Just an update: I've been told by sources the Wild is working on a potential trade involving Benoit Pouliot to his hometown Habs. I'll update more when I can.
Update: According to sources, the Wild has traded Benoit Pouliot to the Montreal Canadiens for winger Guillaume Latendresse. Not approved yet by the NHL.
As reported on the previous blog, defenseman Brent Burns has been diagnosed with another concussion. I told a few people this weekend that I had a bad feeling the "illness" was going to turn out to be another one of those other "illnesses," especially when Friday night Burns' situation went from "undisclosed" to "illness."
The Wild didn't want to make an announcement of its suspicions until Burns was tested. If you remember, Burns was sidelined the final 19 games of last season (March 7 on) with a concussion, but it was an injury he was actually playing with since he said the first practice after the January All-Star Game.
The Wild believes the latest concussion was sustained early in Wednesday's game against Phoenix when he collided with a few teammates at the blue line, coach Todd Richards and GM Chuck Fletcher said.
Burns played the rest of the game with the injury, and in fact nearly tied the score in the final seconds with an extra attacker on.
Like Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who's only played one game this season, and Petr Sykora, who's missed the past six games since being hit in the head by Dallas' Steve Ott, a timetable for Burns is uncertain. You just don't know with head injuries, and you can bet the Wild will be very careful with Burns because of the recurring nature of the injury.
As of now, Fletcher said the Wild will go with the six defensemen that are here, meaning John Scott will be in the lineup to fill in for Burns. Fletcher says all the key defensemen in Houston are healthy. Clayton Stoner, whom I felt had a real strong camp, missed a game last week, but he's said to be OK now. There's also Jaime Sifers, who started the year with the Wild, and Justin Falk.
The shame is Burns' play had been improved of late after struggling early in the season. This is obviously a huge, huge loss for this already banged-up hockey club.
These concussions league-wide are getting scary. If you read my Sunday column a few weeks ago, I talked a lot about the Messier Project, which is a new helmet meant to absorb head hits and prevent concussions. A ton of youth teams and high schools here in Minnesota wear the helmet. In the NHL, six players -- SIX!!! -- wear them, including Stephane Veilleux.
Not that a different helmet would have prevented the concussions to Burns, Sykora and Bouchard, however. Obviously I don't know that. But Bouchard plans to give the helmet a test run upon his eventual return.
It had to be trimmed from today's story, by the way, but one reason Bouchard feels he's seen progress lately is a medication concussion expert James Kelly prescribed him with.
Kelly told Bouchard he needed to essentially shut off his brain to recover. Because Bouchard’s a light sleeper, Kelly prescribed him medication that places him into deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
“If I went to bed at 10, I’d usually wake up two or three times,” Bouchard said. “Now I’m able to get seven or eight straight hours of sleep.”
As for the rest of the injury updates, Chuck Kobasew (upper body) returned to practice today. He's still a question mark for Wednesday though. Martin Havlat skated on his own today and is day-to-day with a strained hamstring. Richards hopes Havlat will be able to practice Tuesday, but that's unknown right now. If Kobasew and Havlat can't play Wednesday, the Wild will have to recall a forward from AHL Houston because the Wild would be one forward short.
Andrew Ebbett did arrive today and looked awesome. He scored some sweet goals and had a ton of energy, so Richards was excited at least with Ebbett's first practice.
Benoit Pouliot remains sidelined with a jammed wrist. He still can't squeeze the stick.
Assistant coach Mike Ramsey was taken to a hospital last night not feeling well. It sounds like it may be a gall bladder problem, but thank goodness, Richards said he spoke with Rammer this morning and he's feeling better.
Cal Clutterbuck was banged up a number of times in practice after two collisions with Nick Schultz. Some funny lines from those exchanges will be in the Tuesday paper.
I mentioned in the paper Sunday, but if you didn't see, the Wild will have another father-son trip Jan. 2-5 with a home game vs. Brian Rolston and Jacques Lemaire's Devils and a game and two off days in Chicago. The Wild had a father-son trip three years ago, which was a fun time (trip to Universal Studios).
One of the neatest stories I've written at the Strib, I thought, was the round table I had with the dads of Wes Walz, Mark Parrish, P-M Bouchard, Kurtis Foster and Nick Schultz. Lots of laughs and cool stories. Sadly, Schultz's father, Robert, has since passed away. Just a really nice man.
The Wild also had a mother-son trip two years ago.
I chatted with Colton Gillies today. He felt terrible about Burns, his good friend and "big brother." I'll give an update on Colton's status this week (been banged up with a bunch of different things, but doing really well), and I'll also be doing a Sunday column that will talk a lot about Gillies' situation (recommend reading).
Speaking of Sunday column, I must have had a concussion and somehow let my fingers type that Marian Gaborik was drafted in '03 this past Sunday. He was obviously drafted in '00, so apologies for that careless mistake. But the point of the Sunday column is still the same.
OK, Rachel Blount is on Tuesday's practice. I'll be back Wednesday, Thanksgiving and through the weekend.