Zidlicky sits as rift widens

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 16, 2012 - 11:43 PM

Mike Yeo is laying down the gauntlet with disgruntled defenseman Marek Zidlicky.

Wild defensemen Marek Zidlicky

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Mike Yeo is laying down the gauntlet with disgruntled defenseman Marek Zidlicky.

The Wild coach scratched Zidlicky on Thursday vs. Winnipeg, a day after Zidlicky's agent said his client would waive his no-trade clause to go to New Jersey.

Often times in situations like this, a player who is close to being traded is scratched in order to protect him from injury. Tampa Bay is currently doing that with Pavel Kubina; Carolina probably wishes it had done that with now-injured Tuomo Ruutu.

That doesn't appear to be the motivation with Zidlicky. This was Yeo's decision, not management's, although GM Chuck Fletcher supported it.

Yeo believes Zidlicky is not "all in" right now. Focus-wise, Yeo said, "I'm making an assumption that his head would not be in the right place to play this game."

Fletcher has been talking to other teams about Zidlicky, who requested a trade Jan. 31. But Fletcher has yet to ask Zidlicky to formally waive his no-trade for any destination.

"I don't know what's going on, and that's speaking honestly," Yeo said. "I don't know what's going to happen."

If the Wild doesn't trade Zidlicky quickly or at all, Yeo was asked if he plans on playing Zidlicky again.

"He would have to prove, just like every one of our players, that he's all in to what we want to do, and if you do that, and if you go out and show that night in and night, then absolutely," Yeo said. "Anybody who's here, we will treat them as part of the team. We will use every resource we will to be at our best every night."

Zidlicky was unavailable for comment, according to Wild media relations.

Clutterbuck returns

Cal Clutterbuck returned after missing a game because of his third charley horse of the season.

"I just keep getting kneed," he said. "I'm going to start using extra, extra protection. I need to beef up my pants because there's one spot where there's like no padding that I keep getting hit."

Cody Almond played his ninth game with Carson McMillan hurt. Jeff Taffe was scratched, along with Winnipeg's Justin Falk. Mike Lundin dressed for Zidlicky.

Miettinen feels at home ...

Antti Miettinen, who spent the past three seasons with the Wild, made his first return to Minnesota. The Jets claimed him off waivers Dec. 13.

Miettinen spent the first part of the season with Kazan of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. Asked why he signed with the KHL instead of the NHL, he said: "That's what I've been wondering, too. At that time, things guided the head a little bit."

Miettinen said he didn't mind the hockey in Russia, but "for my family, it was tough." He was particularly spooked when a plane crash killed every Lokomotiv player Sept. 7.

"The planes weren't that great that we were flying, but after the accident, every team changed planes to better, modern ones like Boeing and Airbus," Miettinen said.

... and so does Wheeler

Jets leading scorer Blake Wheeler loves playing at Xcel Energy Center.

He led Breck to a Class 1A state title in 2004 with a hat trick against Orono. Then as a Gopher, he had a hat trick against Wisconsin in the 2007 WCHA Final Five semifinals before scoring in overtime against North Dakota to lift the Gophers to the title.

"Whenever I come back here and drive by this building, I always take a trip down memory lane," said Wheeler, who assisted on the Jets' first goal.

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