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.
After being in a sour mood for about two months (which not so coincidentally is the exact timeframe of the NHL lockout now), I'm actually in a jolly mood this afternoon because I'm a few hours from heading to the Bruce Springsteen concert.
If you can stomach more lockout talk (whining), I'll be filling in for Paul Allen on Wednesday from 9 to noon on KFAN (100.3-FM). I'm lining up an entertaining show, and I promise it won't be all NHL. It'll be Gophers hockey, too, with a little Wolves and Vikings and other goodies sprinkled in.
Speaking of the Gophers, the 6-2-1 squad (3-2-1 in the WCHA, 1-0-1 at Alaska Anchorage this past weekend) dropped from No. 2 to 3 in the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. The University of Denver (7-1) hopped over them with Boston College being No. 1.
In the USCHO poll, North Dakota is 6, Colorado College is 14, St. Cloud State is 15, and Nebraska-Omaha is 18. In the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, UND is 5, CC is 14 and St. Cloud State is 15.
Reminder also, if you want to get a pro hockey fix, the Houston Aeros, who boast a number of prospects including Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Zack Phillips and Brett Bulmer, come to town Sunday to play Rockford at Xcel Energy Center at 5 p.m.
Jonas Brodin is out with a broken collarbone, and Mikael Granlund has been ruled out with a sprained ankle.
Aeros players will sign autographs after the game for 30 minutes.
The Wild will conduct the seventh annual Toyota Food Drive to benefit Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger-relief organization. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and/or monetary donations to Gates 1, 2 and 5 at 4:00 p.m. and continuing through the start of the first period.
Wild season ticketholders can contact their account representative to receive complimentary tickets to the game equal to the number of Wild seats they hold. Tickets for the Aeros game are $20 and are on sale at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, www.wild.com, www.aeros.com and at all Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com) locations or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.
Wild prospect Tyler Graovac, who leads the Ontario Hockey League with 18 goals, can be seen tonight again on the NHL Network in the Subway Super Series against Russia at 8 p.m.
The Western Hockey League All-Stars face Russia on Wednesday and Thursday nights, so you can see Matt Dumba, the Wild's 2012 first-rounder who is an assistant captain.
Also on the NHL Network tonight is the Hall of Fame induction.
Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, Mats Sundin and Adam Oates are being enshrined. I was fortunate enough to cover Bure, who scored 58 and 59 goals during consecutive years when I covered the Panthers. By far, the Russian Rocket was the most electrifying and fascinating players I have ever covered. He was a man of intrigue, that's for sure.
One day hopefully we'll get to see the NHL again. I'm not convinced it'll be any time soon though.
There's a schism between the two sides right now and it's pretty poisonous. The NHL wants to go to 50-50 and "Make Whole," and the NHLPA wants guaranteed $1.9 billion-plus next year (more than last year's share when revenue will decrease who knows because of this lockout) and an increase for the four subsequent years of the deal.
The NHL is unwilling to budge on contractual restrictions, Donald Fehr says.
Here is NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr talking today in a Canadian Press report.
Evening from inside the Corral, which houses the press room for the world junior championships. The tournament's a stone's throw across the street at the Saddledome.
Canada won the bronze this afternoon with a 4-0 win over Finland. The Finns didn't compete for two periods and just didn't have the depth to battle the Canadians.
Mikael Granlund, the Wild's 2010 first-rounder, called it a "big disappointment," especially after holding a 2-0 lead in Tuesday's semifinal before losing in a shootout to Sweden. But, "life goes on."
Couple quick things:
1. Granlund reiterated to me again, I think for the third time in 14 months, that Wild fans shouldn't be worried and that his intention is to sign with the Wild after his season. The Wild loses his rights if he's unsigned by June 1.
Remember, though, he doesn't become a free agent. He'd have to re-enter the draft, so what would be the advantage? He can't make a cent more. And he wouldn't control where he'd end up, so you re-enter the draft, and next thing you know, you're on Long Island (OK, Islanders fans, email me).
But my point is I just don't buy that there's any funny business going on here. But hey, until he's signed, of course there's going to be concern. But again, it's a pretty simple negotiation. Give him the max rookie salary and signing bonus and work out the bonus structure.
By the way, he can't be signed now anyway. You can't sign European amateurs until March 1, but if that player is going to be called upon by his Federation to play in the world championships, you can't sign that player until after that tournament. So there likely won't be any official Granlund news until May.
Sooooooo, leave me alone on Granlund until then.
All indications are he wants to be in Minnesota. I mean, he looks up to Mikko Koivu. The Wild treats him like gold. He was more than willing to take part in the Wild's Fan Fest before his brother, Markus, was drafted in June. He returned a few weeks later to take part in the Wild's development camp. There are a lot of Scandinavians in Minnesota. The weather's great. He loves walleye. He likes ice fishing. He hates Dunkin Donuts. He thinks the "Ohhh, yah," in the Minnesota accent is sexy. He lives for the Mall of America. He's glad the Vikings hired a GM ...
And he knows he'll be on the team next year.
Speaking of Koivu: The Wild captain called Granlund yesterday to try to lift his spirits after the puck rolled off his stick in Tuesday's shootout to advance Sweden to the gold-medal game, which is in less than an hour. I'll have some neat quotes from the two of them in tomorrow's Star Tribune.
Buy it. It's good.
OK, I'm going to run back to the Saddledome to watch Jonas Brodin, Johan Larsson and Johan Gustafsson. Chatted with Sweden GM Johan Garpenlov, and he raved about the Wild's Swedes.
On the Wild front, Nate Prosser was reassigned. The Wild practiced for 45 minutes in Banff today. It canceled its curling outing. And it has a team dinner.
I'll head to Banff in the morning to cover practice. Good evening.
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.
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