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Russo's Rants

Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Russo: Haula hearing Friday morning and other notes

1. Unless one side caves or compromises or whatever you want to call it from a few hours ago, the Wild and Erik Haula will go to an 8 a.m. CT Friday arbitration hearing. Again, this was as of a couple hours ago. The gap is $425,000 between what each side is seeking from the arbitrator, so one sitdown could potentially change things. Both sides are currently in Toronto.

But I'd be surprised if this isn't going to arb.

If the two sides don't settle before an arbitrator makes his decision (if it gets to arbitration) 48 hours after the hearing, Haula will be awarded a one-year deal between $775,000 and $1.2 million.

2. On Wednesday at 1 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium, the NHL will hold a news conference regarding the Feb. 21 Stadium Series game between the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. Details about the alumni game, the game's logo and perhaps some ticket intel will be announced. Jerseys will be unveiled at a later time.

At the presser will be NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Wild owner Craig Leipold, Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka, Wild players Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, a freshly-signed Haula, Mike Reilly and Jordan Schroeder, University of Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague, Blackhawks prez John McDonough and colleague Jay Blunk and Lou Nanne and Troy Murray representing the North Stars/Wild and Blackhawks alumni, respectively.

This is old hat for the Hawks, so Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Co. have something better to do and won't be in town for the presser.

Lunch will be served, so plenty of media will be in attendance.

3. Hockey Day Minnesota 2016, the 10th Hockey Day, was officially announced this morning in Duluth. The date will be Feb. 6 and the host site will be Bayfront Park, a beautiful place on Lake Superior where I recently watched Trampled by Turtles in concert.

(Cutting and pasting parts of the press release now)

Proceeds of the event will benefit Duluth area youth hockey programs. Year 2016 will mark a decade of Hockey Day Minnesota celebrations.
"We are thrilled to bring Wells Fargo Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 to Duluth's Bayfront Park," said Minnesota Wild Vice President of Brand Content and Communications John Maher. "Duluth has a vibrant hockey community that extends from youth to the pros, which will be a delight to showcase. Additionally, we believe the unique setting and the community's enthusiasm will combine for a magical 10th edition of Hockey Day Minnesota."

Duluth's festivities will be part of a television event broadcast on FOX Sports North starting at 9 a.m. The first game will feature a battle between Section 7A rivals the Duluth Denfeld Hunters and the Eveleth-Gilbert Golden Bears. This will be the first Hockey Day appearance for the Hunters and the second for the Golden Bears, who fell to Lake of the Woods 5-0 on Baudette Bay in 2008.  
The second game will feature a state championship rematch between Duluth East and Lakeville North. The Panthers capped their undefeated season by beating the underdog Greyhounds 4-1 to earn the 2015 Minnesota State High School League Boys' Hockey AA Championship title on March 7 at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. This will be the third Hockey Day appearance for Duluth East (2009, 2012) and the first for Lakeville North.
Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 will be capped off as the Minnesota Wild face off against the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m. CT in St. Louis. Wells Fargo Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 on FOX Sports North will include a full day of hockey-related programming designed as a celebration of the game from peewees to pros. Ticket information, game schedule including collegiate matchups, and additional programming details for Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 will be announced at a later date.
The outdoor games will be played on a specially-constructed rink set against the backdrop of Lake Superior in Duluth's Bayfront Park. In the event the outdoor ice is deemed unplayable due to weather, outdoor games would be moved to the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.
"It's hard to believe it has been 10 years since the first Hockey Day in Baudette," said Mike Dimond, senior vice president and general manager of FOX Sports North. "Over the past decade, Hockey Day Minnesota has turned into a state holiday in celebration of this great game, the lifestyle, and values it fosters. All of us at FOX Sports North are especially proud to be a part of something so special and look forward to carrying on the tradition this year in Duluth."

Hockey Day Minnesota was originated in 2007 by the Minnesota Wild to celebrate the game that has made Minnesota the State of Hockey. It is produced in partnership with FOX Sports North, Minnesota Hockey and the respective local community that serves as host each year. Previous locations include Baudette Bay (2007, 2008), Phalen Park (2009), Hermantown (2010), Moorhead (2011), Minnetonka (2012), Grand Rapids (2013), Elk River (2014) and Saint Paul (2015).

Haula, Wild exchange salary figures for planned Friday arbitration hearing

With a potential salary arbitration hearing 48 hours away, the Wild and restricted free-agent center Erik Haula exchanged briefs Wednesday morning at 8 o'clock Central.

Good morning from Seattle, where I just landed after a red eye from Maui. Yes, I'm back and timed the Haula-arbitration brief exchange just perfectly. Hopefully this reads OK; writing it from my iPhone.

The Wild is looking to pay Haula $775,000 next season and Haula is seeking $1.2 million, sources confirm. If the sides go through with arbitration and don't settle before an arbitrator makes his decision, the arbitrator will choose his own number equal to or between the ranges after hearing each side's argument. 

This is different than, say, baseball, where the arbitrator chooses either the team's number or the player. 

Since Haula filed for arbitration, the Wild gets to pick the term. The Wild has opted for a one-year award, sources say.

Again, even if the sides go through with arbitration, it can settle a contact at any term prior to the arbitrator's decision, which will come within 48 hours of the hearing. Of course, the sides haven't been close prior to the brief exchange. As I've mentioned a thousand times, the good news regarding what can often be a contentious arbitration process is they're guaranteed a solution soon with Haula and this contract squabble won't continue for too much longer. 

If the sides don't settle on a contract, the arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. ET in Toronto. Assistant GM Brent Flahr and director of hockey administration Shep Harder will represent the Wild. Agent Jay Grossman will represent Haula. In my time covering the Wild, the team hasn't gotten through the arbitration process with any player. Pierre-Marc Bouchard was close; I think briefs were exchanged.

Haula scored seven goals and seven assists in 72 games last season and was minus-7. He was scratched in eight of 10 playoff games, scoring one goal. Haula was one of the Wild's top penalty killers. As part of the league's top PK, he was on the ice for seven power-play goals in 153-plus minutes of shorthanded time.

Defenseman Jon Blum remains unsigned. The Wild has been trying to trade him to give him a fresh start. Blum's options are re-signing with the Wild and perhaps Chuck Fletcher can move him at some point or signing in Europe, where he has some options.

In other news, Matt Dumba will change his number to 24 next season. This was his number before turning pro and Len Boogaard, father of the late Derek Boogaard, emailed me unsolicited yesterday to let me know Dumba called him last week to ask permission if it was OK with the family if Dumba wear Derek's 24. Matt Cooke did the same thing before wearing 24 with the Wild. Len said he was very impressed with Dumba and called him a "classy kid."

Lastly, there will be a press event at Bayfront Park on Thursday to officially name Duluth the host city for Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 on Feb. 6. Also, next week the Wild and NHL will hold a press event for the Stadium Series game against the Blackhawks on Feb. 21.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Saints at Fargo-Moorhead

    6pm on 105.1-FM

  • Seattle at Twins

    6:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Live racing


  • Lynx at Tulsa

    7pm on 106.1-FM

  • Live racing


  • Saints at Fargo-Moorhead

    1pm on 1220-AM

  • Seattle at Twins

    1:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Midwest Outlaws Car Show and Taco Event

    3pm on Live music, taco eating contest and more.

  • Twins at Toronto

    12:07pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Saints at Fargo-Moorhead

    7pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Toronto

    6:07pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lynx at Los Angeles

    9pm on ESPN2, 106.1-FM

  • Twins at Toronto

    6:07pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at New York


  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Toronto

    6:07pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Live racing


  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Live racing


  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Lynx at Phoenix

    9pm on 106.1-FM

Today's Scoreboard

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  • Kansas City



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    3:05 PM


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    6:05 PM

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    6:10 PM

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    6:15 PM

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    7:00 PM

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