Russo: Harding looks good, Bryzgalov wants to return, Yeo at State Fair
- Blog Post by: Michael Russo
- August 21, 2014 - 11:59 AM
Going to the Minnesota State Fair? Toss this in your calendars: Wild coach Mike Yeo will visit the Star Tribune booth on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 1:30 p.m.
On the back patio of our booth, I will conduct a Q and A with Yeo regarding the upcoming season. If you attend, please come on by and you can even ask a question yourself. Or, if you cannot attend, tweet me at @russostrib that morning and I’ll try to ask Yeo your question. The Q and A will be streamed live on www.startribune.com/wild.
If you have attended these in previous State Fairs with Yeo or GM Chuck Fletcher, it’s always a good, candid chat and fun time for the many who attend, so please join. You can even get free Star Tribune Chap Stick!
I will also be broadcasting with Paul Allen at the KFAN booth at 9:55-10:55 a.m. Friday, August 29, so stop on by.
--Speaking of the Wild, the team just announced that preseason single-game tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. Regular-season single-game tickets will go on sale Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center’s box office and noon at Ticketmaster and all other locations. Tickets start at $32. The team also announced the return of the five-game pack. Those are available at the State Fair and wild.com/5game.
--Throughout the Twin Cities, the pre-training camp skates run by Octagon (Ben Hankinson and Chris McAlpine) and Neil Sheehy have started. Those include Wild players and Minnesota-based NHLers, college players and some elite high school players. I checked out the Octagon skate a few times this week and players like Zach Parise, Josh Harding, Keith Ballard, Ryan McDonagh, Dustin Byfuglien, Derek Stepan, Ryan Malone, Matt Carle, Ryan Jones, Alex Goligoski, Clayton Stoner, Stephane Veilleux, Matt Cooke, Matt Hendricks, Drew Stafford, Kyle Okposo, Tim Jackman, John Scott, Mark Alt, Nate Condon, Davis Drewiske were there. Sorry if I missed a few. I was also impressed young Wild players like Christian Folin and Kurtis Gabriel are already in town.
“I just want to get used to everything and give myself the best possible chance [to make the team],” Folin said.
“I want to be the best I can be,” Gabriel said.
Malone looked good and with his legal issues soon behind him from Tampa, one would think somebody signs him (Rangers have talked to him) or he attends a training camp on a tryout.
--The guy who looked really good was Harding. He hasn’t played an NHL game since Dec. 31, so it was a good sign to see him back on the ice and looking like he hasn’t missed a beat. Remember, he led the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage last year. If you remember, he was practicing every day of the Chicago series, so he was close to returning last postseason. Health-wise now, he says he feels great and on the ice, he looks great.
So, that’s a good sign. Fletcher also said last week that Nik Backstrom continues to feel good and should be ready to go when camp begins Sept. 18.
--All this is interesting because durable veteran Ilya Bryzgalov, who went 7-1-3 down the stretch of the regular season to help the Wild make the playoffs (lone regulation loss was that meaningless finale vs. Nashville), wants to return to the Wild, his agent tells me.
“Ilya would very much like to return to the Wild and further the success the team had down the stretch last year,” agent Ritch Winter said. “It was one of the most satisfying experiences he has had in his career.
“Ilya loved his teammates in Minnesota, loved the city and loved and appreciated the support he received from the coaching staff and Wild fans. He would love to be a part of helping this team to enjoy the success they had together last year.
“He has instructed me to do all I can to facilitate a return to the Twin Cities even if it requires him to compromise somewhat to accommodate the budget issues facing the team if that becomes a possibility.”
The issue is roster room. Harding assures Fletcher he is ready to go. Same with Backstrom. Right now, Darcy Kuemper remains unsigned, but the Wild is working toward re-signing him.
Fletcher has great respect for Bryzgalov, but he has said that with Harding, Backstrom and eventually Kuemper occupying three of the 23-man roster, it’s tough to simply sign Bryzgalov.
From the previous blog, Fletcher said he intentionally communicated with Backstrom and Harding to make sure they were OK and there were no issues he was unaware of in case he needed to react and address the situation by signing Bryzgalov or somebody else.
But Fletcher said, “everything’s a go with both goalies” and “this is how we’re going to start.”
“If something happens, like any player at any position, we’ll react,” Fletcher continued. “There’s always a way to react if you need to, but at this point, we’re comfortable with our situation. They’re quality goaltenders and I’m not losing any sleep over it. We have confidence in them and this is how we’re going to start. There’s no reason to doubt their ability. If they’re healthy, we’ll be fine. And God forbid if a situation happens like last year, then we’ll deal with it. We have three goalies. It’s not like we have one. We have three. We feel we have depth, quality and quantity, and there’s just no reason to doubt the players that are there.”
For Fletcher’s full quotes, see the previous blog.
So, right now, Winter will continue to talk to Fletcher, but if all the goalies remain healthy, Fletcher may be unwavering here.
-- On Sept. 6 at Fogerty Arena at 6 p.m., there will be an NHL Alumni Game to honor Wyatt Klute, a 14-year-old freshman at Blaine who has been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma. For more information on the game, go to http://www.wyattklute.com
--Here is the Wild's Fox Sports North broadcast schedule for this upcoming season:
2014-15 Minnesota Wild – FOX Sports North Schedule
Date Day Opponent Time
Oct. 11 Saturday at Colorado 8:00pm
Oct. 17 Friday at Anaheim 9:00pm
Oct. 19 Sunday at Los Angeles 2:00pm
Oct. 23 Thursday Arizona 7:00pm
Oct. 25 Saturday Tampa Bay 7:00pm
Oct. 27 Monday at NY Rangers 6:00pm
Oct. 30 Thursday San Jose 7:00pm +
Nov. 1 Saturday Dallas 7:00pm
Nov. 4 Tuesday Pittsburgh 7:00pm
Nov. 6 Thursday at Ottawa 6:30pm
Nov. 8 Saturday at Montreal 6:00pm +
Nov. 11 Tuesday at New Jersey 6:00pm
Nov. 13 Thursday Buffalo 7:00pm
Nov. 15 Saturday at Dallas 1:00pm
Nov. 16 Sunday Winnipeg 4:00pm
Nov. 20 Thursday at Philadelphia 6:00pm
Nov. 22 Saturday at Tampa Bay 6:00pm +
Nov. 24 Monday at Florida 6:30pm
Nov. 26 Wednesday Los Angeles 7:00pm
Nov. 28 Friday at Dallas 7:30pm +
Nov. 29 Saturday St. Louis 7:00pm
Dec. 3 Wednesday Montreal 6:00pm
Dec. 5 Friday Anaheim 7:00pm +
Dec. 9 Tuesday NY Islanders 7:00pm
Dec. 11 Thursday at San Jose 9:30pm
Dec. 13 Saturday at Arizona 7:00pm
Dec. 16 Tuesday at Chicago 7:30pm
Dec. 20 Saturday Nashville 7:00pm
Dec. 23 Tuesday Philadelphia 6:00pm +
Dec. 27 Saturday Winnipeg 6:00pm
Dec. 29 Monday at Winnipeg 7:00pm
Dec. 31 Wednesday at Columbus 6:00pm
Jan. 2 Friday Toronto 7:00pm
Jan. 3 Saturday at Dallas 7:00pm
Jan. 8 Thursday Chicago 7:00pm
Jan. 10 Saturday Nashville 1:00pm
Jan. 15 Thursday at Buffalo 6:00pm
Jan. 17 Saturday Arizona 8:00pm
Jan. 19 Monday Columbus 7:00pm
Jan. 20 Tuesday at Detroit 6:30pm
Jan. 27 Tuesday at Edmonton 8:30pm
Jan. 29 Thursday at Calgary 8:00pm
Feb. 1 Sunday at Vancouver 2:30pm
Feb. 7 Saturday Colorado 7:00pm
Feb. 9 Monday Vancouver 7:00pm
Feb. 10 Tuesday at Winnipeg 7:00pm
Feb. 12 Thursday Florida 7:00pm
Feb. 14 Saturday Carolina 7:00pm
Feb. 16 Monday at Vancouver 9:00pm
Feb. 18 Wednesday at Calgary 8:30pm
Feb. 20 Friday at Edmonton 8:00pm+
Feb. 24 Tuesday Edmonton 7:00pm
Feb. 28 Saturday at Colorado 9:00pm
Mar. 3 Tuesday Ottawa 7:00pm
Mar. 5 Thursday at Washington 6:00pm
Mar. 6 Friday at Carolina 6:00pm
Mar. 8 Sunday Colorado 5:00pm
Mar. 10 Tuesday New Jersey 7:00pm
Mar. 13 Friday Anaheim 7:00pm
Mar. 14 Saturday at St. Louis 7:00pm
Mar. 17 Tuesday at Nashville 7:00pm
Mar. 19 Thursday Washington 7:00pm
Mar. 21 Saturday St. Louis 1:00pm
Mar. 23 Monday at Toronto 6:30pm
Mar. 24 Tuesday at NY Islanders 6:00pm
Mar. 27 Friday Calgary 7:00pm+
Mar. 28 Saturday Los Angeles 7:00pm
Apr. 2 Thursday NY Rangers 7:00pm
Apr. 4 Saturday Detroit 6:00pm
Apr. 6 Monday Winnipeg 7:00pm
Apr. 9 Thursday at Nashville 7:00pm
+ airs on FOX Sports North Plus
All Times Central
Schedule Subject to Change
© 2014 Star Tribune