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Wild places Patrick O'Sullivan on waivers; Theodore joins Backstrom on hip casualty unit

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • January 13, 2011 - 9:40 PM

Thursday night update: Just got home. Hopefully you follow me on Twitter and know this by now, but if not, I'm hearing the Wild will be recalling Matt Hackett to back up Khudobin against Colorado. Also hear the Wild will be bringing back defenseman Jared Spurgeon. The Wild originally returned him to Houston because they wanted him playing, not sitting, so I'd assume Spurgeon gets back into the lineup, perhaps for Cam Barker.

Newsy day down at the X as the Wild prepares to host Colorado Friday night.

We learned two big things: You can never have enough goaltending and Patrick O'Sullivan's chances are running out in the National Hockey League.

Jose Theodore didn't practice this morning and is questionable for the game against the Avalanche. Like Niklas Backstrom, Theodore has a hip injury. Coach Todd Richards said Anton Khudobin will more than likely start, and Theodore may back up if he feels OK.

I'd think you'd want him to rest like Backstrom (why use him as a back up?), so I can see a callup from Houston later on tonight or in the morning. But it doesn't sound like a major injury. Richards said he first became aware of the issue with Theodore in Pittsburgh, but he played and shut the Pens out. I thought I noticed Theodore smarting in the third period in Boston and made note of it on Twitter in a TV timeout.

This makes the decision to start Theodore in the second half of a back-to-back against Dallas on Sunday a curious one, especially in light of the Wild knowing he had a hip issue and Richards saying all day the day before that the team needed to be "smart" about its starting goalie decision against Dallas.

Richards said today: "Talking with him and talking with our trainers, he felt he was OK to play. And when players say they're OK to play, who's to say that they can't play?"

That's fine and dandy, but I will remind you Richards said before the Pittsburgh game even started that he guaranteed that no matter how the Pittsburgh game went, Theodore would tell him he could start vs. Dallas and that being the case, the staff would make the decision on the flight home.

But, hey, this is easy to say now. I'm sure Richards knew it would be a tough game for his team. Sorry, 7 p.m. game one night in Pittsburgh, 5 p.m. game the next night at home. Wild weren't going to have legs that night. Theodore's coming off a shutout and fourth straight Wild win. You want to continue the momentum, I'm sure.

Also, the Wild placed Patrick O'Sullivan on waivers this morning. I wrote Dec. 4 when he was scratched in Dallas that this is the way it would likely end for O'Sullivan here if he didn't pick up his game. Mental lapses (mostly in D-zone), no emotion, physicality, etc.

As Richards said today, "nothing changed."

Remember, the Wild only claimed O'Sullivan because it didn't know when Pierre-Marc Bouchard would return. If the Wild had known Bouchard would be back in the lineup seven days later, trust me, there would have been no way it would have claimed O'Sullivan

Richards: "It's the same, no different than what we've talked about in the past. He can do some good things with the puck, but in the hard areas, we need more of that on a consistent basis."

Richards says there was no "final straw," although O'Sullivan was terrible in Nashville. Three times he went to the net. Twice, Matt Cullen teed him up with a pass that he wasn't ready for, the other time he was late reacting to a rebound.

With Bouchard playing now, Richards said, "you have a lot of that on the wing, and we feel we need other things."

Richards said nothing's in the works though as far as an external move, but maybe there's somebody in Houston. Right now, Richards said he's comfortable with the 12 forwards going against Colorado (Staubitz back), but the Wild management just landed at their scouting meetings, they plan to meet this afternoon and may call up a forward.

Last week, GM Chuck Fletcher said Colton Gillies and Cody Almond have been playing well. Casey Wellman's hurt right now. But since the Wild wants other things (i.e. grit in hard areas), maybe Jed Ortmeyer, recently signed, gets a shot to make his Wild debut.

Like I said, I think the Wild call up a goalie eventually, too.

What now for O'Sullivan? He's on waivers 'til 11 a.m. Friday. Carolina, the team the Wild claimed him from, has first dibs at re-claiming him. If Carolina doesn't, the 28 other teams have a shot starting from last place to first. If he clears, the Wild will assign him to Houston.

Remember, waivers in the NHL is not "waived." The Wild didn't release him. Technically, if he clears, the Wild can keep him up. They're not going to do that though. Only way the Wild is getting rid of O'Sullivan here is if he refuses to go to Houston for reassignment.

O'Sullivan's on a two-way contract, so he doesn't get his NHL salary in Houston. But his chances are running out. Drafted by the Wild, traded to LA, traded to Edmonton, passed through waivers by Edmonton, traded to Phoenix and immediately bought out, signed by Carolina, placed on waivers by Carolina, picked up by the Wild, placed on waivers by the Wild.

This is the recipe for an eventual career in Europe.

Richards said the Wild is hoping Carolina or another team reclaims him, but if he gets to Houston, "then that's great for us."

Not much else going on. Wild will try Marco Scandella on the power-play point in an effort to get the power play going. It's hit the skids. Cam Barker was off the power play in practice today.

Richards, a Minnesotan, addressed the media wearing a Team Canada hat. He lost a world juniors bet to equipment manager Tony DaCosta, a Winnipeg native. If the US had beaten Canada, DaCosta would have had to paint his face.

Avs are practicing at the X now. I had to get out of there because I've got some stuff to do this afternoon. There's a chance Chris Stewart, who broke his hand in a fight with Kyle Brodziak in November, returns tomorrow. I'd say a very good one. Also, Cody McLeod is questionable with an injury and TJ Galiardi isn't practicing.

I'll be in contact with Denver Post's Adrian Dater this afternoon for Avs updates.

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