This is Michael Russo's 18th year covering the National Hockey League. He's covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005 following 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. Michael 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.
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Jonas Brodin, the youngest defenseman in the NHL at age 19, was arguably the biggest name snubbed as a Calder Trophy finalist this morning.
The finalists are Montreal's Brendan Gallagher, Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau and Chicago's Brandon Saad.
All of this season’s award winners will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, with more detail on format to be released at a later date.
You can arguably say no NHL rookie made as much of an impact as Brodin. Paired for most the season with veteran Ryan Suter, Brodin led all rookies in average ice time per game -- 23 minutes, 12 seconds, nearly two minutes over the next guy. He was fourth among Wild blue liners with 11 points in 45 games.
In the playoffs, Brodin ranks fifth among all NHLers at 28:54 a game (Suter leads at 32:42).
The NHL Awards will return to Las Vegas in June 2014.
Following is the schedule of announcements:
Tuesday, May 7 James Norris Memorial Trophy (top defenseman) *Ryan Suter should be a finalist if not the frontrunner
Wednesday, May 8 Vezina Trophy (top goaltender)
Thursday, May 9 Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as voted by NHLPA) **Ted Lindsay Award nominees will be announced by the NHLPA
Friday, May 10 Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player to his team)
Monday, May 13 General Manager of the Year Award
Tuesday, May 14 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey) *Josh Harding is the Wild's Professional Hockey Writers' Association (PHWA) nominee
Wednesday, May 15 Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward)
Thursday, May 16 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (skill/sportsmanship)
Friday, May 17 Jack Adams Award (top head coach)
Monday, May 20 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone (player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice)
We will get Mike Yeo in 15 minutes, but I am hearing the Wild will have a new fourth line this afternoon.
Zenon Konopka won't play and Stephane Veilleux will be inserted. The goal is clearly speed, energy and big hits.
Veilleux, called up twice in the past few weeks but scratched in both games, has played 460 regular-season games in the NHL and 11 playoff games for the Wild.
More after we talk to Yeo
Sadly, the Houston Aeros' season and their existence came to a painful end last night in Grand Rapids as the Griffins beat them 7-0.
The Aeros relocate to Des Moines, Iowa, next year. You've got to feel for their fans and those that work around the team and cover the team. For some coverage, see the great Heather Galindo's Twitter account at @hockeygalindo and @3rdIntermission.
Aeros play-by-play man Joe O'Donnell (@aero_joe) tweeted after the game: Aeros fall 7-0...the season is over, and depressingly, the franchise is as well... #thankyoufans #thankyouAeros AND That was, without question, one of the hardest things I've ever done in 8 years as a broadcaster.......
With the Aeros eliminated, the Wild can technically recall the entire team (current NHL contracts) to Minnesota if it so chooses.
As of now, most players are heading back to Houston to pack up, but I am hearing that three players have arrived or on their way to Minnesota.
Stephane Veilleux arrived last night and Mikael Granlund and Jake Dowell are on their way here now.
So I'd anticipate we may have some lineup changes today. No, before you email and tweet me incessantly, Justin Fontaine was not one of those brought up for some reason.
As of now, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is available at noon, but he said yesterday that Dave Bolland and Ray Emery are out.
As of now, there is no pregame access to Mike Yeo. I will let you know if that changes, but you may need to wait until warmups for the lineup.
I will post another blog with the lineup before the game. Enjoy the first home playoff game in five years today folks.
We have a ton of coverage for you in today's Star Tribune and on startribune.com/wild, but here is a fun read from Chip Scoggins on the 2003 team that rode to the Western Conference Finals.
Remember, the Wild will host a pregame party from 12-1:30 p.m. along the sidewalk between Gates 1 and 3 of Xcel Energy Center.
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