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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Aeros roster filling up with Wild prospects; Donald Fehr's greatest hits as lockout approaches

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: September 13, 2012 - 2:03 PM

Even though this was expected for weeks if no deal was close between the NHL and the Players’ Association, the reality of an NHL lockout hit this morning when NHL clubs placed nearly 60 players on waivers for the purpose of being assigned to their American Hockey League affiliates in the event of a work stoppage.

 
As I reported yesterday, the Wild actually assigned more than 20 players today, but most of those names didn’t require waivers.
 
Drew Bagnall, Brian Connolly, Chay Genoway, Carson McMillan and Jarod Palmer did, and thus can technically be plucked off waivers by 11 a.m. Friday. However, they presumably won’t and will be assigned to Houston with the rest of the lot.
 
Stephane Veilleux and Jake Dowell were not placed on waivers, so they will not be in Houston.
 
The Wild hasn’t announced what players it has assigned because it’s not done informing all of them, but my guess is the same as yesterday: Mikael Granlund, Marco Scandella, Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker, Zack Phillips, Tyler Cuma, Chad Rau, Steve Kampfer, Kyle Medvec, Justin Fontaine, David McIntyre, Joel Broda, Kris Foucault, Josh Caron and Colton Jobke.
 
As previously mentioned, Jared Spurgeon will not be sent to Houston, nor 2012 first-round pick Matt Dumba because he is not eligible.
 
Sean Lorenz is on an AHL deal, so he doesn’t need to be “assigned.”
 
Nick Palmieri is technically holding out (see yesterday’s blog).
 
Should be a good team, those Aeros. If you want to watch games, NBC Sports Network may air some AHL games, but all games should be streamed online at AHL Live, which can be purchased on ahl.com.
 
Also, all Aeros game radio broadcasts are free on aeros.com. You’ll be in the capable hands of Joe O’Donnell, who can also be followed on Twitter at @aero-joe.

So, it’ll all be about the Aeros during the lockout. In fact, maybe Aeros GM Jim Mill should just get it over with and move into Chuck Fletcher’s office while he’s in New York for the Board of Governors meeting.
 
I kid, I kid.
 
As for Fox Sports North, it’s preparing a package of “Classic Wild” games during the lockout, presumably full of 2003 playoff games (Andrew Brunette’s heroics), a certain 5-goal game by a former player, a certain third period comeback against Chicago.
 
FSN obviously has a full slate of programming with Twins, Wolves, Gophers hockey and high school games, so right now it has said it is looking into the possibility of airing some Aeros games on the network. But that’s not a guarantee and obviously wouldn’t be all anyway.
 
As for the lockout, Executive Director of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, had a press conference today in New York, where he was flanked by some of the game’s biggest stars – Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Daniel Alfredsson, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Zdeno Chara, Ryan Getzlaf, Jason Spezza and none other than Wild forward Zach Parise were in camera’s view.
 
The mic was open for 10 minutes before Fehr came out, so everything was heard, like Crosby and Getzlaf talking about their golf games.
 
Parise reportedly said similar comments today as he did to me last week – that Commissioner Gary Bettman loves himself a lockout.
 
Of course, it’s not as if Bettman is working independently here. He does work for 30 ownership groups, so obviously he’s at their direction.
 
But I get the player frustration.
 
Fehr said there were no new developments and he wouldn’t comment if there would be an NHLPA or NHL offer before Saturday’s 11 p.m. lockout deadline.
 
Lots of similar rhetoric from Fehr: a lockout is a choice from the owners, the owners want the players to absorb all the burden, etc.
 
Some of Fehr’s greatest hits:
 
On a lockout: “If it comes to that, it was a choice being made [by the NHL]. It’s not a requirement.”
 
That the owners originally wanted a 24 percent rollback, now is down to 17.5 percent.
 
The players want “shared sacrifice. … Is there any other cost or expense … anywhere in which the owners are prepared to say we’ll constrain expenses, too?” He added, so far, “no.”
 
Fehr said after all the concessions the owners received the last lockout, they want to “see what else they can get.” [Russo note: This is a common theme, but the last CBA worked out pretty, pretty good for the players, which is why we’re in this position again. Accelerated free agency, exorbitant second contracts, long-term deals, no-trade clauses given out like candy, 57 percent of a $3.3 billion business].
 
Fehr said all the owners are interested in is talking about salary reductions and that he’s surprised and “significantly disappointed” that the league’s richer teams, according to Fehr, are not willing to aid the teams struggling through significant, meaningful and innovative revenue sharing.
 
"We'd like agreement that stabilizes this industry, allows markets that need to grow to grow."
 
Fehr also said that after a work stoppage, the players are free to reconsider their positions. I think Fehr’s objective here is to go after the salary cap, which would be a non-starter for the NHL. If he does, forget this season. But I really believe that’s his end-game. That’s why he keeps mentioning that the only sport with labor peace since 1994 is baseball.
 
He fought against the cap then, it cost baseball the World Series and baseball eventually gave up on it.
 
Board of Governors availability is in 30 minutes. I’ll get on the conference call with Bettman and pass along his greatest hits. I’m assuming that Wild owner Craig Leipold still has to follow league guidelines as far as a public gag order.

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