Tom Olmscheid, Associated Press
Latendresse calls himself symptom-free, wants to stay
- Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
- Star Tribune
- June 9, 2012 - 9:11 AM
Guillaume Latendresse isn't sure if his future is in Minnesota, but the Wild left winger says he's confident he can contribute to any team willing to give him a chance.
Latendresse, after being treated by a concussion specialist in Georgia who uses a contraption called a "GyroStim," has declared himself symptom-free from a concussion that destroyed his 2011-12 campaign. He said he can return to being the thunderous power forward who scored 25 goals in 55 games after a November 2009 trade from Montreal.
"It's like I never had any concussion," Latendresse said from his home in Montreal. "I feel 100 percent. I'm doing training like before. I have nothing. I can't even remember when my last headache was."
But that doesn't mean the Wild will re-sign Latendresse. While collecting $5 million, Latendresse has played only 27 of 162 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
The Wild would have to tender him a qualifying offer of $2.5 million by June 25 to retain his rights and make him a restricted free agent. That's unlikely. "I know I won't get a qualifying offer," Latendresse said. "I'm 100 percent sure about that. It's pretty obvious with my last two years."
But Latendresse says he's willing to "make it work for both sides" if the Wild wants him back.
His agent, Pat Brisson, and Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher met last week at the draft combine in Toronto and are supposed to talk again next week. Latendresse plans to come to Minnesota on June 20 to be cleared by team doctors.
"I just want to get a sense where he is healthwise and fitnesswise and mentally," Fletcher said. "He's shown he can be a good player when he's healthy and motivated, and that's the key. Is he healthy and is he motivated?"
The Wild will likely do one of two things: Cut Latendresse loose, which would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent July 1; or sign him to a one-year contract that includes games played and performance bonuses.
There are only three cases where NHLers can receive performance bonuses: 1) entry-level deals; 2) a one-year deal for a player 35 or older; 3) a player who spent 100-plus days on injured reserve in the final year of his previous contract.
Latendresse meets that final threshold.
"I'm 25, I'm young, I have a good season behind me, I know I can bring something to a team," Latendresse said. "It's just who's going to give me a chance to do it. If it's Minnesota that wants me back, I'll be happy there. I like the city, I like the organization there, I like the coaching staff. So I'd find a way to make it work."
In April, Latendresse began being treated by chiropractic neurologist Ted Carrick, the same doctor who treated Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby, in Marietta, Ga.
Carrick uses a GyroStim, a multi-axis rotating chair that spins in an attempt to stimulate the vestibular system. Latendresse did 60-70, 30-second spins during a five-day stretch.
"The first time I went there, I saw a huge change," Latendresse said. "I felt a real click that I haven't felt since five, six years ago. My energy level is higher. My body just feels 100 percent."
Latendresse believes so strongly in Carrick's treatment, he brought Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who has a history of concussions and missed the second half last season, with him to Marietta in late May.
Fletcher has yet to see a medical report from Carrick, so the GM wants to review that and hear from the Wild doctors before any decision is made on Latendresse.
"Basically, I just want to feel confidence," Latendresse said. "I know it's hard for [the Wild] to give confidence to me because I've been injured the last few years, but in my head, I know if I don't get hurt, I can be a 25-, 30-goal scorer.
"I'm not nervous about it. I'm really confident about what I can bring to a team, especially the way the game is played now with how the big players are doing the big difference now. The game is played around the boards and the net, and I know that's my game. All I'm asking for is a team that's going to give me confidence, that's going to make me feel the way that I felt when I got traded to Minnesota. I know it's hard for them to do it, but that's all I need."
Fletcher said he plans to talk with agent Craig Oster about potential free-agent goalie Josh Harding next week. If Harding chooses to test free agency, the Wild will look to sign a backup goalie.
"That's more Josh's call," Fletcher said. "He's kind of in the driver's seat if he wants to go somewhere or pursue something here."
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