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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Gophers drop to 4, and frankly, who cares?; Hackett, Larsson lead Aeros to victory

Posted by: Michael Russo under Gophers, Wild off-season news Updated: November 19, 2012 - 3:01 PM


There's been some Gophers men's hockey news, although it's a lot less exciting than what's going on with the football program.

Rankings are out, and the Gophers, coming off a second consecutive 1-0-1 weekend, have slipped from No. 3 to No. 4 in both the USCHO.com poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

New Hampshire has hopped over the Gophers to No. 3 with Boston College and Denver still 1-2.

The University of North Dakota is 7 and St. Cloud State is 12 in both polls.

This is my first time ever covering college hockey. No offense to anybody who creates these polls or votes in these polls, but I could care less about the polls and where the Gophers are ranked.

I feel about polls the same way I feel about NHL power rankings. They're meaningless. I remember last December when the Wild was the No. 1 team in the NHL, Wild fans were freaking that the Wild wasn't getting the respect of the power-ranking compilers.

The Wild finally got the attention of the national media, jumped in the polls and promptly went on a 50-game tailspin.

Polls mean squat. Power rankings mean even less because it's not some committee voting; it's some reporter in a dark room investing 10 minutes max into the effort of compiling a list.

Where you are at the end of the year is the only thing that matters.

Now, how good are the Gophers? No clue yet. Obviously they've got some issues to work out, but the good news if you're a Gophers rube is there's plenty of time left in this season to get their act together. And, as for this past weekend, they played in two very good, entertaining games, and especially Saturday, I thought they played real well.

I'll have more from the Gophers after availability on Wednesday. They head to Vermont for the first time in history this weekend.

Speaking of the Gophers, I chatted briefly with Mikael Granlund, who is working his way back from a sprained ankle, yesterday. He did make it to Friday's Gophers-Badgers game with fellow injured Wild prospect Jonas Brodin and assistant coach Rick Wilson. Granlund said he loved the atmosphere and watching his buddy, Erik Haula, score a goal and assist.

"He's going to be a great player someday," Granlund said of Haula.

The Aeros are on their way back to Houston as we speak. They beat Rockford 3-2 last night at the X with Matt Hackett playing by far his best game of the season with 34 saves, Johan Larsson scoring twice, including a big shorthanded goal, and Justin Fontaine scoring once.

The Aeros did not play well, especially the first 10 minutes when they looked nervous in front of the Wild crowd. Bad passes and turnovers a foot inside the blue line constantly.

But Fontaine settled things down with the goal, and then Hackett, who has had a tough go this season, went to work.

Still, it seemed fun for the fans to get a taste of pro hockey and a look at some of the Wild's future. I did a story on Charlie Coyle and some of that future at this link.

The NHL and NHLPA will get back in a room tonight in Manhattan. Reportedly, there's a good amount of players coming in for the meeting and maybe some fresh NHL faces, like GM's. Preliminary reports say maybe guys like Joe Nieuwendyk (Dallas) and Lou Lamoriello (New Jersey).

Don't think any of the names have actually been confirmed yet. As of this morning, I was told Wild owner Craig Leipold, who is on the negotiating committee, was not attending, but that could obviously change. Leipold got into it with Chris Campoli at the Nov. 9 meeting, so maybe that's a good thing for now.

Meeting starts at 7 p.m. ET. Sources say Toronto GM Brian Burke, Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs, Washington owned Ted Leonsis and Calgary owner Murray Edwards are expected to attend. Those are three of the four members of the negotiating committee. Leipold is the other, and he won't be there, I'm told.

The name calling needs to stop though. Ian White calls Gary Bettman an idiot the other day. Kris Versteeg called Bettman and Bill Daly a cancer today. Bettman accuses a reporter of "fabrication" and insults the players intelligence in a Winnipeg Q&A.

Everybody needs to grow up, get to the table, act like adults and do what's best for the game and their livelihoods.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 97 4th Qtr 1:17
Phoenix 101
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 3rd Prd 14:40
Los Angeles 2
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 62 2nd Half 7:11
Washington 44
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
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