Harding's hurt, so GM's assistant dons pads

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 3, 2011 - 11:02 PM

Jim Mill fills in for injured goalie at practice.

Josh Harding

Photo: Hannah Foslien, Associated Press

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DULUTH - It's not too often you see the two-pad stack in NHL practices anymore, but it's also not often you call upon a 43-year-old to fasten up the pads for the first time in 15 years.

Jim Mill, the Wild's assistant to the GM and former minor-league goaltender, was parachuted into the Wild's practice Monday at AMSOIL Arena after backup goalie Josh Harding injured his left ankle at the Wild's team-building exercise the day before.

The Wild wouldn't say how Harding injured his ankle and wouldn't speculate on the nature of the injury until he's examined by team doctors.

But Harding believes it's minor.

"We certainly hope it's minor, for our sake and for Josh's," coach Mike Yeo said. "We don't know if it's just a tweak right now or anything more than that."

Harding's injury doesn't seem too serious. Devin Setoguchi tweeted Monday night that he, Harding, Eric Nystrom and Colton Gillies won the team golf tournament.

Yeo didn't second-guess the team's decision to have physically demanding team-building activities six days before the start of the season.

"There's risk in everything. There's risk in practice," Yeo said. "At the end of the day, it stinks anytime you lose a player, but I still know what we did [Sunday] was important to our team, just like practice you run a risk going out doing something that's important for your group."

Mill played parts of four seasons in the East Coast Hockey League, last suiting up for the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks in 1996.

He wore Niklas Backstrom's emergency equipment in practice with skates and pads that didn't exactly fit right. He looked good at times (like on a Colton Gillies one-timer), and, well, rusty other times.

"I sniped on him. He's the only goalie I've sniped on in the last two years," said defenseman Greg Zanon, who scored zero goals in 82 games last season.

"It was a confidence builder."

Mill clearly had a ball, although he chose to skip the Wild's conditioning skate late in practice because "I might have died."

"I was worried about him at that point," Yeo said. "I already asked our trainer to make sure the defibrillator was close to the bench."

Goalie Matt Hackett was recalled from Houston of the AHL.

Etc.

• The NHL hasn't made it official yet, but Wild winger Eric Nystrom said he's been told he won't be suspended for an incident Friday in which Edmonton's Taylor Fedun broke a femur. Nystrom accidentally tripped Fedun while trying to negate an icing.

• Winger Cal Clutterbuck (groin) practiced Monday.

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