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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Coyle's video goes viral, and he moves to Wild first line

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: December 14, 2013 - 10:10 AM

Charlie Coyle, who will move from second-line center back to first-line right wing (as you know, where I believe he belongs) Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche, talked this afternoon at the Pepsi Center about making the young child's day with a simple wave Sunday in Minnesota during warmups.

The video has gone viral.

"I didn’t do it to become like a celebrity or anything," Coyle said, laughing. "I thought it would cool. Like if I was younger, I remember being in that situation, so I thought it would be a cool thing to do, so I just did it not knowing anybody was watching. My mom called me after, ‘I saw you do that, that was great.’ (laughing). I think it’s pretty cool for the kid to make him happy. Just a little thing that goes a long way, I think."

Plus, the kid looks like a little Charlie Coyle.

Good afternoon from the old-school press room at the Pepsi Center, where they have dial-up phones. Seriously, they still exist. Look at the pic I put on my Twitter account, www.twitter.com/russostrib.

A few of the Wild guys are down at the University of Denver practicing. Most guys worked off the ice here at the arena. The ice sheet is covered because the Nuggets host the Utah Jazz tonight.

As reported earlier, the Iowa revolving door, uh, revolved again today when Erik Haula was brought back and Jason Zucker was reassigned.

This is the move I was convinced would happen prior to last night's game. When I turned on my phone as we landed in San Jose, I said to my colleague from across the river, 'Just watch, Haula for Zucker.' Instead, it was Brett Bulmer up, Zucker scratched.

I just think the Wild needs to get Coyle back to first-line right wing, spread the wealth so to speak by putting Jason Pominville back at second-line right wing and have Haula center the second line.

That's exactly what will happen Saturday night against the Avs when the Wild tries to snap a five-game road losing skid. The Wild has been outscored 14-4 in these five road games and have been down 2-0 in each.

"We need to find a way to create a little more offense here, and Haula, we liked his game when he was here, especially when he played center," coach Mike Yeo said. "He showed speed, he showed he had a good stick, smart player and we’ll give him a chance."

Yesterday morning, Yeo said he didn't want to break up the first line to get the second line going.

Yeo said today, "Things change. I actually really liked Charlie’s game last game. I thought he was a real force at center. I don’t know where it’s going to go. Maybe a period into tomorrow we go back to having Pommer back there with Mikko and Charlie back in the middle, I don’t know, but we want to definitely give it a shot and see what he can do."

The question now is who will join Mike Rupp as the other healthy scratch forward tomorrow for the Wild. Yeo already said it won't be Brett Bulmer. He really liked his game against San Jose.

Will it be Zenon Konopka? They probably need him at center. Will it be Justin Fontaine or Torrey Mitchell?

Or could it even be Dany Heatley? As we know, the Wild typically would choose Fontaine or Mitchell even over the veteran Heatley, and Yeo said he "actually" liked Heatley's game in San Jose. He logged eight minutes, didn't have a shot, but he got pucks deep and didn't turn pucks over.

The Wild has been doing everything possible to avoid what may soon be the inevitable.

Could it be coming?

"I’m still hoping it’s not," Yeo said. "I still have faith – and you look at where he’s at statistically on our team, it’s not like he’s at the bottom, so he’s still a guy that’s capable of scoring goals for a team that hasn’t been scoring a lot of goals. To say that it’s been easy, it’s been hard for sure. We feel bad for him, and all his teammates do, too. We wish things were going better. That said, what do we do about it, how do we work our way out of it?"

As I've written over and over again, the second the Wild couldn't buy out Heatley last summer because of season-ending shoulder surgery, the second the entire complexion of the summer changed and that has had lasting effects on this season.

By not being able to buy out Heatley in a sinking-cap world, Tom Gilbert lost his job and the Wild had to make the decision to move past second-line center Matt Cullen and trade Devin Setoguchi to get cap compliant.

The second that happened, that meant the Wild put all its eggs in the young-kid basket. That meant a bunch of 21-year-olds like Coyle, Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund would make the team. They should eventually be great players, but they're developing. They're not finished products and they're not able yet to produce on a consistent basis.

That is one big reason why the Wild has had such trouble scoring.

"I’m not trying to make excuses because I think it’s one of the strengths of our team is the youth that we have and the room for growth," Yeo said. "As these guys get better and as they grow, then our team is going to get better and grow and they’ve already proven that they’re very capable NHL players. The amount of players that we have below the age of 23 that we have playing in a significant forward role, the amount of players we have below the age of 23 in our top 4 defense, we definitely have a very young group that we’re asking a lot of and I think that we’ve seen that a lot of the times with the scoring and I think that we’ve seen that sometimes with the road woes that we’ve had too."

Yeo also met with the young forwards and told them that they can't just go with the flow. In other words, young kids also just follow the leaders, so if there's a night where Mikko Koivu or Zach Parise are having off-nights, the young kids have to take charge and step up the way a Logan Couture does in San Jose if a Joe Thornton's having an off-night. Now, Couture has developed into a true star and has been in the league a lot younger, but Yeo wants his kids to start trying to be more of a force.

If it doesn't happen, this could be a long second half. A lot is really riding on the Niederreiters and Coyles and now Haulas and hopefully soon again, the Granlunds.

Talk to you after Saturday's morning skate.

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