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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We will get Mike Yeo in 15 minutes, but I am hearing the Wild will have a new fourth line this afternoon.
Zenon Konopka won't play and Stephane Veilleux will be inserted. The goal is clearly speed, energy and big hits.
Veilleux, called up twice in the past few weeks but scratched in both games, has played 460 regular-season games in the NHL and 11 playoff games for the Wild.
More after we talk to Yeo
Sadly, the Houston Aeros' season and their existence came to a painful end last night in Grand Rapids as the Griffins beat them 7-0.
The Aeros relocate to Des Moines, Iowa, next year. You've got to feel for their fans and those that work around the team and cover the team. For some coverage, see the great Heather Galindo's Twitter account at @hockeygalindo and @3rdIntermission.
Aeros play-by-play man Joe O'Donnell (@aero_joe) tweeted after the game: Aeros fall 7-0...the season is over, and depressingly, the franchise is as well... #thankyoufans #thankyouAeros AND That was, without question, one of the hardest things I've ever done in 8 years as a broadcaster.......
With the Aeros eliminated, the Wild can technically recall the entire team (current NHL contracts) to Minnesota if it so chooses.
As of now, most players are heading back to Houston to pack up, but I am hearing that three players have arrived or on their way to Minnesota.
Stephane Veilleux arrived last night and Mikael Granlund and Jake Dowell are on their way here now.
So I'd anticipate we may have some lineup changes today. No, before you email and tweet me incessantly, Justin Fontaine was not one of those brought up for some reason.
As of now, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is available at noon, but he said yesterday that Dave Bolland and Ray Emery are out.
As of now, there is no pregame access to Mike Yeo. I will let you know if that changes, but you may need to wait until warmups for the lineup.
I will post another blog with the lineup before the game. Enjoy the first home playoff game in five years today folks.
We have a ton of coverage for you in today's Star Tribune and on startribune.com/wild, but here is a fun read from Chip Scoggins on the 2003 team that rode to the Western Conference Finals.
Remember, the Wild will host a pregame party from 12-1:30 p.m. along the sidewalk between Gates 1 and 3 of Xcel Energy Center.
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