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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

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Wild update: Harding looks good, Bryzgalov wants to return, Yeo at State Fair, Ticket info

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: 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

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