If you didn't see: Guillaume Latendresse column link is here
Good afternoon from gorgeous Vancouver, where there are no bad days.
View from my hotel room
I'll be on KSTP at 5:20 p.m. today with shock jock Michael Rand
Just returned from lunch, turned on the TV, searched for my poker hero Daniel Negreanu (not kidding) and ran into the Ottawa 67s-Mississauga playoff game on Rogers Sportsnet, so now I'm watching Tyler Cuma (2008 Wild first-rounder) play.
The kid's got a nasty shiner on his left cheek. Appears I'm just an idiot and all the 67s have something painted on their left cheeks.
"Everyone just forgets what kind of player this guy is," says the color guy. "Tyler Cuma is a tough, physical defenseman. He gets forgotten about in this Ottawa lineup."
Roamed around the renovated Vancouver Canucks locker room this morning and got to check in with Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk, a couple former Panthers players. Also chatted with Roberto Luongo, who turned 31 today, for awhile.
"Everytime I see you, it's before a bad game," he said to me.
True. He often struggles against the Wild. His .896 save percentage against the Wild is his second-worst. His 2.88 goals against average is sixth-worst, but second-worst in teams he's played 20 or more times (Colorado, 2.94).
And remember, Luongo's first-ever game in Minnesota was a 0-0 tie in 2000. Luongo earned his first shutout with Florida before his first win.
Pavol Demitra will play toniught. Mikael Samuelsson -- an old Panther, too -- will return. Former Wild defenseman Willie Mitchell is still out with a concussion and Canucks teammates say they don't even see him around. So that doesn't sound good for the tough dman, who is a free agent this summer. Mitchell was concussed by Evgeni Malkin, although a few games before Mitchell was crushed by Derek Boogaard and some Canucks writers suspect Mitchell actually was initially hurt on that hit.
Here's hoping Mitchell recovers well.
In other Canucks news, UFA-to-be Shane O'Brien is still out of the lineup for disciplinary reasons. He wasn't allowed on the recent road trip, instead put through a mini-camp ti shed some weight after he came late to a recent practice and gained a reputation as a Vancouver party boy,
He was apologetic today. Looking trimmer, O'Brien said, "I don't think I have issues. I'm a single guy and I like to go out and have a good time every now and then. Do I need to pick my spots better? Maybe. This time of year definitely. When you go through something like that, you look at yourself in the mirror.
"I need to realize how lucky I am to be in the NHL and the privilege it is and you've got to be ready to go every night. Some days, I take that for granted and maybe enjoy myself too much. That's just me, I guess."
He joked that he's been fighting his weight his entire career, but "If I ate like the media did on the plane, I wouldn't be in the league."
Hey, I hear ya.
As for Wild stuff"
-- Fire alarm at its hotel went off at 5 a.m. today.
-- Marty Havlat, who missed the San Jose loss with the flu, is back and John Scott is scheduled to be scratched.
-- Wade Dubielewicz was recalled because Anton Khudobin had his passport stolen from him coming home from the AHL All-Star Game in January. Somehow, even though the Wild wanted to get him a new one, that hasn't been done yet by his reps. So Khudobin, who already missed one callup because of it, misses another. So Khudobin misses a week of NHL salary and most importantly, a start Monday in Edmonton.
Hey, Dubielewicz was appreciative, saying two weeks salary in the NHL is two months in the minors and this will make the summer a little easier. How little confidence does the Wild have in Dubie? While making it clear Khudobin would have started in Edmonton, coach Todd Richards wouldn't commit to Dubielewicz starting tomorrow. He said Nik Backstrom would be assessed after tonight's game.
--Richards made very clear he's in it to win it the rest of the season and won't be throwing games or changing any tactics, like giving rookies Casey Wellman or Cody Almond more ice time or special teams.
-- Owen Nolan will play his 1,200th game tonight. I talked to him today about the future, so check that out in tomorrow's paper.
-- Chuck Kobasew, who has a sprained MCL, is on the trip to practice and is shooting to return in Calgary because "it's a big game," meaning a big game for the Flames' playoff hopes. He did say there's a possibility he'll have to have knee surgery after the season.
-- Almond is back home. He won the WHL title with Kelowna last season and much of his family, including parents, live there even though he's a Calgary boy. So this whole trip is a homecoming for him. He'll have a ton of friends and family at the games in Vancouver and Calgary.
OK, talk to you tonight.