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.
Also find Russo on Facebook.
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Good morning. I'm up because I have an early-morning flight out of Philly. The Wild wrapped up a six-game road trip against the Flyers last night.
Sorry, that was just in my dreams.
I'm actually awake because I've been cramming for an exam, uh, I mean show-prepping. I'm filling in for Paul Allen this morning from 9-noon on KFAN (100.3-FM).
Please tune in. We'll be talking plenty of hockey, both NHL (my friend tells me the Wild are 8-4-3 in his simulated NHL13 season; FIFTH IN THE WEST!!!!) and Gophers. We'll be talking Vikings and Wolves, and maybe sprinkle in a little potshots at Jeffrey Loria, the besieged owner of the biggest laughing stock in sports, the Miami Marlins, who dumped almost $164 million in payroll last night in a trade with Toronto. Nice of Loria to once upon a time ruin my Expos and now re-stock the Blue Jays.
Oh, Major League Baseball -- the pride and joy of Donald Fehr!
I've got some great guests lined up: at 9:15, Gophers defenseman and go-to quote Nate Schmidt; at 9:35, Aeros GM Jim Mill, who may be the busiest man in the Wild hockey ops department; in studio at 9:55-10:30 is former Vikings linebacker and now KFAN contributor Ben Leber; at 10:35, longtime former NHL forward and now NHL analyst, the well-spoken Ray Ferraro and from 11-11:40, I believe in studio, the first-ever Minnesota Mr. Hockey, Tom Chorske.
If you have any questions for any of the guests or for myself, you can obviously call the show OR leave me a question by following me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/russostrib OR leaving the question on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/startribunemikerusso.
My plan is to particularly take calls during Leber's segment and Chorske's because they are extended segments.
I'll be back on with a blog later this afternoon after Gophers men's hockey availability, but they take on Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday at Mariucci. In addition, if you want to get a rare pro hockey fix, the Aeros host Rockford at 5 p.m. Sunday at the X.
Tickets are complimentary for season-ticket holders by calling your sales rep, and for all others, they're $20 and can be purchased at the X box office, wild.com and Ticketmaster.
In for the game will be prospects like Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Johan Larsson, Zack Phillips, Brett Bulmer, Tyler Cuma, Justin Fontaine, Chay Genoway, stud AHL defenseman and Bloomington's own Brian Connelly, David McIntyre, etc., etc. NHLer Marco Scandella, a 2010 second-rounder, will also be playing.
We'll find out from Mill on the radio of some of the injured guys like Chad Rau and Darcy Kuemper and why Matt Hackett has been so rocky. Mikael Granlund has been ruled out from the game with a sprained ankle, and Jonas Brodin unfortunately is out with a broken clavicle.
The Wild are doing a pretty neat thing, by the way.
Remember last year when the Wild had to hustle to sign an emergency goalie because Matt Hackett's plane was late? Hackett was to back up Josh Harding because Niklas Backstrom was about to become a papa.
In emergency situations, you can sign anyone with pro experience, so the Wild turned to a 51-year-old beer league goalie named Paul Deutsch. He tended goal in warmups, but Hackett just arrived for the game.
To keep from scrambling again (assuming the NHL someday returns), the Wild is holding a contest to find the team's next emergency goalie.
It had selected 11 goaltenders to compete in an an on-ice audition before a panel of judges including Wild goaltending coach Bob Mason, Deutsch himself and Wild TV analyst and former IHL champion Mike Greenlay on Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at the X.
The 11 goalies selected to take part:
Tyler Brigl – 27, Saint Paul
Kevin Donohue – 23, Minneapolis
Ryan Ess – 31, Minneapolis
Shane Hudella – 41, Hastings
Amy Jones – 29, Brooklyn Center
Treye Kettwick – 29, Minneapolis
Mark Klaers – 44, St. Louis Park
Mark Ostlund – 24, Saint Paul
Alan Strahota – 27, Burnsville
Joshua Swartout – 24, St. Louis Park
Adam Timperley – 30, Rogers
I'm not rooting, but it'd be a pretty neat story if Jones wins.
Anyway, two finalists will be invited to take part in a shootout against celebrity shooters during the second intermission of the Aeros-IceHogs game Sunday. The goalie that does the best in the shootout will be named the Wild’s next emergency goaltender, with the runner-up named next in line.
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