This is Michael Russo's 18th year covering the National Hockey League. He's covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005 following 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. Michael 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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Cross Wimbledon off Andrew Brunette's Bucket List.
As you can see in this article, Brunette and his wife flew to London on Monday to join up with Niklas Backstrom and his girlfriend to check out Wimbledon Thursday-Sunday. Today's all about touristy stuff, like Brunette taking a train today to check out Stamford Bridge -- home of his beloved Chelsea football club.
Brunette knows at this point his second stint with the Wild is likely over. He hadn't heard from the team as of yesterday and all indications are lately the Wild's direction now is younger and faster.
Brunette turns 38 in August and the Wild hasn't make the playoffs since his return to the team, so with Pierre-Marc Bouchard looking like he'll start off on the left side of Mikko Koivu in training camp and Devin Setoguchi looking like he'll start on Antti Miettinen's spot on the right, Brunette sees himself moving on.
In fact, as I reported on Twitter yesterday, Brunette has switched agents, firing his longtime agents, Don and Todd Reynolds, over the controversy they created last month when they criticized Rangers forward Sean Avery's stance on same-gender marriage. Todd Reynolds tweeted, "Legal or not, it will always be wrong."
The agents were under fire, Brunette wasn't thrilled with the "fiasco" they created and he's since hired veteran Don Baizley, the agent for many NHLer including Backstrom and Koivu.
So between the time change between London and North America, and between breaks at Wimbledon, Brunette will check in with Baizley a number of times Friday to see which teams have shown interest in him. My guess is the way Brunette lives and dies with the playoffs, he'll do his best to sign with a true playoff contender.
As for Cam Barker, I talked to GM Chuck Fletcher for awhile yesterday, and he wasn't about to speculate what happens with Barker today. One reason is you put players on waivers for a million reasons -- to get teams to take a contract, to spur trade talk by maybe one team wanting to move a contract they don't want for a contract you don't want, just to send a message and get an underachieving player's attention.
Trust me, the Wild's got Barker's attention.
The only thing that is clear right now is the Wild's not happy with Barker and the Wild's got a bunch of things cooking in different trade talks. So one reason Fletcher wouldn't speculate yesterday was because with things so fluid right now, maybe something happens that makes him revisit buying Barker out -- i.e. trading another defenseman or something like that. But Fletcher has indicated he's got his toes in a number of potential things right now.
My guess is Barker is still a goner, whether he's put on unconditional waivers today or the Wild trades him later this summer. Remember, in the NHL, waivers is not "waived" like other sports. Often times players clear waivers in the NHL and nothing happens. They just continue playing on the same team. I'd think that would be difficult in this current situation.
Either way, we should get a bit more clarity on Barker in a few hours.
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