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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Nystrom clears waivers; Heatley extras

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice, Wild training camp Updated: October 7, 2011 - 11:07 AM

Morning. Great night of hockey last night. Vancouver rallied for a shootout loss against Pittsburgh, so the Canucks lead the conference with a point.

Wild already chasing because of these darn 3-point games!!!!!!

Couple items:

1. I'll be down at Buffalo Wild Wings at 9:40 a.m. on the University of Minnesota campus broadcasting with Paul and Paul on KFAN. Not that I'm endorsing skipping class, but ...

2. I'll be on Sports Primetime tonight on Fox 9 at 10:15 p.m. with Dawn Mitchell talking Wild puck

3. Bunch more games on tap today, including two games from Europe at noon: Ducks vs. Sabres and Rangers vs. Kings

Update: 4. Eric Nystrom cleared waivers at 11 a.m. today. Nystrom will likely be assigned to AHL Houston. Nystrom makes $1.4 million. The Wild could opt to eventually place him on re-entry waivers to entice another team to take him at half price.

5. Wild is hosting a Wake-Up Rally with refreshments and most importantly, the Star Tribune, from 6-9 a.m. down on Kellogg by the arena.

6. Buy a paper today because there's a ton of hockey coverage. Here's the Dany Heatley feature I've been working on. Heatley's been exceptional to deal with so far from my perspective. Laid back, funny, great quote, accomodating, and he's been good on the ice and good in the room.

I had to squeeze this out of the story, but I loved this story from his buddy Jay Reimers:

“When he was in Atlanta, we walked into a restaurant and in walks a kid with a Thrashers jersey on,” Reimers said. “You could see the ‘15’ on the sleeves. So he Heater spots the kid and gives me the nod, like, ‘Check it out.’ He was pumped and feeling proud.
“About 15 minutes later, the kid ends up walking by the table and it was an Andrew Brunette jersey. We both started laughing hysterically. The funny thing is now that he’s again taken Bruno’s number, I hope it happens again. Although, it would be even better if it was a James Sheppard.”
 

Heatley on his golf game:“Golfing in Blaine was enough. [Last month], I made a nine. The next hole, I put it 300 yards down the middle and made a birdie. Now that’s a humbling game.”

"You know what, I’m excited. I was excited then, I was excited now. This is a good situation to come into. We made a lot of changes. I think this team’s missed the playoffs the last three years, but having played them, they were right up into the hunt until the end. Other than that, were right there. Goaltending is great, got some top-end talent, excited about Mike and the whole staff. Talking to them and talking to Mikko, it’s going to be a good year."

Relish being the go-to guy? "I do. I do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to play on a team with a bunch of guys that can score and contribute. There were a lot of guys that could put up numbers [in San Jose]. But being here, it’s always fun to have that pressure. I think myself, Mikko, Seto’s going to have a big year. I think they’re expecting a lot from Seto, I think they’re expecting a lot from me, I think they’re expecting a lot from guys that maybe had down years, that were hurt the last year or two. So there’s a lot of guys on this team with a lot to prove, and that’s going to bring out good things."

Your potential, rebounding from a down year? "It was a down year. It’s the old saying. You get 100 points or whatever, and people expect that every year. I think they should. I think you should expect that from yourself and try to get better every year. I never like to set number goals. I never like that. But people have put out the 50 goals and 100 points. That seems like a target. I just like to get my game to where I know I can score and get chances. And if I’m doing that, then I’m going to put up a lot of numbers."

Struggles last year? "It was a year where I could never really get in a rhythm. There were some small injuries here and there that you mess around with, but it was just a weird year. I wasn’t consistently getting chances game in and game out, and that’s always been something that’s been a key for me. Whether you’re scoring or not, you’re always getting chances. I think last year at times I’d go through stretches of not getting enough shots, not getting enough chances, and I just have to get back to that."

Playoffs, were you hurt? "Later, but no excuses. I think that was the same thing as the regular season. Have a good game or two and then have a game where you were just not generating enough offense and not getting enough chances. So, it was a tough year all the way through, especially being expected to produce and help that team win. We had as good a team as any in the league, and it was a disappointing year. But it’s in the past."


Used to playing playoffs, don’t want be off in april? "Playoffs have to be our goal. The west is so close. Iot’s tight. You look at every team in the west right now, they all think they have a better team and think they have a shot at the playoffs. So it’s going to be tight every night. I think we have a real good chance."

 

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