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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Staubitz clears waivers; Lundin back in; Rau suspended for Zucker hit

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild pregame skate Updated: February 11, 2012 - 6:57 PM

UPDATED -- Brad Staubitz reassigned for now

Good morning from Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild hosts Todd Richards, Colton Gillies and the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight.

Brad Staubitz cleared waivers. While he may eventually be assigned to AHL Houston, it's clear GM Chuck Fletcher is trying to trade the winger in hopes of finding him a new NHL home. He has talked to numerous teams, including Columbus. Richards like Staubitz and Jared Boll is currently hurt.

We'll see. This to me is not an Eric Nystrom situation where he had a big contract left ($1.4 million this year and next) and that's why nobody took him. Staubitz is a free agent next year and is only owed about 250K the rest of the year, so if you want him, why wouldn't you just take him off waivers? It's not like you'd conceivably need the Wild to take a contract back.

Fletcher is not going to comment until they figure out what they're going to do. Technically, remember, once you clear waivers, you're still on the roster. It's not like the Wild lost him.

So conceivably, even though he will be scratched tonight, his Wild career may not be over.

Defenseman Mike Lundin will be unchained. Coach Mike Yeo said it's been long enough. He has been scratched in 16 of the past 20 games and seven in a row since Jan. 19 in Toronto.

"It's been tough. I've been watching a lot of hockey. I'm just itching to get back in," said Lundin.

Justin Falk will be scratched. Niklas Backstrom will start in goal. Josh Harding has not played since the Wild's meltdown from 4-1 down in the third period to lose in regulation to Nashville on Jan. 31.

Talk of the Wild's locker room today was "Chad Rau's little brother" hit on DU's Jason Zucker last night. Zucker flipped the puck into the offensive zone. The puck was probably 25 feet away at least when he was hit. Consensus among Wild players was "late, high and cheap." I think you can't debate the late part, but debate all you want the high and cheap part.

Kyle Rau has been suspended for tonight's rematch Gophers-Pioneers rematch by the WCHA

Zucker, a 2010 Wild second-round pick who attended the Wild's last two wins in Denver, tweeted this morning: "Thanks for all the wishes everybody. Feeling better as of now, will have an update for you at a later time."

I hear it is not concussion related. They're waiting for a scan back, but it could be a possible bruised lung with shoulder and rib issues.

Talked to Richards. Just the nicest guy. Also Colton Gillies is excited to play his 100th NHL game ironically at the X. He said after the win the other night vs. the Wild, Richards came into the room and said he'd sleep better that night.  

Take a gander at Chip Scoggins' well-done column today here.

His first anecdote about the Wild's logo on the rug reminds me of Mike Keenan. When Keenan became the Panthers' coach after Duane Sutter was fired (soon after 6-0 loss in Minnesota in 2001, I believe), Keenan strolled across the Panthers' logo in the middle of the locker room.

The media gasped, told him that was against the rules. Keenan jumped on the middle of the logo in his skates and jumped up and down and said exactly what Chip said in his column.  

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