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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Wild veteran Matt Cullen on looming lockout: "I don’t know how that will be avoided"

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: September 11, 2012 - 4:54 PM

The Octagon pro hockey camp at the St. Louis Park Rec Center will take the day off Wednesday because so many players are heading to New York for two days of NHLPA meetings with Executive Director Donald Fehr.

More than 280 players are expected to be heading to New York for the meetings. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are two, and Parise said he leaves in the morning.

The NHL Board of Governors meet in New York on Thursday. The lockout should officially start at 11 p.m. CT Saturday.

Considering both sides aren't even meeting to bridge the sizeable gap and yesterday there were some terse words from Fehr and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly shot at the other's respective bows, even the optimistic Matt Cullen has resigned himself to the fact that there will be a lockout.

"I don’t know how that will be avoided," Cullen said this morning. "I don’t think that they're close enough right now for anything."

But Cullen believes that even though a lockout "technically" would start Sept. 15, he feels the "real deadline" is later as we get closer to the start of camps opening Sept. 21 and the NHL season opening Oct. 11 and that an agreement can be reached quickly."I just don’t really feel like the optimism has died," Cullen said. "We’re still over a week out from camp starting. I think once you get close to camp, then the real stuff starts, the real negotiations start. Everybody right now is posturing. As we get closer to some real deadlines, hopefully things will start to get done.

 

"As soon as there’s a deadline in there anywhere, that's when people start coming to the table to talk. I think that this deal will get done. I don’t feel there’s a reason for things to be so far apart. I think we’re really close to being in the same ballpark. I feel like it’ll happen fast."

I hope he's right. I don't get the same feeling -- other than the fact there will be a lockout.

"I was in the car the other day and my five-year-old asked me, 'Is there going to be lockout, dad?' I was like, 'How do you even know what the word is?' It’s no fun," Cullen said.

At the Octagon camp today, among others were Wild players Parise, Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck, Josh Harding, Stephane Veilleux, Jake Dowell, Jonas Brodin, Jason Zucker and Johan Larsson. Also there were BIG Dustin Byfuglien, John Scott, Paul Martin, Colin White and Kyle Okposo.

Players are starting to trickle in for, allegedly, the start of training camp. Captain Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi and Mikael Granlund arrived yesterday. Koivu came down to St. Louis Park today to say hi to some of his teammates and meet Parise.

Zucker, Larsson and Brodin are living together in an apartment this month. By the way, a few Wild players were raving about how good Brodin in. Also by the way, the Wild is considering having the first couple days of Houston's training camp at Xcel Energy Center. That camp starts Sept. 28. That decision should come this week.

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