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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Winnipeg Jets visit the X tonight; My famous Rochester story

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate, Wild training camp Updated: September 21, 2013 - 12:55 PM

Tonight at 7 at the X, the Wild and Winnipeg Jets -- two of the four new teams in the realigned Central Division (Colorado and Dallas joining Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis) -- face off at the X.

No TV (SO STOP ASKING). angry

Can be visualized though on the @russostrib Twitter network and heard on KFAN (100.3-FM).

No real happenings at the morning skate. I spent most my time working ahead on upcoming stories, including a little feature on Grand Rapids' own Kurt Kleinendorst, the Wild's new American Hockey League coach in Des Moines, for tomorrow's Star Tribune.

A lot of power-play work in today's skate. The No. 1 unit tonight will likely be the No. 1 unit to start the season: Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley-Jason Pominville-Ryan Suter and the No. 2 unit is intriguing: Nino Niederreiter-Charlie Coyle-Mikael Granlund-Jared Spurgeon-Jonas Brodin.

The rosters are on my Twitter account, but it's the Wild lineup I provided yesterday (the Haulas, Fontaines, etc), and it looks like guys like Zenon Konopka, Jake Dowell, Keith Ballard, Clayton Stoner and Carson McMillan, whom coach Mike Yeo has been very happy with, are in.

Niklas Backstrom in the blue paint.

The Jets' lineup includes goalie Ondrej Pavelec and Jacon Trouba (Rochester, Michigan, not New York or Minnesota), Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler ("one of us), Tobias (Toby these days) Enstrom, Mark Scheifele, Big Buff ("one of us") and Rochester's own Mark Stuart ("one of us")

I ever tell you my Rochester story? This is my ninth season covering the Wild. My first was in 2005 after just moving here from God's country, uh, Florida.

The last exhibition game that preseason was against the Buffalo Sabres in Rochester. It was a whirlwind month for me, having accepted the job and moving my life here in like 5 days, starting to write immediately, getting used to covering a new team after years of covering America's team, uh, the Florida Panthers.

The road exhibition games that month were covered by Kent Youngblood so I could get some logistics down with the move. But I'd cover the last game in Rochester because that would essentially be the team that makes it.

So, anyway, we're a few weeks into camp and I finally feel I start to get accustomed to things and able to take a deep breath. I get on this Northwest regional jet aimed for Rochester, NY.

The guy next to me after we take off asks why I'm flying to Rochester. I say, "to cover the Wild play a preseason game." He goes, "Oh, that's weird." I go, "why?" He goes, "you'd think they'd be playing in Rochester, Minnesota."

I immediately get horrified. I had never even known there was a Rochester, Minnesota. I had never heard of Rochester, Minnesota. My bag is under the plane. I have no way of checking to make sure the Wild are actually playing in Rochester, NY, not Rochester, Minnesota.

For the next two hours, I am sick to my stomach, sweating profusely, thinking that my first-ever road trip on the Star Tribune's dime after they hired this alleged experienced hockey writer was to the wrong Rochester!!! I spent $600 on a flight that really should have been an hour's drive? How the heck do I explain that to sports editor Glen Crevier?

We land in Rochester. I sprint off the plane and now have to wait on the tarmac for my bag to come out of the cargo hold. Finally, it comes, I rip it open, and alas, I'm in the right city.

Woah.

All went well in Rochester from there, well, except for Mikko Koivu spraining his MCL against the Sabres and seeing his NHL debut put on hold, and except for the fact that my story for that next day's paper was MIKKO KOIVU ABOUT TO MAKE HIS NHL DEBUT FINALLY!

Anyway, now I indeed know there is a Rochester, Minnesota. I've now indeed have heard of the Mayo Clinic. I indeed know that Mark Stuart's dad is one of the biggest sports medicine experts around, Dr. Michael Stuart.

I've learned a lot in my many years as a hockey writer -- like how to fill up a blog when there's absolutely no news to provide.

Talk to you after the game.

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