to sit up in the press box with his biggest enemy, Pierre-Marc Bouchard. The Wild could have sold tickets to watch that.

The NHL had a one-day "investigation," and found it to be a he said-he said thing. Auger faces no discipline (there's a lot of evidence to support Burrows' claim, like video of Auger talking to him during pregame introduction) and will work tonight's Calgary-Pittsburgh game.

I've got to think if this was any other player than Burrows making this claim the league would have looked into this harder. Like if Nick Schultz said it, Auger's career would probably be over. But most people look at Burrows as a dirty, dishonorable, unsportsmanlike player, and I think it caught up to him here. Because look at this bogus call.

Here's two very different columns on the subject, and I'll weigh in on a very bad week in the NHL during my Sunday column:

Toronto Star's Damien Cox (one of the great hockey columnists, by the way) 

Vancouver Sun's Iain MacIntyre with a great one as well

Lastly, Clayton Stoner reaggravated his groin injury during a 3-on-3 drill at Tuesday's practice. He'll be kept off the ice now until he's 100 percent. Talked to Chuck Kobasew, and he still believes he'll play again this season. He said they have to wait for the MCL to heal before really taking a look at the damage to his ACL. He said he plans to start skating when his MCL is healed to see if it's something he can play with even if the ACL is still damaged.

Hey, guess what? If time permits between my flight to St. Louis tomorrow and the morning skates, I might be interviewing the Rock!

I'll be back tonight.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT