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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Granlund to stay in Finland next season; 'Hitch' added to vast coaching list; Aeros Preview

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild off-season news Updated: May 20, 2011 - 9:53 AM

 

Couple articles in Friday's paper:

1) Mikael Granlund's agent tells me he is staying in Finland next year. The article is here

2) The Wild's received permission to talk to longtime NHL coach Ken Hitchcock. That article is here

"Hitch" joins Craig MacTavish and Michel Therrien as the veteran coaches out there who are bona fide candidates.

GM Chuck Fletcher has interviewed others and will interview others. I mentioned Kirk Muller and Mike Yeo in the story, but other coaches not mentioned in the article who could potentially be candidates include Chicago assistant Mike Haviland, Portland coach Kevin Dineen, former Florida coach Pete DeBoer and former Islander coach Scott Gordon.

I've been hearing a bunch of names, but instead of shooting darts at a dartboard, I'm doing my best to narrow the names down and try to figure out the legit candidates and report those.

This may seem like a slow process, but Fletcher has been multi-tasking between scouting meetings, the Aeros and sadly, some of the tragedies that have taken place lately inside the Stoner and Boogaard families.

Remember, none of the five coaching vacancies has been filled.

I hear Therrien has talked to New Jersey, too, and I do think he's a much bigger Wild candidate than I originally thought. Hitchcock has a couple management opportunities, but knowing Hitch, you can bet he wants to coach. Dallas and New Jersey should also go after him. Muller should be up for Dallas and New Jersey, too. Florida has interest in Dineen, John Torchetti, and I hear, Claude Noel. If Noel went there, you can bet Todd Richards would follow as an assistant. Columbus and Detroit also have assistant vacancies now, meaning Richards could be candidates there, and if Muller leaves Montreal, another assistant vacancy opens.

Ottawa appears to have great interest in Mississauga's Dave Cameron and Grand Rapids, Minn., native Kurt Kleinendorst, their minor-league coach in Binghamton.

3. The Globe and Mail reports Winnipeg/Atlanta relocation is done with an announcement coming Tuesday. Denials came out rapidly from everywhere last night, but it's become abundantly clear that this thing's going to happen. The next story afterward would be realignment, and how it affects the Wild. As I reported the other day and Michael Rand wrote yesterday, Wild has been all but promised it'd wind up in the Central -- eventually.

There's a chance things would remain status quo divisionally next year, but ultimately Columbus or Nashville most likely would move to the East, the Wild to the Central and the Winnipeg XXXXXXX's to the Northwest.

4. To clarify one thing on the Johan Larsson blog yesterday, I wrote Larsson would be at the Wild's training camp once his contract his finalized. Because the Swedish League starts so early, the Wild would first have to negotiate the dates for Larsson to come to camp, which it plans to do.

5. Update: After getting smoked 8-1 in Game 4, the Houston Aeros hope to close out Hamilton tonight to advance to the Calder Cup Finals and avoid a return home for Game 6. Patrick O'Sullivan is questionable after getting rocked by Alex Henry the other night. Patrick O'Sullivan at the morning skate and will play, says GM Jim Mill. Brett Bulmer is also hurt, and I believe Carson McMillan is too (McMillan out). The game is at 6:30 CT and can be watched at ahllive.com ($10.99) or listened to on aeros.com (free).

Here's the Game 5 preview

6) Word is Finnish Army Private Mikko Koivu slept in a tent in the woods last night. .

 

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