Coach Todd Richards said this morning that it appears Antti Miettinen has a concussion stemming from Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown's hit to Miettinen's head Monday.
The Wild first thought he had an inner-ear infection. He had been complaining of a headache, but yesterday he showed up to the rink with vision problems. Now after being examined by the doctor, it's believed he's got symptoms of a concussion.
Miettinen played the rest of the game. Brown, who was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct, escaped further punishment from the NHL. There was debate as to whether Brown went shoulder to shoulder and then Brown's shoulder nailed Miettinen in the head or whether it was a direct blindside shot to the head.
Regardless, it was a head hit, one Richards called "dirty" today.
Richards was surprised Brown wasn't suspended: "You've got to protect the players."
After the game, Brown said he felt the hit was "clean from top to bottom."
So this puts Miettinen on the shelf indefinitely. Chuck Kobasew will continue to play on the right side of the Andrew Brunette-Mikko Koivu line. Kobasew, who scored a hat trick last season with those linemates, scored last night.
Cam Barker is ready to return to the lineup after missing three games with a groin strain. But with rookie defensemen Justin Falk and Clayton Stoner playing well and the Wild coming off a big win over Washington, Richards, like most coaches would be, sounded hesitant to fiddle with the lineup.
Speaking of Falk, GM Chuck Fletcher pulled him aside today and told him he can move out of the hotel and find a place. This doesn't mean Falk is here for good. You can never take your foot off the gas as a young defenseman. It just means the team's close to the 28-day rule of having to allow a player to get a permanent residency. But it's obviously a good sign that Falk's here to stay, and he's been Steady Eddie so far.
I'm writing about Falk for Saturday's paper. Just a great interview.
Guillaume Latendresse (groin) is out tomorrow. Richards praised the speed and energy that young forwards Colton Gillies and Casey Wellman gave the team yesterday. Richards said Gillies came up to him in practice just to tell him he'll be better Saturday against the Blackhawks.
Not an easy game to play yesterday for Gillies. Not only was it his first NHL game in about 18 months, but it was sorta like coming back from an injury. Remember, he was playing everyday in Houston, then comes up here and was scratched for four straight games before getting in the lineup. So he hadn't played a game in about two weeks.
Wellman was good yesterday, but he'll soon learn not to always defer to the veterans. He had some great shooting chances yesterday, especially on a 3-on-2 where he had Matt Cullen and Martin Havlat driving the net. Perfect chance to shoot, and either you score or a rebound may come out to one of your linemates. But he tried to cross a pass through a defenseman. That is very much like a young rookie, thinking, "I better give the puck to the NHLer."
I've seen it a million times.
Lastly, one issue that we'll have to pay attention to is the way Martin Havlat is accepted by his teammates since the article the other day. He didn't exactly ingratiate himself to some teammates with his agent's comments. Some players I know for a fact weren't happy, and today, captain Mikko Koivu absolutely cursed him out for about 30 seconds on the bench during practice.
Havlat didn't want to talk about it, but apparently Koivu slammed the door and dropped a bunch of water bottles. Havlat told him to pick them up. Havlat and Koivu confirmed this. Koivu picked up the water bottles, all right, but the entire time he launched into Havlat while the winger sat on the bench and Koivu was preparing for a drill from the ice. Koivu said it was no big deal. But this was not just a normal practice incident, trust me.