Risebrough says he'd swap goalies in a crucial shootout

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 12, 2006 - 9:26 PM

CALGARY, ALBERTA - Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough has taken note of the distinctive early-season difference between starting goaltender Manny Fernandez and backup Niklas Backstrom in shootouts.

Fernandez is 6-0 this season with a .720 save percentage (seven goals on 25 shots), and 10-2 in his career. Backstrom is 1-2 and ranks 41st out of 46 goaltenders with a .300 save percentage (seven goals on 10 shots).

It got Risebrough thinking. Later this season, if points are essential and Backstrom got the team into a shootout, he wouldn't mind seeing coach Jacques Lemaire replace Backstrom with Fernandez.

"If you're going to put your best shooters out, why wouldn't you put your best goalie out?" Risebrough said. "If it came down to late in the season and it was a needed game ... the general manager's already decided."

In October against Philadelphia, Thrashers coach Bob Hartley pulled backup Johan Hedberg before a shootout in favor of Kari Lehtonen, who went 5-0 in shootouts last year. Lehtonen lost, but Hartley said, "If you have Mariano Rivera sitting in the bullpen, you use him."

Last season, Edmonton yanked Jussi Markkanen and Ty Conklin for Mike Morrison. Conklin was furious.

Fernandez didn't seem thrilled with the hypothetical idea.

"I mean, they're my boss. If they decide I go, I go," Fernandez said. "There's a lot of positions that a goalie wouldn't want to be in, but I've worked through it in the past. ... It's their call, obviously. I'm getting paid to stop pucks."

Weinhandl is placed on re-entry waivers

Three days after he was sent to the minors, winger Mattias Weinhandl was put on 24-hour re-entry waivers Tuesday.

The hope is to entice another team to claim Weinhandl by 11 a.m. today since the cost to pick him up now is half of what it was Saturday.

Prorated, Weinhandl still is owed roughly $500,000 of his $800,000 salary. If Weinhandl was claimed, the Wild would pick up half his salary and take half of a salary cap hit.

"I did it as a commitment to the kid," Risebrough said. "He just kept working hard even though he wasn't playing."

If nobody claims Weinhandl, he'll simply be returned to AHL Houston.

Weinhandl, who is being paid his NHL salary in the minors, actually got a significant raise. If one considers there's no state income tax in Texas and that escrow isn't deducted in the minors, Weinhandl actually saw a 21 percent pay hike with the demotion.

Walz gets more time off

Center Wes Walz, who is recovering from a strained hip flexor, wanted to return to the lineup Tuesday night against Calgary, but Lemaire opted to give him a few more days of rest.

Walz, who has played 15 games, has missed 15 games, including 10 in a row.

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