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.
Afternoon from high above an empty X, where I'm all alone in a dark press box, too.
Wild coach Mike Yeo announced the roster today for the Wild's first exhibition game in Edmonton. Remember, the Wild didn't win a preseason game last season, other than the game at Ilves Tampere. The Wild won that one 5-1, I believe, with Cal Clutterbuck getting a hat trick. I think Chuck Kobasew and Marek Zidlicky also scored in that game.
I scare myself with the meaningless info I remember.
I also remember accidentally racking up like a $2,000 aircard bill on the bus ride back to Helsinki trying to upload the Clutterbuck video.
The roster Tuesday:
Guillaume Latendresse-Matt Cullen-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Darroll Powe-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck
Brett Bulmer-Warren Peters-Jed Ortmeyer
Matt Kassian-David McIntyre-Jarod Palmer
Jordan Hendry-Mike Lundin
Clayton Stoner-Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk-Nate Prosser
Extra, it appears: Tyler Cuma
Josh Harding, making his first start since his exhibition debut a year ago, and Matt Hackett will split the cage.
In today's scrimmage, the green team beat the white team 1-zip, with Dany Heatley scoring the lone goal on a penalty shot.
So yes, in two scrimmages, the Wild didn't score a goal when actual hockey was played. Of course, it's easier to get goals than teach defense, so maybe that's why Mike Yeo seems so confident right now with this team. If the scrimmages were 7-5 each day, that'd be a big sign of work needing to be done.
Again today, the Wild put forth bigtime effort, although there were a boatload of turnovers late in the scrimmage.
The best line clearly was that Cullen line with Bouchard and Latendresse. The line buzzed and buzzed and spent most every one of their shifts in the offensive zone. Their last shift of the game, they absolutely used and abused the Koivu line, pinning the line in the defensive zone for a minute.
Other notables today: Jeff Taffe was very physical. Jordan Hendry was good again, and the tryout earned himself a spot in Edmonton. He previously wasn't slated to play, but Yeo said he warranted it, so Nick Schultz gets to stay home.
As I mentioned, Bouchard was obviously healthy today after missing yesterday with a hammy. Niklas Backstrom practiced today but was held out of his second scrimmage in a row for maintenance.
Monday is Hump Day -- the third day in training camp, which on most teams I've covered is pretty lousy. Usually the players' legs are mush, which makes for sloppy practices and frustrated coaches.
The Wild won't scrimmage Monday. Instead, Yeo will run two longer practices with each practice split by a flooding to resurface the ice. Yeo will work 5-on-5 throughout, everything from the defensive-zone coverage and neutral zone (installed today), forecheck and breakout.
On Tuesday, special teams will be worked on by the group of 21 players in Edmonton with Yeo, Darryl Sydor and Rick Wilson and by the rest of the team back in Minnesota by Darby Hendrickson and John Torchetti.
I'll give you a quick blog Monday before my flight to Edmonton. Just an fyi: the Wild-Oilers game is supposed to be streamed on edmontonoilers.com.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday Vikings fans
Every regular-season game will be televised for the second straight year.
SAINT PAUL/MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Minnesota Wild, in conjunction with FOX Sports North today announced the club’s cable broadcast schedule for the 2011-12 season. For the second consecutive season all 82 regular season contests will be televised in high definition. FOX Sports North will televise a total of 72 games and the Wild will make 10 national television appearances. Minnesota will make nine appearances on VERSUS and will host the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins on NBC on Feb. 19, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.
FOX Sports North’s telecast schedule features 25 different opponents and begins with the Wild’s home opener against Columbus on Oct. 8. FOX Sports North will broadcast 22 games against Northwest Division opponents, four contests each against Dallas, Detroit and St. Louis and three matches each against Chicago, Los Angeles and San Jose. The sixth annual “Hockey Day Minnesota” will feature the Wild’s game against the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. on FOX Sports North. FOX Sports North will also telecast games against the following Eastern Conference opponents: Buffalo, Carolina, Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Toronto and Winnipeg. FOX Sports North’s schedule includes 34 telecasts at Xcel Energy Center and 38 road contests.
Wild Live presented by Century Link on FOX Sports North will air before and after every game telecast, part of the network’s family of comprehensive and personalized pre and postgame shows.
Minnesota Wild telecasts on FOX Sports North will feature play-by-play announcer Dan Terhaar and color analyst Mike Greenlay. Anthony LaPanta will host Wild Live presented by Century Link before and after every game featuring analysis from Tom Chorske and Kevin Gorg.
FOX Sports North reaches more than 2 million homes throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota and telecasts nearly 2,600 hours of locally produced programming per year. The Emmy Award-winning regional sports network provides comprehensive coverage of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, MLB’s Minnesota Twins, the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx as well as the University of Minnesota athletic events. For more information: www.foxsportsnorth.com
Single-game tickets are on sale now for all Wild home games. Visit www.wild.com or www.Ticketmaster.com for more information.
-- WILD --
Follow the Minnesota Wild on Twitter and Facebook.
MINNESOTA WILD 2011-12 TELEVISION SCHEDULE
DAY DATE OPPONENT TIME (CT) TV
SEPTEMBER – PRESEASON
Tue. 20 @ Edmonton 8:00 P.M.
Thur. 22 @ St. Louis 7:00 P.M.
FRI. 23 COLUMBUS 7:00 P.M.
Sat. 24 @ Pittsburgh 2:00 P.M.
TUE. 27 ST. LOUIS 7:00 P.M.
Thur. 29 @ Columbus 6:00 P.M.
FRI. 30 EDMONTON 7:00 P.M.
OCTOBER – REGULAR SEASON
SAT. 8 COLUMBUS 7:00 P.M. FSN
Mon. 10 @ N.Y. Islanders 12:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 11 @ Ottawa 6:30 P.M. FSN
THUR. 13 EDMONTON 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 15 DETROIT 7:00 P.M. FSN
TUE. 18 PITTSBURGH 6:30 P.M. VERSUS
Thur. 20 @ Edmonton 8:30 P.M. FSN
Sat. 22 @ Vancouver 3:00 P.M. FSN
THUR. 27 ANAHEIM 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 29 DETROIT 7:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 1 @ Detroit 6:30 P.M. FSN
THUR. 3 VANCOUVER 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 5 ST. LOUIS 7:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 8 @ Calgary 8:30 P.M. FSN
Thur. 10 @ San Jose 9:30 P.M. FSN
Sat. 12 @ Los Angeles 9:30 P.M. FSN
Sun. 13 @ Anaheim 7:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 15 @ Columbus 6:00 P.M. FSN
THUR. 17 COLORADO 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 19 ST. LOUIS 7:00 P.M. FSN
WED. 23 NASHVILLE 7:00 P.M. FSN
FRI. 25 EDMONTON 3:00 P.M. FSN
SUN. 27 CALGARY 5:00 P.M. FSN
MON. 28 TAMPA BAY 6:30 P.M. VERSUS
Wed. 30 @ Edmonton 8:30 P.M. FSN
FRI. 2 NEW JERSEY 7:00 P.M. FSN
Sun. 4 @ Anaheim 7:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 6 @ San Jose 9:30 P.M. FSN
Thur. 8 @ Los Angeles 9:30 P.M. FSN
Sat. 10 @ Phoenix 7:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 13 @ Winnipeg 7:30 P.M. FSN
WED. 14 CHICAGO 6:30 P.M. VERSUS
SAT. 17 N.Y. ISLANDERS 7:00 P.M. FSN
Mon. 19 @ Vancouver 9:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 20 @ Calgary 8:00 P.M. FSN
Thur. 22 @ Edmonton 8:30 P.M. FSN
MON. 26 COLORADO 5:00 P.M. FSN
Wed. 28 @ Nashville 7:00 P.M. FSN
THUR. 29 EDMONTON 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 31 PHOENIX 5:00 P.M. FSN
DAY DATE OPPONENT TIME (CT) TV
Wed. 4 @ Vancouver 9:00 P.M. FSN
Sat. 7 @ Calgary 9:00 P.M. FSN
TUE. 10 SAN JOSE 6:30 P.M. VERSUS
Thur. 12 @ Chicago 7:30 P.M. FSN
Sat. 14 @ St. Louis 7:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 17 @ Philadelphia 6:00 P.M. FSN
Thur. 19 @ Toronto 6:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 21 DALLAS 8:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 24 @ Colorado 8:00 P.M. VERSUS
Sun. 29 NHL All-Star Game (Ottawa) 3:00 P.M. VERSUS
TUE. 31 NASHVILLE 7:00 P.M. FSN
Thur. 2 @ Colorado 8:00 P.M. FSN
Sat. 4 @ Dallas 7:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 7 @ Columbus 6:00 P.M. FSN
THUR. 9 VANCOUVER 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 11 COLUMBUS 7:00 P.M. FSN
TUE. 14 ANAHEIM 6:30 P.M. VERSUS
THUR. 16 WINNIPEG 7:00 P.M. FSN
Sat. 18 @ St. Louis 1:00 P.M. FSN
SUN. 19 BOSTON 2:00 P.M. NBC
Thur. 23 @ Florida 6:30 P.M. FSN
Fri. 24 @ Dallas 7:30 P.M. FSN
SUN. 26 SAN JOSE 5:00 P.M. FSN
TUE. 28 LOS ANGELES 6:30 P.M. VERSUS
Thur. 1 @ Montreal 6:00 P.M. FSN
Fri. 2 @ Detroit 6:30 P.M. FSN
SUN. 4 COLORADO 6:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 6 @ Colorado 8:00 P.M. VERSUS
Thur. 8 @ Phoenix 8:00 P.M. FSN
SUN. 11 CALGARY 5:00 P.M. FSN
TUE. 13 DALLAS 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 17 CAROLINA 1:00 P.M. FSN
MON. 19 VANCOUVER 7:00 P.M. FSN
THUR. 22 CALGARY 7:00 P.M. FSN
Sat. 24 @ Buffalo 6:00 P.M. FSN
Sun. 25 @ Washington 4:00 P.M. VERSUS
TUE. 27 N.Y. RANGERS 7:00 P.M. FSN
THUR. 29 FLORIDA 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 31 LOS ANGELES 7:00 P.M. FSN
Sun. 1 @ Chicago 6:00 P.M. FSN
Tue. 3 @ Nashville 7:00 P.M. FSN
THUR. 5 CHICAGO 7:00 P.M. FSN
SAT. 7 PHOENIX 7:00 P.M. FSN
BOLD INDICATES HOME GAME
DATES AND TIMES SUBJECT TO CHANGE
(UPDATED WITH HEATLEY AND SETOGUCHI VIDEO LINK, FLETCHER TRANSCRIPT)
Afternoon. With the prospects down the hall being worked into a lather as they underwent physicals and fitness testing for the start of development camp, the Wild introduced Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi to the media today.
Both donned Wild sweaters for the first time and seemed genuinely excited to be here. They spent the last couple days looking for places to live, and it sounds like that'll be in Minneapolis.
Below are transcripts from their Q&A's with the media today, as well as GM Chuck Fletcher. Also, Vikings beat writer, hockey lover and Star Tribune All-Star Judd Zulgad came down to the rink to film a couple videos with yours truly.
The first video on Heatley and Setoguchi should be on startribune.com/wild later today. The other video, which looks ahead to next season and the new-look Wild, should be on in the next few days. So check those out.
And here's information on development camp. On-ice practices begin Tuesday. Roman Augustoviz will be down at the X for most of development camp as I begin taking time off. I'm out of town this weekend for my brother's bachelor party, so I will not be at the scrimmages. But definitely march down to the X and take advantage of your first glimpse at much of the Wild's future.
Also, lots of Wild prospects and invitees are on Twitter, so be sure to follow @kylemedvec, @mlucia1993, @zackphillips7 and @djaans6 (UMD's Derik Johnson).
Lastly, if you missed Episode 1 of "Becoming Wild" on FSNorth, here's a link to the episode on wild.tv
(nice to see new guys)
First time I had a chance to speak to both of them live and in person, and it’s exciting. They’re excited, and they’re here to check out the Twin Cities, find a place to live, and they both had a chance to sit down with Mike Yeo, which was great, and to start to get to know him a little bit. I know we’re a couple months away, but with prospects camp and those two guys in town, it certainly makes it pretty exciting.
(how can they help)
Score goals, and be good teammates. So I think Mike’s a pretty straightforward coach. He’s going to talk to them about what the foundation of their game is, and we want the guys to bring what they bring every night, and again chip in in the roles that they’ll be given and be good teammates. We’re looking forward to having a really good team this year in terms of chemistry in the room and cohesiveness on the ice and they’re going to be a good part of that.
(Seto says he likes to shoot)
Yeah, and we also want him to backcheck and get the puck out on the wall and do some things, too, but he shoots the puck and he’s done that his whole career and certainly we want him to continue to develop. He’s just 24 years old, so to me he hasn’t even come close to hitting the prime of his career and I’m excited to see what he’ll do in a priority role.
(when did you realize you needed this shooters)
I think everybody saw that last year, the last two years, and whether you were a fan or a coach or up in the press box eating popcorn I think clearly we didn’t score enough goals and we didn’t shoot the puck enough. There’s a direct correlation between shots on goal and goals scored, so we’re a team that’s going to put an emphasis on putting the pucks in the net, playing in the offensive zone and playing in traffic, getting to the net. Certainly both of those guys do things well in the offensive zone, and that’s why they’re here.
Certainly, you look at it, we’ve blown a pretty big hole on defense by losing Brent Burns. Brent was a very good hockey player for us, an All-Star defenseman, so certainly we paid a price to acquire some high-quality assets. I like the mix of our forwards much better. I think our defense is a lot younger, a little bit more unproven. I really believe training camp, training camp is important every year, but this year will be really important. I believe our team will get better every month, and we’ll be a better team at the end of the year than what we are at the beginning. I think some of the kids that are here this week in terms of our prospect camp, some of them coming into our program in Houston, our future is just going to get brighter, so we really do feel we’re at a point now where we’re just going to continue and build and get better, and how quickly we get better, remains to be seen. Training camp is going to be huge, and how quickly Mike can assimilate the new players into the program and introduce his system and get players to buy in, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us but I think we’re all excited about it.
They’re very good guys. Even Mike Lundin and Darroll Powe, I think all the additions we made this year, all the players are quality people. They are people that are regarded by their teammates as being good teammates, regarded by their teammates as being good teammates, regarded by the support staff as being good people to work around and work with, and we’re excited. You never know. We’re not asking everybody to be best friends. That doesn’t happen. But when they come to the rink, we want them to be pulling the rope in the same direction. It’s a corny saying, it’s a cliché, but when everybody is here believing if they play their role, they trust that their teammates will be playing their role, and everybody is playing the system and working hard every day, it’s amazing what you can do. I think people saw that the first few years of this franchise, the teams weren’t the most talented teams on paper, but they achieved and they played hard every night and good things happened. We want to get back to being a team that’s regarded as being a hard team to play against and a team that, again, every night you know what you’re getting, and that’s what we’re hoping to achieve.
Updated by Russo on bottom with KFAN-Wild release
Youngblood here. The biggest topic today, of course, is the growing list of injured players. The Wild was without several players today. Most were no surprise: Guillaume Latendresse, Nick Schultz, Cam Barker, Marek Zidlicky, Marco Scandella and Martin Havlat, for example. Latendresse (lower body), Barker (back), Schultz (post-concussion syndrome) and Scandella (broken finger) have previously been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season. Havlat, who took a big hit from Tampa Bay's Mattias Ohlund Saturday, has an upper body injury that will likely keep him out for the rest of the season as well.
The rest of them? Zidlicky (hamstring) didn't practice and might not make the upcoming road trip. Also missing practice Tuesday were goaltender Jose Theodore (leg), center John Madden (lower body) and winger Cal Clutterbuck (upper body).
Wild coach Todd Richards said that, with both Madden and Clutterbuck, their status for Thursday's game in Vancouver would become clear Wednesday. "Madden didn't play in Detroit," Richards said. "Clutterbuck, it's a little upper-body (injury). We'll have to re-assess them (Wednesday), see where they're at. For John, it was another day off, and for Clutter, this is really his first day off from practice."
My feeling was that one of the two would likely be available for the road trip. But even so, the Wild would have to make yet another call to Houston for a forward. The team would need to call two up should neither Madden nor Clutterbuck be available.
Richards described Theodore's injury as not particularly serious. "His leg was bothering him a little bit," he said. "Again, we'll re-assess him (Wednesday)."
Josh Harding was the second goaltender in practice today. Richards said that the large number of injuries that has beset the Wild over the past two seasons have prompted him to reconsider how the team approaches the training of its players. While it's true that many of the injuries that have cost the Wild -- including those to Harding and James Sheppard, for example -- are out of the team's control. Still...
"You think one year it's a little abnormal," Richards said. "You think, 'OK, we got bitten by the injury bug.' ''
But two consecutive seasons? "For me, moving forward, you have to take a serious look at, is this something we're doing? For me as a coach, and as an organization, meaning are we doing enough in the summertime staying on top of these guys so that when they come into training camp they're ready? And are we doing enough throughout the season. Again, certain injuries I don't think you can do a lot about. But I will sit and go back over it and see if there is something I can do."
That's about it for now. Have a good afternoon.
Lastly, here's the KFAN-Wild release
The Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League (NHL) today announced a new, three-year partnership with Clear Channel Communications to broadcast all preseason, regular season and Stanley Cup Playoff games on KFAN-AM 1130, beginning with the 2011-12 NHL season.
The new Clear Channel partnership will feature several Wild-related shows on KFAN, plus exposure on “Beyond the Pond”, as well as full promotional and marketing support on all the other Twin Cities Clear Channel stations including: Cities 97.1, KDWB, K102, KOOL 108 and KTLK. There will also be a pre-game show and post-game show, as well as a Wild Fan Line program after select games. Any preempted games will be heard on KOOL 108.
“It is an exciting day as the Wild joins forces with the Clear Channel Communications team and we look forward to an expanded radio partnership with KFAN,” Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka said. “With Clear Channel’s many growing media platforms, this partnership will provide Wild fans dependable, up-to-date news on the team and the best play-by-play coverage of Minnesota Wild hockey. The Wild would also like to thank WCCO Radio for their support over the organization’s first 11 years and wish them well moving forward.”
“Adding a strong franchise like the Minnesota Wild is the perfect complement to our existing relationships with the Minnesota Vikings and University of Minnesota. We are so excited to add Wild games along with their broadcasters to The Fan,” said Michael Crusham, President/Market Manager Clear Channel Radio in Minneapolis.
The Wild radio team of Bob Kurtz, Tom Reid and Kevin Falness will remain the same.
Clear Channel Minneapolis reaches more than 2.2 million listeners every week over the air, via the internet and through iheartradio.com.
Afternoon from the X, where I'm writing on my new laptop and watching the Calgary Flames skate below me. My thanks to our incredible technology department, especially Ed Schopf, who got me all up and running in an incredibly expeditious manner.
I played it cool the other night in Calgary, probably because that's not my worst laptop experience in that building. In January 1998, after Kirk Muller tied a game for the Panthers in the third period, Palm Beach Post's Brian Biggane jumped up to look at the replay and wrapped his foot around the phone line that was attached to my dial-up modem.
The plastic piece where the phone line was plugged in ripped off my computer and over the press box at about 1 a.m. ET.
I had to dictate my story to the Sun-Sentinel over the phone, basically winging the dictation because with the Muller goal, the entire game story changed.
OH, and in overtime, a streaker ran onto the ice!!! Poor Biggane. I never let him live this down.
Speaking of the Panthers, a secret Santa gave me a hilarious gift this morning in the locker room. It's a travel coffee mug with the Panthers' logo, pictures of Pavel and Valeri Bure, Counting Crows' Adam Duritz, an evil-smiling Kevin Falness and a few other shall-remain nameless photos. Very funny stuff, so thanks to whoever did that.
The Flames are in town to complete the home-and-home with the Wild, which may see its smallest crowd ever I'd suspect.
With the Vikings having a Monday night outdoor game and the forecast calling for a lot of snow and tough road conditions, it could make for a lot of no-shows.
All things are pointing toward a Nick Schultz concussion. He got elbowed in the head apparently by Calgary's Tom Kostopoulos the other night. I didn't see it because I had my head buried in my (Aaron Sickman's, actually) laptop, but Wild folks thought it was dirty and warranted a suspension. He wasn't suspended and like I said, I never saw it.
I did see Kostopoulos elbow Marek Zidlicky in the game for what I thought should have been a penalty and I did see Kostopoulos intentionally break Cal Clutterbuck's stick on a faceoff that undoubtedly should have been a penalty. Neither was called.
Hopefully Schultz isn't long-term or even a concussion. But they have to be careful. He missed the final three games of the 2008-09 season with a concussion.
The Wild will go with the same 12 forwards tonight and Nik Backstrom in goal.
With Schultz out, the Wild recalled rookie Marco Scandella from Houston. He was lucky. He got on a non-stop from Winnipeg to Minnesota yesterday and actually beat the Wild home.
It could have been a crazy travel day for Scandella if the Wild didn't get him on that non-stop because the Aeros flew from Winnipeg to Calgary to get back to Houston. And even though just by chance the Aeros and Wild bumped into each other at the Calgary airport, Scandella, due to immigration rules, would not have been allowed to get on the Wild's charter for Minnesota.
He would have had to fly back to Houston, then come back to Minnesota.
Aeros GM Jim Mill said Scandella's been outstanding down there. Scandella will stay with the Wild at least through the holidays, but unless there's a huge hit of injuries, Scandella will likely eventually wind up back in Houston. The Wild wants him to keep playing down there for development reasons; he's getting 20 minutes a night in all situations.
Coach Todd Richards was awesome talking about Jared Spurgeon today. Just great stuff, and that'll be in tomorrow's notebook.
Richards was also very happy with Clayton Stoner's game in Calgary, so tonight, the three rookies will dress with Brent Burns, Marek Zidlicky and Greg Zanon.
The one guy scratched: Cam Barker. He's back with the team after a quick return home for a personal reason, but the Wild is not happy with his play, Richards said.
He continues to be incredibly erratic. Perfect example: I thought he was real good in Phoenix and LA. I asked Richards about it before the Anaheim game, and he praised Barker's improvement very, very cautiously. I decided to play it safe, too, and not write about Barker in my game notebook in case his game hit the skids in Anaheim.
It did -- in dramatic fashion.
What else? Mill was great today giving a blue-line update on some of the guys down in Houston, like Nate Prosser and Tyler Cuma. So I'll write about that in tomorrow's notebook.
I don't know if I mentioned yet, but a censored version of HBO's 24/7 (three episodes left) is on NHL.com. Remember, the auction to benefit Jukka Nieminen's daughters is running on NHL.com til Dec. 30.
Also, "Russo Radio" this week is Wednesday night at 6, not tomorrow. Also, I'll be guest hosting for Joe Anderson from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 28 and 30, so we'll talk a lot of hockey on 1500 ESPN this month.
I think that's it for now. Talk to you tonight. Stay warm and stay out of ditches.
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