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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Yeo to visit Koivu, Backstrom in Finland

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: July 15, 2011 - 1:11 PM

BY CHIP SCOGGINS

New Wild coach Mike Yeo said Friday that he and general manager Chuck Fletcher will fly to Finland on Monday to visit captain Mikko Koivu and goalie Niklas Backstrom.

Yeo said he will spend one day with Backstrom and one day with Koivu before returning home. Yeo said he wants to begin developing a close relationship with his two veterans, especially Koivu, his captain who carries a lot of influence in the locker room.

"For me, it’s just real important," Yeo said. "This guy is the captain of our team and obviously Nik is a real important piece as the goalie of the team. But with regards to Mikko, he’s the captain of the team and he’s a guy that right from Day 1 I have to make sure I’ve developed a good relationship with him and making sure the buy-in and the way that we want to play the game, he’s going to be the leader. He’s going to be the guy that we have to make sure we have on the right page right from the start so that everybody else will follow suit."

Yeo said he wants to discuss with Koivu some specific issues related to how he runs a team, but he said getting to know his captain on a personal level is just as important.

"It’s more personal," Yeo said. "But there are a number of things that I have to run past him. Some ideas that we have. I think it’s real important when you’re a coach that there are certain things when you come in you kind of say, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’ There’s also a number of things that you have to get the feedback of some of the guys, with their routines or whatever it is. So there’s a number of things I have to run past him, a number of things I want to prepare him for and let him know what he can expect. More importantly, it’s just a matter of getting there and starting to develop a relationship. I have high hopes and high expectations for Mikko. I’d like to start laying that groundwork right now."

Etc.

As Russo tweeted last night, Casey Wellman and Jarod Palmer signed their qualifying offers. Justin Falk, James Sheppard and Jeff Penner also are restricted free agents. The deadline to accept the qualifying offers is 4 p.m. today.

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