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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

(UPDATED) Latendresse for Pouliot thoughts; Latendresse highlights

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: November 23, 2009 - 8:26 PM

I can't wait to write that name on deadline a few times.

Just an fyi first, it's doubtful Guillaume Latendresse will make his Wild debut Wednesday against Boston. He'll need to get his U.S. work visa first, and the Wild is unsure of the exact timing as of now. But, Benoit Pouliot won't be making his Canadiens debut for a little bit because he still has a jammed wrist.

I spoke to Latendresse on the phone an hour or so ago. You can read the full quotes in the paper Tuesday, but a taste: "Relieved. I'm very excited. ... I'm looking for a fresh start. ... I knew this was coming."

Here's some Latendresse highlights off YouTube.

Like I said, I'll update blog after I'm done writing for the paper.

One of my best friends, Fred G., lives up in Montreal and fancies himself as some kind of hockey expert. Latendresse is his favorite player, believe it or not, so we'll find out soon how much Fred G. really knows about hockey. His best bud, John P., a former captain at a U.S. College, emailed me and said, "Good trade for the Wild," so we'll see soon as well if John should be hired as a scout somewhere.

OK, I'M BACK WITH A FEW THOUGHTS:

This quote from Canadiens GM Bob Gainey from the Habs' press release pretty much sums up the trade:

"The forwards are two players at the same stage in their careers who were still looking to make a place for themselves with the teams that drafted them. Often times a different environment, new teammates and a new situation can be beneficial for a player."

That's what both teams are hoping. A couple underachieving players with untapped potential in dire need of changes in scenery will switch uni's and try to ignite their careers.

Both, very excited. Latendresse was on top of the world. And Pouliot was excited to go to basically his hometown Habs. He grew up just over the Quebec border in Ontario, in a French-speaking town 75 miles from Montreal.

Obviously, Latendresse has had a lot more success than Pouliot thus far, averaging 15 goals a year his first three years. That's not too shabby as a 19-, 20- and 21-year-old. But he was buried on the fourth line this year, and I won't lie, other than my two buddies above, I didn't hear the greatest things about him today from the few scouts and media members I spoke with.

But Latendresse admitted to me that he needs a fresh start, that he and coach Jacques Martin were like oil and water and that the real player is the one that was seen the past few years, not this year.

Skating is his biggest issue. He's a big guy who hits hard when he wants to, but as they say, it's all about getting there.  Apparently the Canadiens wanted him to go to the net more and he felt he was a shoot one-timers kind of guy. The Wild thinks he can be a top-six guy, but work ethic does seem to be a criticism.

We'll see. There's definitely talent there.

As for Pouliot, I've always been a critic of his, but he actually impressed me a lot on the ice this season. I saw a guy that was trying, somebody who seemed a lot more mature off the ice. As we all know, the talent's there, but his criticism has always been a guy that doesn't seem all that motivated and somebody who quite frankly has trouble processing the game, as a scout recently told me.

I'm just amazed Fletcher was able to trade him. This was a player who seemed virtually untradable at the end of the Doug Risebrough era.

Anyway, it'll be a wait and see for Latendresse. I don't want to jump to any conclusions about him until I watch him play for a bit.

OK, Rachel Blount on for tomorrow. I'll be back Wednesday. I wasn't able to squeeze the Schultz-Clutterbuck stuff into the paper, so I'll throw on the blog Tuesday.

  • 20
  • Comments

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT