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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Zanon returns; Madden to sign with Florida

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: December 28, 2011 - 12:44 PM

UPDATED

Morning from Smashville, the country music capital of the world.

I'm back with the team -- for today. Kent's actually got the team Thursday and Friday as I attend to personal matters.

Unconfirmed as of now, so I'll update if what I'm seeing from the morning skate is wrong, but ...

Josh Harding gets the start tonight in Nashville, meaning Niklas Backstrom likely starts tomorrow vs. Edmonton.

Looks to me Nate Prosser will be paired with Justin Falk and Mike Lundin is scratched. Looks to me former Predator Greg Zanon returns from being scratched in four of the last six and is paired with former Predator Marek Zidlicky.

Jon DiSalvatore looks to be scratched. Yeo says forward scratch will be a gametime decision, but his plan is to play DiSalvatore and he could be seeing shifts at right wing with Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. That means Jarod Palmer could be scratched. If not, he's changing lines and probably Brad Staubitz or Colton Gillies will be scratched.

I talked to NHL executive Brendan Shanahan for a long time this morning about the Cody McLeod/Jared Spurgeon incident, and I'll have his reasoning for no suspension in tomorrow's Star Tribune. I'll also have a lot more from Shanahan in my Sunday Insider.

Coach Mike Yeo is very disappointed there was no suspension. He called Spurgeon the Wild's "Shea Weber, Nick Lidstrom," meaning No. 1 option in every situation. He called it a "dangerous, dirty hit."

He said Spurgeon injury isn't as bad as it looked at the time. X-rays were negative. Still be calling lower body. Taking it day by day, Spurgeon is feeling a little better today, Yeo said.

Guillaume Latendresse is not anywhere close to being ready, but Yeo hopes Devin Setoguchi returns from his knee injury early in the new year.

Yeo said he talked yesterday with Marek Zidlicky about becoming more of a leader in getting the Wild's transition game going -- i.e. moving the puck out of its end. He also has no goals, and I'd think he should be back on the No. 1 power-play unit with Spurgeon hurt.

Yeo wants better attention to details. He said giving up eight goals in two games is not Wild hockey and the goals are coming because of mistakes that were not characteristic of the early-season Wild team.

As I reported yesterday, former Wild center John Madden, now a fulltime resident of Edina, has been skating every day in an attempt to reignite his NHL career and Florida had strong interest.

Now I'm hearing it's a done deal and it'll be announced today or tomorrow.

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