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 to open training camp at Xcel; Backstrom injured, delays KHL signing

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: September 20, 2012 - 4:21 PM

The ice is being installed in Xcel Energy Center, but it won't be used for the Wild's training camp.

With the NHL locked out, the Wild has gotten permission to have the first three days of American Hockey League affiliate Houston's training camp at Xcel Energy Center. It begins Sept. 28 with two open-to-the-public, free scrimmages on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30.

The Sept. 29 scrimmage begins at 11 a.m. with Gate 1 opening at 10:30. The Sept. 30 scrimmage begins at 10 a.m. with Gate 1 opening at 9:30.

The Aeros, coached by NHL and minor-league veteran coach John Torchetti, will have an array of Wild prospects to guide this season with assistants Mike Van Ryn and Sebasien Laplante. Bob Mason is the goalie coach.

Down in Houston will be first-round picks Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, Zack Phillips and Tyler Cuma, second-round picks Marco Scandella, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson and Jason Zucker, third-round pick Matt Hackett, fourth-round picks Kris Foucault, Kyle Medvec and Sean Lorenz (AHL deal), sixth-round pick Darcy Kuemper (expected to be good to go from season-ending shoulder surgery last year) and seventh-round pick Carson McMillan.

Those are the guys drafted by the Wild. Others down there include likely captain Drew Bagnall, Brian Connolly, Chad Rau, Jarod Palmer, Steven Kampfer, David McIntyre, Justin Fontaine, Chay Genoway, Kris Fredheim, Joel Broda, Josh Caron and Colton Jobke (another year of junior eligibility if he doesn't make the team).

Nick Palmieri is on the roster, remains unsigned but may be at camp apparently. If he stays, he would have to sign an AHL deal at this point.

On the chat the other day, somebody asked me whom I thought would be captain. After considering it with more time, it will almost certainly be Bagnall. He is a five-year AHL pro, is turning 29 and was Manchester's captain during its long playoff run in 2010. He was also a key blue-liner for the Aeros during their long run two years ago.

No chance the Wild just anoints a prospect as captain. You have to earn that.

Other potential guys: McMillan and Scandella. But this will be Bagnall's team, so the hard-nosed blue liner is the obviously choice.

But if you're dying for hockey, those Aeros scrimmages should give you a little hockey buzz, and the price is right. Remember also, the Aeros will play Rockford at 5 p.m. Nov. 18. Season-ticket holders get free tickets. For others, tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at the X, wild.com, aeros.com or Ticketmaster.

At both scrimmages next weekend, Xcel Energy Center will serve as a drop-off location for the fourth annual Used Hockey Equipment Drive, a partnership between the Wild, Let’s Play Hockey and Minnesota Hockey. Fans that donate used equipment at the scrimmages will be entered to win autographed Aeros merchandise. Five prizes will be awarded during each scrimmage. From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 6, the collected equipment will be distributed to hockey associations and at Xcel Energy Center.

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Niklas Backstrom's strange journey from Milan to Minsk (Seinfeld reference, Rochelle, Rochelle) is on hold.

According to sources, he suffered an ankle injury during Tuesday's Minnesota-based locked-out skate in St. Louis Park. All my quotes from him about possibly signing with KHL Dinamo Minsk on the blog a few days ago came after the apparent injury, but I do remember he was limping and over the past few days, I did confirm he got hurt in the skate.

He did not skate with the NHLers today.

Sources say the injury is minor though. It, however, is hampering him enough where he won't be able to sign on the dotted line right now with Minsk and will thus stay here in Minnesota for a little while. If the spot with Minsk remains open for a few weeks, Backstrom could still sign. But right now it's up in the air.

I have a call into Backstrom but haven't heard back yet. I am not sure if it's the same ankle that was bothering him most of last season. He had minor surgery on that ankle in April.

Update: Just talked to another source. Backstrom apparently rolled his ankle training in Helsinki a few weeks ago, then aggravated it the other day in the skate. It is not major, and it is the opposite ankle from the one operated on.

Happy lockout everyone!

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St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 5
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
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Milwaukee 1
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Texas 3
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Kansas City 11 FINAL
Cleveland 9
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Los Angeles 7
Colorado 0 FINAL
LA Angels 3
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Arizona 2
Pittsburgh 0 Top 2nd Inning
NY Yankees 0
Chicago 11 1st Qtr 3:38
Indiana 19
Sacramento 16 1st Qtr 3:44
Orlando 21
Utah 19 1st Qtr 2:35
Philadelphia 16
Miami 13 1st Qtr 3:00
Washington 31
Toronto 19 1st Qtr 2:25
Charlotte 23
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
Houston
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Memphis
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Brooklyn
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
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Golden State
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Minnesota 1 1st Prd 7:00
Carolina 0
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 6:30 PM
Detroit
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Chicago
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Anaheim
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Char Southern 60
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Illinois State 71
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High Point 50
Samford 48 2nd Half 11:29
UNC Greensboro 51
Northern Ill 6 1st Half 9:28
Ball State 13
Bowling Green 14 1st Half 9:41
Buffalo 12
Brown 28 1st Half 6:25
Dartmouth 14
Toledo 18 1st Half 7:47
Eastern Mich 14
Akron 18 1st Half 6:12
Kent State 25
Ill-Chicago 11 1st Half 7:56
Oakland 24
Miami-Ohio 12 1st Half 11:03
Ohio 25
Columbia 5 1st Half 7:55
Penn 16
Cornell 19 1st Half 6:51
Princeton 24
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Western Mich 20
Bradley 5 1st Half 10:09
Northern Iowa 12
Morehead State 6:30 PM
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Harvard
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Citadel
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Cleveland State
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Eastern Ky
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Santa Clara
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Los Angeles
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(21) George Washington 77
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(16) Duke 77
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(17) Chattanooga 68
Monmouth 61 FINAL
Quinnipiac 82
Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
Belmont 65 FINAL
UT Martin 71
Arkansas 36 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 58
Mercer 56 FINAL
East Tenn St 66
Richmond 45 FINAL
Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Siena 61 FINAL
Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
Ark-Pine Bluff 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 57 FINAL
(24) Northwestern 62
Tennessee St 71 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 59
Loyola Marymount 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
(18) Texas A&M 65 FINAL
LSU 71
Cincinnati 76 FINAL
UCF 66
Saint Josephs 61 FINAL
Dayton 80
UCLA 62 FINAL
(19) Stanford 67
Santa Clara 42 FINAL
San Diego 51
Virginia Tech 25 2nd Half 9:05
(7) Florida State 64
SMU 31 2nd Half 15:48
Memphis 41
Lehigh 60 2nd Half 7:48
Holy Cross 45
Rhode Island 20 1st Half 8:31
Duquesne 17
North Florida 8 1st Half 8:17
(20) Fla Gulf Coast 21
Kennesaw St 12 1st Half 10:27
Jacksonville 14
USC Upstate 7 1st Half 11:08
Northern Ky 12
Lipscomb 15 1st Half 7:27
Stetson 28
Nebraska 24 1st Half 7:33
(14) Iowa 28
Saint Peters 15 1st Half 6:52
Marist 13
Navy 14 1st Half 8:03
Bucknell 16
Lafayette 13 1st Half 12:00
American Univ 17
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Army 12
Georgia 9 1st Half 7:53
(5) Tennessee 20
Dartmouth 17 1st Half 8:17
Brown 13
Penn 16 1st Half 8:37
Columbia 8
(13) Princeton 33 1st Half 6:18
Cornell 15
Kansas 6 1st Half 8:34
Kansas State 14
Harvard 32 1st Half 3:48
Yale 26
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
San Jose St 7:00 PM
UNLV
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
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Niagara 8:30 PM
Fairfield
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
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