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 front office watches soon-to-be locked-out NHLers; Parise, Granlund speak

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: September 14, 2012 - 2:58 PM

The Wild brass, from General Manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr, to coach Mike Yeo and assistant Darryl Sydor, attended today's soon-to-be locked-out player-skate (pretty-catchy, eh?) at the St. Louis Park Rec Center this morning.

Through glass, they looked like sad puppies with the realization that a week from today, players won't report as scheduled to training camp.

OK, that was me. By the way, I'll be on KFAN at 4:20 p.m. with Dan Barreiro, and if the timing works out, I'll be on with Dave Schwartz on KARE-11 at 5 or 6 Saturday night.

Fletcher and Yeo, by the way, understandably won't be commenting on the pending lockout in any upcoming articles because of the potential fines that come with violating the NHL gag order. Fletcher will spend a lot of time scouting, like especially Flahr, and spend a lot of time with Aeros GM Jim Mill in Houston.

Yeo can watch Houston but can't take part. Houston will open camp Sept. 28, but the team is awaiting word from the NHL if they're allowed to open the first couple days here in Minnesota or if it has to be in Houston.

The lockout officially begins at 11 p.m. CT Saturday, not tonight, as Zach Parise thought: "Oh, so there's plenty of time," he said, sarcastically.

Starting Saturday night, Parise will be a locked-out NHLer like 600+ of his brethren. Starting next week, Parise and his fellow Minnesota-based NHLers, which include Wild teammates and guys like BIG, BIG Dustin Byfuglien, Paul Martin and Keith Ballard, will organize what Matt Cullen joked will be a "glorified beer league -- without the beer" most likely in St. Louis Park four days a week for an indefinite period.

"We'll make something work," Parise said. "It is strange. It's unfortunate that that's where we are right now."

But if the lockout goes awhile, players like Parise have already started to "very loosely" investigate playing overseas. Remember, Parise missed a lot of time two years ago with a knee injury, so "I can’t sit out basically two of my last three seasons. It’s not good. There’s risks involved. It’s a scary thing with insurance and the possibility of getting hurt. I think these next couple weeks will be really important. We’ll get more of a feel.

Are we going to keep talking or is this going to end?"

Today, Wild prospects Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Johan Larsson and Jason Zucker skated with the NHLers. But they had to leave with their gear because according to Stephane Veilleux, the locked-out NHLers won't be allowed to skate with reassigned prospects or players (to Houston). So a lot of the Wild prospects may wind up skating at St. Thomas Academy next week.

Today, the Wild officially assigned 25 players to Houston: D Drew Bagnall, C Joel Broda, D Jonas Brodin, RW Brett Bulmer, D Josh Caron, D Brian Connelly, RW Charlie Coyle, D Tyler Cuma, RW Justin Fontaine, LW Kris Foucault, D Chay Genoway, C Mikael Granlund, G Matt Hackett, D Colton Jobke, D Steven Kampfer, G Darcy Kuemper, LW Johan Larsson, C David McIntyre, RW Carson McMillan, D Kyle Medvec, RW Jarod Palmer, C Zack Philips, C Chad Rau, D Marco Scandella and LW Jason Zucker.

Matt Dumba was assigned to WHL Red Deer.

Granlund talked about playing in Houston: "I'm excited. I'm here and we'll see what will happen. I'll try to work out hard and that's all I think about right now. This is how it goes. Now, looks like I'm going to Houston, and I'll just try to be ready for the games down there and play good. That's all I can do.

"It's going to be a good league this year. It's going to be tough games, which will be good for us."

 As of now, no CBA talks scheduled between the NHL and NHLPA. Happy lockout everyone.

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