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

Houston 12:05 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:05 PM
Atlanta
Miami 12:05 PM
Boston
Minnesota 12:05 PM
Tampa Bay
NY Yankees 12:05 PM
Philadelphia
Baltimore 12:07 PM
Toronto
Detroit 12:10 PM
NY Mets
Cincinnati 2:05 PM
Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles 2:05 PM
Milwaukee
San Francisco 2:05 PM
Texas
Chicago WSox 2:05 PM
San Diego
Kansas City 2:05 PM
Cleveland
Seattle 2:05 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 2:10 PM
LA Angels
Oakland 2:10 PM
Arizona
Pittsburgh 6:05 PM
NY Yankees
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Orlando
Utah 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Miami 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
Houston
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Memphis
Phoenix 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 6:30 PM
Detroit
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Chicago
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 11:00 AM
Char Southern
Ark-Pine Bluff 11:00 AM
Miss Valley St
Southern Ill 12:05 PM
Wichita State
Winthrop 1:00 PM
Radford
Evansville 2:35 PM
Illinois State
Towson 5:00 PM
Elon
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
High Point
Samford 5:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Ball State
Bowling Green 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Brown 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
Toledo 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Akron 6:00 PM
Kent State
Ill-Chicago 6:00 PM
Oakland
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Ohio
Columbia 6:00 PM
Penn
Cornell 6:00 PM
Princeton
Central Mich 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bradley 6:05 PM
Northern Iowa
Morehead State 6:30 PM
Murray State
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 7:30 PM
Citadel
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Drexel
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Baylor
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Saint Louis 10:00 AM
(21) George Washington
Wake Forest 10:00 AM
(16) Duke
Furman 10:00 AM
(17) Chattanooga
Monmouth 11:00 AM
Quinnipiac
Michigan State 11:30 AM
(4) Maryland
Belmont 12:00 PM
UT Martin
Arkansas 12:00 PM
(3) South Carolina
Mercer 12:30 PM
East Tenn St
Richmond 1:00 PM
Fordham
Miami-Florida 1:00 PM
(2) Notre Dame
Siena 1:30 PM
Iona
Washington St 1:30 PM
(9) Arizona State
Ark-Pine Bluff 1:30 PM
Miss Valley St
(23) Rutgers 1:55 PM
(24) Northwestern
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Loyola Marymount 2:00 PM
Gonzaga
(18) Texas A&M 2:25 PM
LSU
Cincinnati 3:00 PM
UCF
Saint Josephs 3:30 PM
Dayton
UCLA 4:00 PM
(19) Stanford
Santa Clara 4:30 PM
San Diego
Virginia Tech 5:00 PM
(7) Florida State
SMU 5:00 PM
Memphis
Lehigh 5:05 PM
Holy Cross
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Duquesne
North Florida 6:00 PM
(20) Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Stetson
Nebraska 6:00 PM
(14) Iowa
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Marist
Navy 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Lafayette 6:00 PM
American Univ
Colgate 6:00 PM
Army
Georgia 6:00 PM
(5) Tennessee
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
Brown
Penn 6:00 PM
Columbia
(13) Princeton 6:00 PM
Cornell
Kansas 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Harvard 6:00 PM
Yale
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
San Jose St 7:00 PM
UNLV
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
Nevada
Niagara 8:30 PM
Fairfield
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM
California
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: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close