Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He 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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Spurgeon won't play in Nashville

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild news, Wild practice Updated: December 27, 2011 - 3:38 PM

Yet another update:

According to Russo, it appears Cody McLeod will not be suspended for his hit on Jared Spurgeon yesterday. Russo has an email into the league asking why, but he has not yet received a response.


Kent Youngblood here. I was at practice today -- Russo will join the team in Nashville -- and here is what went down at practice today:

First, it was a very brisk workout, an hour-plus in length, in which the team worked hard on puck control, offensive zone pressure and getting pucks on net. I know none of this is new. But coach Mike Yeo is stressing to the team that it needs to get back to what it was doing earlier in the season when the wins were coming in bunches.

Yeo's message? "Get back to work," he said. "Let's get excited about coming to the rink tomorrow and playing against Nashville. Let's give ourselves a great chance to win the hockey game.''

Yeo has been talking about getting shots on net all season. To him, that has again become a problem, particularly on the power play. According to Yeo, there were several chances for players to get good shots on net on the power play against Colorado that were passed up. Yeo feels too many people on the team are trying  to do it all themselves in order to help the team break out of its slump. Sometimes that leads to over-passing.

"We want to win so bad, but we have to make sure we're doing the right things here," Yeo said. "We have to get that focus in our head that we'll go out and play our game. We'll do what we do well, and do it shift after shift."


Meanwhile, Yeo talked at a bit more length about Cody McLeod's hit on Jared Spurgeon. He has a lower body injury, according to Yeo. The Wild is awaiting the results of a doctor appointment Spurgeon had this afternoon. But, Yeo said, he didn't think the injury, at this point, looked like a long-term thing.

But more reaction to the hit. "I hate to see our players get hit like that," Yeo said. "To me, that was a really dirty play. He was in a very vulnerable position, and it happened twice in the brief amount of time (Spurgeon) was in the game. The same player."

Yeo often preaches the benefit of finishing checks in the opposition's end. Play physically enough and perhaps the defenseman in question will eventually make a mistake. But there is a difference, he said, between doing that legally and the way it was done by McLeod. Yeo said he suspected Spurgeon was a target, in the sense of a smaller defenseman who might be vulnerable to physical play.

"I'm sure they said this is a guy we have to target," Yeo said. "this is a guy we have to be physical on, finish every chance we get. I understand that. But do it within the rules. Jared has grown up his whole life having to deal with that. But when you're face-first into the glass and completely defenseless, its' not the time to do it. .. You have to have a respect factor there."


In other news, neither Spurgeon nor Clayton Stoner (lower body) went with the team to Nashville. Indeed the Wild announced that Stoner had been placed on injured reserve. Both defenseman Nate Prosser and right wing Jon DiSalvatore were called up from Houston.

DiSalvatore, 30, is Houston's captain. He leads the team with 26 points (10-16--26) in 32 games. He had 61 points in 80 games last season.

Prosser, 25, has four assists in 14 games during two stints with the Wild this season.






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