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Wild notes: Veilleux, McLeod will renew their comical 2008 rivalry

  • Article by: Michael Russo
  • Star Tribune
  • April 16, 2014 - 6:53 AM

When you think about funny Stephane Veilleux moments with the Wild, two come to mind.

One is when the Wild winger was shown on the “Kiss Cam” in Phoenix. Much to the delight of the crowd, Veilleux stood up on the bench and gave teammate James Sheppard a peck on the helmet.

The other was the Cody McLeod incident during Game 4 of the 2008 playoffs in Denver. After a scrum in front of the Wild’s bench, Colorado Avalanche agitator McLeod and Veilleux were each penalized.

From his penalty box, McLeod began screaming at Veilleux in the opposite penalty box. Finally, Veilleux grew tired of the chirping and began to exaggeratedly mock McLeod by mimicking his lack of front teeth.

“It got heated,” Veilleux said, laughing. “I can’t remember what he was saying, but what was funny is it got to the point where he almost started laughing himself. Every now and then, there will be some random family weekend during the summer, and my friends and family will put on the YouTube video.

“It’s pretty funny.”

Veilleux and McLeod will have a chance to exchange pleasantries again during these playoffs. Veilleux has since returned to the Wild and is expected to skate on the fourth line in Game 1 on Thursday and McLeod continues to be a constant in Colorado’s lineup.

“I’m sure there will be different shifts in the series where we’ll reunite,” Veilleux said. “I’m sure there will be times where we’ll need to throw some hits, create some momentum and play whistle to whistle. Whatever happens, happens. I’m sure they’re ready, and we’re ready on our side as well.”

Fourth line set

Veilleux will skate on a line with rookie Erik Haula and Cody McCormick. Haula was bumped down to the fourth line because center Mikael Granlund is expected to return from a head injury Thursday and return to his second-line spot alongside Matt Moulson and Jason Pominville.

“I felt really good,” Granlund said.

Judging by Tuesday’s practice, Dany Heatley, who leads all Wild players in playoff scoring with 57 points in 66 games, will be a healthy scratch, as will Justin Fontaine.

Coach Mike Yeo believes the fast, energetic fourth line will be able to bring momentum against the Avalanche. If Fontaine doesn’t play three games in the playoffs, he will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Kuemper close

Goalie Darcy Kuemper, who was injured in practice March 31, practiced for the first time Tuesday.

“I felt pretty good,” Kuemper said. “I didn’t feel that rusty. I think I’m definitely close right now. It’s never easy to watch, especially this time of year.”

Yeo didn’t know yet if Kuemper or John Curry would back up Ilya Bryzgalov on Thursday, but the Wild plans to travel with four goalies (Josh Harding as well) during the playoffs.

“We’re all hopeful that that’s never called upon,” Yeo said of playing one of the backups. “Crazier things have happened. We saw Game 1 last year.”

Yeo said that with a chuckle. It was reference to last season when Niklas Backstrom was injured in warmups and Harding suddenly was thrust into the Wild’s No. 1 position.

Etc.

• Defenseman Keith Ballard (groin) practiced. Fellow blueliner Jon Blum looks as if he will be a healthy scratch Thursday as Yeo goes with a Clayton Stoner-Nate Prosser third pair.

• Games 1 through 4, at least, will be televised on Fox Sports North.

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