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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Granlund's AHL Rookie of the Month; Brunette: "One foot in the grave, one foot on the ice"

Posted by: Michael Russo under Gophers, Wild off-season news Updated: November 1, 2012 - 5:12 PM

On the day Zach Parise was destined to be named NHL Player of the Month , the Wild instead must be satisfied with AHL accolades because of this stinkin' lockout that hit Day 47 today.

Mikael Granlund, the Wild's highly-touted 2010 first-round pick, was named AHL Rookie of the Month after his inaugural month as a North American pro. He is the top-scoring rookie forward in the AHL with 10 points in seven games and is plus-5.

Granlund's riding a six-game point streak into this weekend's series at Oklahoma City (Edmonton No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall will make his AHL debut) -- highlighted by a four-point game in a 5-3 win against Texas.

Rookie Justin Schultz of Oklahoma City, the former Wisconsin defenseman that chose to sign with the Edmonton Oilers over finalists that included the Wild, was named AHL Player of the Month. So again: The rookie that was Player of the Month didn't win Rookie of the Month. I made note of that on Twitter. Funny tweet to me in response by a guy named @thegreatganzy: "@Russostrib it's like Beyonce losing to Taylor Swift at the VMAs and then winning video of the year."

Also, Nick Petersen, on an AHL deal with the Wild, was named ECHL Player of the Month. He leads the league with six goals and 14 points for Orlando.

Tonight: the Wild, if not for the lockout, would be hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings before embarking on a six-game road trip tomorrow to Tampa, Boston, the Rangers, Detroit, New Jersey (Parise's homecoming) and Philadelphia. That's a bulk of frequent flier miles I'm missing out on!

I talked with Andrew Brunette today on the phone as he walked his golden retriever around Lake Elmo. Brunette, whose rookie year was my rookie year covering the league (1995-96) and who scored his first-ever goal at Miami Arena with me in the building (1996 with Washington), knows he very well could be done playing hockey.

He said he would still be interested in playing if there was the right fit, but he knows because of the lockout (with a big chuckle), "I've got one foot in the grave and one foot on the ice with the casket slowly creaking to a close."

Brunette, 39, who played two stints for the Wild, has scored 268 goals and 733 points in 1,110 regular-season games over 16 seasons. He is fourth in Wild history with 489 games, second with 119 goals, second with 55 power-play goals, fourth with 202 assists and fourth with 321 points.

"Bruno waited until he was almost 30 for his real chance, and he's going to go away? It's a shame, although he'll be OK financially because he drinks the cheapest beer on the planet. He'll be fine," said Brunette's former Atlanta teammate Ray Ferraro.

I relayed that quote to Brunette and he literally laughed for like 2 minutes: "He's a quote a minute that guy. He's such a good broadcaster. He's very good at what he does." 

Brunette said if he doesn't return, he would like to stay in the game in some capacity, whether it's broadcasting or working inside an organization.

Also, St. Paul has been awarded one of the 2014 NCAA regionals. You can read about that on Roman's blog here. Also, the Gophers open a weekend home-and-home series Friday night against Minnesota State. Roman touched on the Mavericks yesterday in his blog here.

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