Wild notes: Harding sidelined, Konopka waived

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2014 - 1:14 AM
hide

The game began with a fight in the opening seconds between the Edmonton Oilers Mike Brown (13) and the Minnesota Wild's Zenon Konopka (28) during first period action Friday, April 26, 2013, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Rarely does a week pass without some kind of goalie drama with the Wild, so the team was due.

Thursday morning, 10 hours before the Wild looked to stop the longest regulation losing streak in team history, Josh Harding showed up at Xcel Energy Center not feeling well. That thrust Niklas Backstrom into the net for Thursday’s pivotal game against the Buffalo Sabres and caused Darcy Kuemper to be summoned from the Iowa Wild of the AHL to back him up.

That move cost Zenon Konopka his roster spot on his 33rd birthday. Konopka, who signed a two-year deal in 2012, was placed on waivers. If the veteran center clears at 11 a.m. Friday, the Wild can assign him to Iowa.

Coach Mike Yeo painted it like the Wild had no choice but to discard Konopka because the team needed a roster spot for Kuemper.

But there were other options. The Wild could have reassigned Stephane Veilleux, kept defenseman Clayton Stoner on injured reserve another game, or put seldom-used veteran Mike Rupp on waivers (Rupp makes $200,000 more than Konopka’s $1 million salary).

This was a Konopka-specific decision. Scratched the previous two games, Konopka led the Wild with a .657 faceoff winning percentage and seven fights, but had only a goal and an assist in 73 games with the team. The Wild tried to trade Konopka last summer to no avail.

Konopka, who refrained from commenting, and Yeo had a conversation on the ice Wednesday when Konopka was again not in regular-line rushes.

Yeo said the decision was based on how he had constructed his forward lines with centers Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Kyle Brodziak.

“We want to give [the lines] a real chance to work, and we think it can work with the four centermen that we have, and that put Z on the outside,” Yeo said.

The Harding illness was just the latest in the Wild’s never-ending goalie carousel.

Kuemper has spent five different occasions on the Wild roster this season and Johan Gustafsson four because of injury or illness to Harding or Backstrom.

Backstrom has had a strained knee, a concussion and a virus. Harding has sustained two leg injuries, two illnesses and was lost for four games starting Dec. 18 to change his multiple sclerosis treatment plan.

That absence was at the start of the Wild’s recent losing streak. The medical issues with Harding and Backstrom have been an ongoing saga of GM Chuck Fletcher’s five-season tenure in Minnesota.

The Wild has had to carry three goalies on the active roster abnormally often.

Asked if he has ever seen such a goalie carousel during his three years with the Wild, Yeo said, “I don’t know that I have. It’s been a challenge, that’s for sure. Hopefully Hards is feeling better [Friday] and we’re back to business as usual with him.”

Blueline bits

Stoner returned Thursday after missing four games because of a lower-body injury. Veteran defenseman Keith Ballard, a minus-12 in 17 games since missing nine because of broken ribs, was scratched. Ballard had not been a plus player in any of those 17 games and has made many mistakes that directly led to goals recently.

Nate Prosser, often the designated scratch when the blue line is healthy, stayed in the lineup.

“Since [Ballard’s] second injury … [his game is] not where it was, and we have to find a way to get it back,” Yeo said.

Staying home

Yeo and Wild players were disappointed leading goal scorer Jason Pominville, a Canadian-born winger with dual citizenship, didn’t make the U.S. Olympic team.

“I didn’t really set any expectations,” said Pominville, who had a team-high 17 goals into Thursday’s game.

Wednesday’s announcement of the U.S. team featured children wearing each player’s jersey on the Winter Classic ice. Joked defenseman Ryan Suter, “At least [my kid] had the right number.”

The child representing Zach Parise wore No. 8; Parise is No. 11 with the Wild but will wear No. 9 in the Olympics.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 12:00 PM
Chicago
Oklahoma City 2:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 12 1st Half 6:06
Connecticut 24
Boston College 12:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Virginia 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Indiana 12:30 PM
Ohio State
Stony Brook 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Cincinnati 1:00 PM
UCF
Maine 1:00 PM
Hartford
Monmouth 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Marist
Rowan 1:00 PM
Princeton
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Rhode Island
Duke 1:00 PM
St Johns
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Siena
Drake 1:00 PM
Wichita State
Vermont 1:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Seton Hall 2:00 PM
Butler
NJIT 2:05 PM
South Alabama
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Illinois State
Louisville 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
UMBC 3:30 PM
Albany
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 24 1st Half 4:06
Georgetown 28
St Johns 31 1st Half 3:40
Villanova 36
Arkansas 13 1st Half 6:50
Florida 27
Maine 12:00 PM
UMBC
Vanderbilt 12:00 PM
Alabama
Lafayette 12:00 PM
Lehigh
UCF 1:00 PM
SMU
Utah 1:00 PM
Washington
James Madison 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Delaware 1:00 PM
Drexel
Hofstra 1:00 PM
William & Mary
Hartford 1:00 PM
Albany
Binghamton 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Towson 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Wake Forest 1:00 PM
(17) Florida State
Georgia Tech 1:00 PM
Virginia
(22) Georgia 1:00 PM
(5) Tennessee
Drake 1:00 PM
Evansville
Iona 1:00 PM
Canisius
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Northwestern 1:00 PM
Penn State
Wisconsin 1:00 PM
Michigan State
Ohio State 1:00 PM
Purdue
Northern Iowa 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Butler 1:30 PM
Xavier
Creighton 2:00 PM
Marquette
Providence 2:00 PM
DePaul
Northeastern 2:00 PM
Elon
(2) Connecticut 2:00 PM
Cincinnati
Oregon 2:00 PM
Arizona
Bradley 2:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
NC State 2:00 PM
(23) Syracuse
(7) Maryland 2:00 PM
Indiana
Illinois State 2:05 PM
Missouri State
Colorado 3:00 PM
Washington St
Tulane 3:00 PM
South Florida
(14) Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
(9) Oregon State 3:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Does a Stadium Series outdoor Wild game get you excited?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close