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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Houston Aeros to play Chicago's affiliate in Minnesota

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild off-season news Updated: August 17, 2012 - 3:21 PM

There may be the potential of an NHL lockout, but there will at least be one professional hockey game played at Xcel Energy Center this fall. The Houston Aeros will play the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, on Nov. 18 at the X.

The game is 5 p.m. Wild season ticketholders will receive complimentary tickets. Reserved seating goes on sale for others August 23 at 10 a.m. and costs $20.

This is the fourth time the Aeros have played at the X. The last time in 2011, Mike Yeo's Aeros fell 3-1 to Peoria and Tyler Cuma tore his ACL.

As a reminder, the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15. If there's no agreement by then, the NHL has already stated that the players will be locked out. The Wild's scheduled to open camp Sept. 21 with the season scheduled to begin Oct. 13 at home vs. Colorado.

That's obviously in peril.

The first casualty of the uncertainty came yesterday when the Detroit Red Wings, very much expectedly if you've been reading me and listening to me all summer, scrapped the Traverse City prospects tournament.

If there's a lockout, last time, teams were permitted to send their entry-level and two-way players to the minors. If the same remains this year, Houston could be stacked with prospects like Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker, Brett Bulmer, Zack Phillips and maybe Jonas Brodin (he'd either be in Houston or return to Sweden). Theoretically, if the rules remain the same, the Wild could also send Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon down there because they're on entry-level deals.

I've gotten a lot of questions from readers asking when Wild individual tickets go on sale for exhibition and regular-season games. An announcement as to the Wild's plans is expected to come out next week.

In the past few days, other teams have proceeded with ticket plans and individual tickets like there's no threat of a lockout. So, business as usual -- even though it's not.

I just got off a 40-minute conference call with NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr. Really, no new information, but he did say he plans to speak on the phone with Commissioner Gary Bettman this weekend to see how they find a way to get some common ground.

He said when it comes to the non-financial discussions, there is a good amount of common ground. The important stuff though, the stuff that'll allow an agreement and avoid a lockout, it's one big no.

Fehr held a regional meeting with players the past two days in Chicago to brief them on negotiations. He remains hopeful that there will be no lockout, but he reiterated if there is, that is the league's decision.

Asked what he would tell the fans if they asked him, "do you think there will be a lockout," he said, "I wish I knew the answer to that," that he has more than 700 players that would like to know the same thing.

Fehr got questions about why there can't just be a 50-50 split in revenues. He said when you take the actual definition of revenues in the NHL, it's the NHLPA's calculation that the players are at about a 50-50 split right now.

He talked about how there's no cap on GM's salaries, coach salaries, ticket prices, franchise sale prices, only player salaries, and that was the owner's wish. He talked about how it's not a true partnership because the players don't have control.

Again, though, no updates beyond earlier this week.

As for the Aeros' schedule,here is a link

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