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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Posts about Wild off-season news

Harding's Hope makes donation to National MS Society programs

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: September 13, 2014 - 9:08 AM

Harding's Hope, the nonprofit founded by Wild goalie Josh Harding, donated $83,000 today to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Upper Midwest Chapter, to help fund direct financial assistance for families affected by MS.

"Thanks to the generosity of donors and partners, Harding’s Hope is proud to announce our first year gift of $83,000 to the MS Society programs," said Harding's Hope advisor Lana Quinn of QuinnMcCauley. "We hope that through this season’s ‘Make the Save’ campaign we can increase that amount for next year.

"Camp opens next week and Josh’s focus returns to the ice, but off ice we will continue to work to raise funds for people living with MS and hope hockey fans everywhere will join us."

“This generous donation will make a tremendous impact in the lives of families struggling to cope with

the financial burden of this lifelong disease,“ said National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter President
Holly Anderson. “We extend our deepest gratitude to Harding’s Hope for their dedication to helping
people with MS live their best lives.”

Harding’s Hope raises awareness and funds to support people living with MS. Today, the charity also transitioned to a new web site, www.hardingshope.org.

“On behalf of Harding’s Hope and all those affected by MS, we are thankful to the hundreds of individuals and organizations that contributed this past year to make this donation possible,” Harding said.

The four Society programs chosen for funding include chore services, care partner relief, exercise and wellness, and aids for daily living ― all designed to help people with MS stay strong and independent, and remain in their homes and communities.

I sat down with Harding last week and will be doing an article on him in the next few days. Harding, who led the NHL last season in goals-against average and save percentage, has looked great on the ice the past month and is determined "to show I’m capable of playing a full season."

“I’m excited for this season and I don’t know if I’ve felt this good in my life," he said.

Bob Suter wake, funeral information

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: September 10, 2014 - 5:39 PM

To honor the life of Bob Suter, there will be a wake at Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, Friday from 3-7 p.m. Bob's funeral will be held at Alliant Energy Center on Saturday at 11 a.m.

The venue was chosen because there's not a Lutheran church in the area with the capacity to hold the expected number of guests. The public is welcome to the wake and the funeral.

Mark Johnson, Tom Sagissor and son Garrett Suter will eulogize Bob.

Bob Suter, a Wild scout and member of the famed "Miracle on Ice," died Monday in Middleton, Wisconsin, at the age of 57.

Earlier today, Wild defenseman Ryan Suter released the following statement through the team regarding the loss of his dad:

The sudden loss of my father has been difficult for myself and our family - my dad was my hero and he taught me about life, hockey and what was truly important - family. He will be missed greatly and his legacy and spirit will be with us every day. He lived with the motto “it’s all about the kids” and forever he will be remembered by this.
 
My family and I also want to say thank you for the tremendous outpouring of support we have received from the hockey community around the world. It means a lot to us to know how much he was loved and will be missed.

Wild owner Craig Leipold is chartering an aircraft to bring the team -- teammates, coaches, management, staff and family members -- to Bob's funeral, calling it a "no-brainer. It's just a sad time."

Friend and teammate Zach Parise told me today, "It’s the right thing to do. It sounds cliché, but you have your team and you consider that your second family. I’ve known Ryan for a long time, and I’m glad that we’re doing that. Even if we didn’t have a plane, I’ll bet you the whole team would drive. I’m just glad that we’ll be there for Ryan and his family.”

Wild captain Mikko Koivu discusses brother Saku Koivu's retirement

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: September 10, 2014 - 2:39 PM

For nine seasons, we have witnessed Koivu vs. Koivu matchups, whether it be Minnesota vs. Montreal or Minnesota vs. Anaheim.

Well, after 18 seasons, Saku Koivu retired from the NHL this morning. He scored 255 goals, 577 assists and 832 points in 1,124 games for the Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks. He captained the Canadiens 10 years and won four medals with Finland in the Winter Olympics.

Younger brother Mikko Koivu, the Wild’s all-time leading scorer and captain, skated with the team at its informal skate this morning.

“You’re going to look back and see all the things he did with the Canadiens and the Ducks and the Finnish national team as well, I think he has the respect of each and every team and in each and every town that he played for, from his country, from his teammates and from the staffs,” Koivu said. “He has always been a class act, and I think you’re going to hear that a lot from around the league and around the hockey world.”

If you know Mikko, he never exactly loved playing against his big brother starting with that first game way back in 2005.

“It was always tough,” Mikko Koivu said. “I didn’t really like that going against him and my biggest fear was to face him in the playoffs. I don’t know. It didn’t feel right to go against him. He obviously was a center, too, so I would face him a lot of times and it was a tough situation for both of us, but now looking back, maybe I could have taken it a different way. It was a great experience. For our family, not a lot of people get to do that.”

Saku Koivu had a chance to sign with the Wild a few years back but felt it was Mikko’s team.

“We experienced it with Team Finland and obviously that’s a short period of time,” Mikko Koivu said. “More than anything, he wanted to protect me and give me my time to do my thing here. I think it felt right for him and I respected that. Looking back, I think it was the right call for us.”

By the way, Koivu, 31, who scored 11 goals and 43 assists last season, said his ankle doesn’t affect him anymore. He missed 17 games and the Olympics last year after ankle surgery. He said he trained differently this offseason, although he didn’t want to get into specifics. “I feel good and I feel healthy and I’m excited to get going.”

-- In other Wild news overshadowed yesterday, the Wild announced it will have an ECHL affiliation with the Alaska Aces. The St. Louis Blues will share that affiliation. All its main prospects and minor-leaguers will be with the AHL Iowa Wild still.

Also, the Wild will hold an open practice for fans to watch on Sept. 20 at Xcel Energy Center from 9:30 a.m.-noon. Remember, single-game tickets go on sale that morning at 10 at the arena’s box office.

Wild owner to fly team to Bob Suter's funeral

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: September 10, 2014 - 11:57 AM

An update on the tragic loss of Bob Suter, Ryan's dad and the Wild scout, ...

Ryan Suter issued this statement through Wild PR: The sudden loss of my father has been difficult for myself and our family - my dad was my hero and he taught me about life, hockey and what was truly important - family. He will be missed greatly and his legacy and spirit will be with us every day. He lived with the motto “it’s all about the kids” and forever he will be remembered by this. My family and I also want to say thank you for the tremendous outpouring of support we have received from the hockey community around the world. It means a lot to us to know how much he was loved and will be missed.

Tom Sagissor, the former Badger and close family friend of the Suters, called this morning. As you can imagine, Tom is incredibly broken up by the loss of his friend. Tom and Ryan drove to Madison last night and Ryan plans to put out a statement through the Wild today. The family is obviously devastated.

Funeral plans are still pending, but Tom said Wild owner Craig Leipold has been incredibly supportive and plans to fly the entire team and family members to Bob's funeral.

"I just think that says huge things about Craig and the organization," Tom said. "Bob was a fantastic guy, just a great father and he was great to kids and good to the game of hockey. All those kids were just affected by him and his ability to keep people in the game."

Bob Suter, who died at the rink he co-owned with his son, was, as ESPN's John Buccigross so poignantly said below, a rink rat.

In a story last year, Ryan Suter told me he never grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL. He figured he would go to the University of Wisconsin like his dad and uncle, Gary, and then work at the rink with his dad. His father was always at that rink, whether it was sweeping the locker rooms, resurfacing the ice or devoting his time to the kids who love to skate down at Capitol Ice.

Some tweets from yesterday:

As I mentioned on yesterday's blog, Bob Suter scouted the USHL and Wisconsin high schools the past two years for the Wild. He was a big reason the Wild drafted defenseman Gustav Olofsson.

"Bob was a tremendous asset to our scouting staff," assistant GM Brent Flahr said. "He loved the game of hockey, he was around rinks all of his life, and he had a natural eye for talent. He put countless miles on his truck in order to scout games for us and he loved to talk hockey. He was a lot of fun to have at meetings, he had a great sense of humor, and was just a positive guy to be around. It was a sad day for all of our staff and he will be greatly missed."

Len Boogaard statement on arrests stemming from son Derek's death

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: September 9, 2014 - 4:53 PM

Boogaard Family and Corboy & Demetrio Statements about Drug Charges

Len Boogaard, the father of the late Derek Boogaard, has issued a statement regarding today’s arrest of Jordan Hart and Oscar Johnson:

“We miss Derek every minute of every day.  Every effort to hold accountable those that contributed to my son’s addiction and death is commendable. My family and I appreciate the tireless and persistent work of the New York Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.  It is our hope that their hard work will save other families from the heartbreak we endure.”

Corboy & Demetrio attorneys Thomas A. Demetrio and William T. Gibbs are representing the Estate of Derek Boogaard.

  

“The indicted defendants carelessly and maliciously preyed upon Derek Boogaard’s addiction with total disregard for his well-being,” Gibbs said. 

“Addiction to prescription drugs is an unfortunate epidemic.  Today, alone, nearly 100 more people will die from a prescription drug overdose.  This can, and must, be stopped – arresting drug dealers, eliminating immoral health care providers, enacting and enforcing patient review and prescription drug monitoring programs, ensuring better access to effective drug abuse treatment and increasing public awareness of the severity of this problem are all important and necessary steps towards ending this plague,” Gibbs added.

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