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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Development camp continues, open scrimmages this weekend; Charity hockey game July 20

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 14, 2011 - 2:49 PM

Morning. I'm about to head out of town, but I wanted to toss up one more blog to hold you over.

--Updated, but here's a video Judd and I filmed looking ahead to next season.

-- For development camp updates and blogs, please follow www.twitter.com/romanstrib. Also, be sure to check out Roman's blogs at this link

--Roman will be covering the scrimmages this weekend as well. Remember, they're 11 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center. They're free, open to everybody and Gate 1 opens at 10:30 a.m. The first 1,000 fans Saturday get a free Devin Setoguchi t-shirt. The first 1,000 fans Sunday get a free Dany Heatley t-shirt. You can also register each day to win an autographed Setoguchi/Heatley jersey.

This'll be a great opportunity to check out the Wild's future, including prospects like Mikael Granlund, Johan Larsson, Charlie Coyle & crew in Wild jerseys live and in-person. The scrimmages will also be streamed on wild.com.

--On Friday, qualifying offers for restricted free agents come off the table leaguewide, so those unsigned Wild RFA's should be signing soon. In fact, I hear Casey Wellman and Justin Falk are close to re-upping. The other restricted free agents on two-way qualifying offers are James Sheppard, Jeff Penner and Jarod Palmer.

Qualifying offers expiring means just that -- their QO's expire. It doesn't mean they become unrestricted free agents or anything. Teams still owns their rights and they continue negotiations as restricted free agents.

--"Becoming Wild," the team's documentary that has been running on Fox Sports North, has gotten great accolades from everything I can tell. I thoroughly enjoyed Episode 1, which gives Wild fans a real nice introduction to Mike Yeo, who at that point was Houston's coach and now is the Wild's coach. If you missed it, it can be seen on wild.com.

Here are the first air dates for the remaining episodes: Episode two on July 22, episode three on Aug. 5, episode four on Aug. 19, episode five on Sept. 9 and episode six on Sept. 30.

--Lastly,

NHL PLAYERS TO HOST CHARITY HOCKEY GAME
ON JULY 20 AT COTTAGE GROVE ICE ARENA
PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT COTTAGE GROVE HOCKEY ASSOCIATION, HASTINGS HOCKEY ASSOCIATION AND DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE

SAINT PAUL/MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (July 14, 2011) – Local National Hockey League (NHL) players Taylor Chorney (Edmonton Oilers), Derek Stepan (N.Y. Rangers) and Jeff Taffe (Minnesota Wild) have organized a charity hockey game on Wednesday, July 20 at 7 p.m. at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena to benefit the Cottage Grove Hockey Association, the Hastings Hockey Association and Defending The Blue Line.

Players scheduled to participate in the game include: David Backes (St. Louis Blues), Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks), Alex Goligoski (Dallas Stars), Matt Hendricks (Washington Capitals), Phil Housley (U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer), Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche), Jamie McBain (Carolina Hurricanes), Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers), Kyle Okposo (N.Y. Islanders), T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues), Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils), Dan Sexton (Anaheim Ducks), Drew Stafford (Buffalo Sabres) and Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg Jets).

NHL players will be available for an autograph session before the game from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Autographed game jerseys will also be auctioned off after the game.

Tickets for the event cost $35.00 per person and can be purchased at the Hastings Ice Arena and the Cottage Grove Ice Arena. For more information on this event please visit www.hastingshockey.com or www.defendingtheblueline.org. Cottage Grove Ice Arena is located at 8020 80th Street South in Cottage Grove.

Defending The Blue Line is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by a group of National Guard soldiers in Minnesota. The charity assists families of all branches of the military with costs associated with hockey. They provide financial assistance for registration fees, free equipment, summer hockey camps, and sending many deserving families down to Xcel Energy Center for a night of fun at a Minnesota Wild game.

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