Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Zenon Konopka claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Sabres; Injury "updates"

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild practice Updated: January 3, 2014 - 1:36 PM

The Wild's Zenon Konopka was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Sabres.

Konopka, who signed a two-year deal with Minnesota in 2012, was claimed by the first team that had an option to take him (Buffalo's ranked 30th in the NHL) and the team closest to his hometown of Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario.

"It's 35 minutes from my hometown," Konopka said. "My mom was born in Buffalo, my grandparents, when they were alive, were from there, my aunt and uncle. The best call I made was to my aunt in the nursing home. She was telling everybody there, 'My nephew is going to play for the Sabres.'"

Here's a feature I wrote on Konopka in October.

Konopka has the top faceoff percentage in the NHL since he's been in the league and the most fights. Konopka was a fun guy to cover, always a great quote and a colorful character with all his business ventures, like ZK28 wines, and of course, his bunny rabbit, "Hoppy."

"I really enjoyed my time here," Konopka said. "I got so connected with the charities and the city and the people of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The toughest part of the whole thing is leaving this area. My time here was amazing, but this is the nature of the beast and I'll never forget my time here.

"I still plan to write that check to the Minnesota Wild Foundation [from his wine sales]."

Konopka gets to Buffalo late tonight and hopes to play vs. New Jersey tomorrow. We joked that maybe he'll get to play on the power play since John Scott does.

"I talked to Pat LaFontaine, and they value what I'm able to do on the ice and off," Konopka said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity."

The move clears almost $500K from the Wild's cap and opens up a roster spot if GM Chuck Fletcher wants to make a move. If the Wild runs into center problems, it has Torrey Mitchell up here or Jake Dowell or Erik Haula in the minors.

But coach Mike Yeo is real happy right now with Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund-Charlie Coyle-Kyle Brodziak up the middle. All four lines contributed last night.

Niklas Backstrom will start Saturday against the Washington Capitals. Josh Harding didn't practice again today. Yeo said Harding is still not feeling well. He offered no other details and says that as of now, nobody has told him this is anything beyond just an illness.

If Harding can't back up against the Caps, Darcy Kuemper will.

Jared Spurgeon didn't practice today for the second time in as many practices. He's been banged up, but he was great against Buffalo on Thursday, so we'll see if he'll be able to play again against the Caps. If he can't play, Keith Ballard will get back into the lineup after being scratched against the Sabres.

The Clayton Stoner-Nate Prosser pair was real good against Buffalo and maybe this is a chance for Prosser to get a string of games finally.

Lastly, Justin Fontaine got popped inadvertantly in a battle drill in practice. Fontaine left dazed and definitely hurt. Yeo had no update he would share but expects him to play. Like I said, he didn't look comfortable, so we will see. If Fontaine can't play, either Mike Rupp will slot in or the Wild will have to call up a forward.

That's it for now. Some good stuff from Brodziak on his "goal" last night. Those quotes will be in Saturday's paper. and he certainly had a sense of humor about the "goal." Talk Saturday unless there's news later today.


Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51


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