(NOTE typo fixed)
Update from across the Wild's locker room, where I've taken over the wive's room inside Xcel Energy Center.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard's rehab assignment to Houston will have to wait. Bouchard, who hasn't play a hockey game since Opening Night last season due to a concussion and subsequent post-concussion syndrome, had a conversation with Denver-based Dr. James Kelly on Thursday. Bouchard told the concussion specialist what he's been telling us for months. He still has a certain pressure in his head, sometimes immediately after workouts, sometimes late in the afternoon, sometimes at night.
He's complained about this symptom since I talked to him on the phone in June, although he said it HAS gotten better. Kelly has "strongly recommended" to Bouchard to "hit pause." That doesn't mean he's been shut down. Bouchard is allowed to continue to work out and practice normally (includes contact) with the Wild, but until he strings some days together without symptoms, he's not able to take the next step and play some games.
Here's the quotes:
Coach Todd Richards
Butch spoke with Dr. Kelly yesterday and Butch is still having some symptoms – pressures – after workouts. Dr. Kelly said since he’s not symptom-free after these workouts, it’s best to hit pause right now on where he’s at. We don’t believe it’s a step back, Dr. Kelly doesn’t believe it’s a step back. We’ve made tremendous strides from where we were at the beginning with this. We’ve progressed very nicely. Right now, we just got to hit pause. He can continue to do the things he’s been doing right now as far as being part of practice and doing drills, but as far as taking the next step going to Houston or getting into games, we’re just going to have wait until Butch feels symptom-free.
It’s disappointing, but it’s part of the process. you don’t want to risk a player’s health. This is how he feels right now. Listen, he’s taken tremendous strides to get to this point. The only reason why I’m disappointed is you know what he can bring to your team. Right now we’ll just have to wait. we want him back 100 percent and ready to go.
Everything’s the same where we’re at. We aren’t taken a step back. He’s been practicing. he’s been taking part of every drill, whether it’s contact or speed. We’re just going to hit pause, continue to work everyday and hopefully get better. when we can string some days together where he’s symptom-free, then we’ll be ready to take the next step.
I truly believe we’re getting close, I really do. Last year, where we were at, you’re like, ‘I don’t think we’re going to see him for the rest of the year.’ I really believe that we’re close. I think he senses that, too.
I was on the phone with him for a good 10, 15 minutes yesterday. We talked about how I felt during practice, after practice. He gave me advice and strongly recommend that I take a little bit more time before getting back and playing some games.
So you can continue doing what you were doing? Yes. Because, during practice, I feel decent, I feel OK. So he said, ‘Make sure your symptoms don’t get worse. If they don’t get worse, you can keep doing what you’ve been doing.’
Extra cautious? I don’t think I’ve been extra cautious. I think I’ve been cautious. It’s a serious injury. It’s not like a knee or a shoulder. It’s my head. I’m not symptom-free after practice. I’ve got to make sure I’m able to go a few days without symptoms, and then I’ll be able to play.
Still the same pressure you’ve been talking about? Yeah, just a little pressure afterwards. Sometimes it’s right after practice or sometimes it’s late afternoon or at night. It changes all the time. So it’s not really a step back. I’ve been making a lot of progress over the last year and over the last few weeks. So for sure, I would like a different discussion with Dr. Kelly, but I’m staying positive that I’ll be back soon.
You’ve said you wonder if it’ll ever go away. Do you still worry about that? No. I’m pretty confident it’s going to go away. I’ve been feeling way better. … So, I feel confident it’s going to go away.
Did you feel this would probably be the outcome? I was ready for everything. I was hoping he’d tell me it was maybe normal that I can go through it and also in the back of mind, ‘be ready if he tells you that you’re not ready and have to take a little more time.’ So I was ready for both options.
Back live to Russo,
We'll see where this goes. Richards and Bouchard say it's not a step back, but like I said on top, Bouchard has been complaining about this pressure since late spring and it hasn't gone away. So that to me would be a big concern and makes the timetable as to when we'll see Bouchard again in a jersey for real extremely uncertain.
Guillaume Latendresse is week to week with abdominal issues and Antti Miettinen's out with a concussion, so the Wild suddenly has three minor-league players up here.
That puts the Wild $300,000 from the $59.4 million salary cap because their full cap hits count. Now if the Wild gets some players back, the Wild would reassign some of these guys and they'd come off the cap except for their daily rates.
So it's not the biggest deal. But as of now, one more injury and no returned players mean the Wild will likely have to place Josh Harding or Pierre-Marc Bouchard on long-term injury reserve in order to spend up to their cap hit over the cap. Of course, the Wild would then have to get back below the cap if they came back. And if the Wild places them on LTIR, I doubt it'd be for the purpose of getting another, say, $4 million player in the case of Bouchard anyway. It would be to just be able to call players up from the minors in case of injuries.
As for tonight's lineup, Marek Zidlicky skated this morning but is a game-time decision with a lower body injury. If he can't play, Clayton Stoner will.
Cody Almond will make his season debut and Matt Kassian his NHL debut.
Andrew Brunette-Mikko Koivu-Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Cullen (moving to LW)-Kyle Brodziak-Martin Havlat (remember Havlat and Brodziak meshed last season)
Eric Nystrom-John Madden-Casey Wellman
Matt Kassian-Cody Almond-Brad Staubitz
Richards said the plan is to start Jose Theodore for the second time this season tomorrow night in Columbus.
As for Calgary news, Steve Staios, who's been a scratch for the Flames, will play tonight for Brendan Mikkelson. And Curtis Glencross is hurt, and former Florida Panther draft pick Stefan Meyer will play for him.
Talk to you tonight.