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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Martin Brodeur: Devils let Zach Parise walk; Jason Zucker done for year with quad injury

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 20, 2014 - 12:40 PM

Wild looks to close its three-game road trip with a second consecutive victory tonight when it visits the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

Good chance Zach Parise draws into the Wild’s starting lineup of his first return to New Jersey since departing as a free agent two summers ago.

Ilya Bryzgalov vs. Cory Schneider in goal. For the Wild, Erik Haula is scratched a second consecutive game (more on that below) and defenseman Keith Ballard is sidelined with a groin injury. He apparently hurt it the other day and tried to give it a shot this morning. He had to leave the pregame skate early.

--Left wing Jason Zucker is indeed out the rest of the season. General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Zucker will need additional surgery to repair a tendon in his right quadriceps.

“It’s a setback, but he should be fine for next season,” Fletcher said. “It’s frustrating it came to all this. I feel badly for the kid.”

Zucker was initially injured Jan. 9 late in the third period at Phoenix. He blocked a scorching Shane Doan blast just above the right knee. The decision was made to hold off surgery until the Olympic break.

“Honestly, it’s a fluky injury, one I’ve never heard of,” Fletcher said. “When they initially went in, it was worse than they thought. They fixed it, but he reaggravated it while training.”

--Parise will play his first game tonight at the Rock. Fans will boo. Future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur says fans have that right.

And while maybe Devils fans have every right in the world to be upset Parise left New Jersey for home in Minnesota, Brodeur said it was the Devils who made the mistake by not trying to sign Parise earlier.

“We had plenty of chances,” Brodeur said. “We had two years to talk to him and figure out something and we waited and waited and it was too late.”

I asked him to follow up on that and he said, “When you know you have an athlete that is going to be a gamebreaker and he’s going to be one of the top [available] players and the rules are free agency comes a lot younger than it used to, you have to make commitments. You see around the league some of the young guys, the (Steven) Stamkos’ and etc., they don’t wait. They get them done. And we let him walk to free agency. That’s a decision of the organization, regardless of it was financial at the time with the ownership that we had, but he was our property for a long time and we lost him.”  

GM Lou Lamoriello has had a long policy of waiting to sign his pending free agents. In fact, Brodeur’s one of the few who has been signed in the middle of the season. Everybody from Scott Niedermayer to Scott Gomez to Brian Gionta to Alex Mogilny to even Doug Gilmour left.

The moment New Jersey signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100-million contract in August 2010, it seemed the homegrown Parise was destined to be elsewhere.

“That’s too hard to say,” Parise said when asked if it would have changed things if Lamoriello tried harder to extend him earlier. “I know Lou has his policies and his way of doing things. It’s not as if Lou waited ‘til June 29 or 30 to pick up the phone. We had talked for a long time before that. … I don’t think it’s fair to say that Lou waited ‘til the last minute because that wasn’t the case.”

By the way, Parise said Tuesday that Lamoriello doesn’t hold a grudge and they still have a good relationship, that Lamoriello understands this is the way it works in the NHL.

As far as Devils fans apparently being upset that Parise kept saying he wanted to stay, Parise said, “I wasn’t lying. I have no reason to lie about that stuff. I was always being completely honest. It basically came down to Minnesota or here.”

Brodeur said, “I had good conversations with him. He really was debating going to Minnesota or staying with us. I talked to him a lot that day about it and he was torn a little bit about making that decision. But a lot of people have influence on players – agents and families and stuff like that, and if he went anywhere – I don’t have to name the team – it would have been a lot [more] heartbroken for the fans than going to Minnesota, that’s for sure.”  

I assume he was talking about the Rangers, although the Rangers were never in the mix. Philly and Pittsburgh went hard after Parise, as well as Chicago. Detroit was the big team after Ryan Suter.

“We’re hockey players,” Brodeur said. “We have different views than fans as far as what’s expected from people in the locker room and stuff like that. “So, the fans for sure are not pretty pleased with his decision to leave us, especially being the captain. The only drawback is he went home to Minnesota, so I think you have fans that will be a little understanding. But those fans are pretty rare. It affected our organization in a big way losing him, and that’s what the fans care about. Us, it’s part of the business.”

-- Talked to Justin Fontaine, who had a goal and assist against the Islanders in his second game being scratched for five straight. He was on a line with Matt Moulson and Mikko Koivu.

“No one likes sitting out. It’s definitely frustrating,” he said. “I just came to the rink with the right attitude. That’s why I said about staying sharp and staying positive around the rink, being a good teammate. You never know the role you’re going to get thrown in and you’ve got to take advantage when you get that opportunity.”

Coach Mike Yeo had the same conversation with Haula. As I wrote the other day, Yeo isn’t unhappy with Haula. He feels he wants to get everybody in roles, and while fans and media say he simply should elevate Haula to a third-line status, he doesn’t yet feel that Haula is ready to play 18 minutes a night against top players.

Yeo said Fontaine is a “good example for a guy like Haulsy. We’ve got a lot of guys. We added a couple guys to a team that we already felt was strong, so that means every night there’s two, three guys out of the lineup. So when you’re not in there, it’s how you use that time to make sure you’re ready when you do get in. It speaks volumes [about Fontaine] the attitude he had while he was out and how he worked to make sure he was ready for that opportunity. I talked to [Haula]. He’s been playing well, and he’s going to get back in [eventually] and we have to make sure when he gets back in he’s at that same level.”

-- Teammates have been calling defensive defenseman, No. 4 Clayton Stoner “Bobby Orr” since his highlight-reel breakaway goal Tuesday against the Islanders.

“Today anyways. I'm sure it'll change tomorrow,” Stoner joked.

Yeo said, “His play has been very strong lately. He’s been making the right decisions with the puck. He’s been moving the puck quickly and efficiently. …. His defending has been very strong, from his gaps through the neutral zone, his one-on-one play to his D-zone coverage, I’ve been very impressed with how he’s been playing the game.”

Stoner said he’s OK from his crash into the corner wall after scoring. He said he tripped over goalie Anders Nilsson’s stick.

Stoner scored his first NHL goal in this Devils’ arena in 2011. It was a dump-in that Johan Hedberg came out to play. But the puck hit a stanchion on the glass and ricocheted into the open net.

Stoner said he tested it this morning. Stanchions have changed, he disappointedly said.

-- On Bryzgalov starting, Yeo said the Wild used the “guideline” of coming back with a goalie coming off a shutout. Bryzgalov made 36 saves for his 32nd career shutout and first with the Wild on Tuesday on the Island.

Yeo said Bryzgalov was a calming influence in the net that night and “looked big. I want to see if he can get back at it.”

He also has a 2.07 GAA lifetime against New Jersey.

-- Same forward lines at 5-on-5 to start tonight. PP units are Parise-Koivu-Moulson-Suter-Pominville; Heatley-Granlund-Nino-Brodin-Spurgeon.

Yeo said he wants to spot Charlie Coyle in more on the penalty kill and the Nino spot on the power play may rotate between Nino and Coyle depending on “who’s playing better.”

-- Greg Carey, the senior at St. Lawrence University, signed with the Phoenix Coyotes yesterday. The Wild is waiting to hear today a decision from his younger brother, Matt Carey, 22. The freshman is said to play more of a pro style but is raw. He’s tied for 38th in the country with 37 points (18 goals).

Also, as I wrote a few days ago, the Wild, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins are among many teams after Swedish defenseman Christian Folin, who plays at Massachusetts-Lowell. Many scouts say Folin has the ability to step right into an NHL lineup. He can’t be signed until they’re done playing, and that could be a bit.

Talk tonight.

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Minnesota 14 2nd Qtr 4:48
Miami 7
Baltimore 0 2nd Qtr 7:35
Houston 6
Detroit 7 2nd Qtr 4:14
Chicago 0
Cleveland 3 2nd Qtr 5:31
Carolina 3
Atlanta 6 2nd Qtr 7:34
New Orleans 7
Green Bay 7 2nd Qtr 8:22
Tampa Bay 0
Kansas City 6 2nd Qtr 4:18
Pittsburgh 10
New England 7 2nd Qtr 5:04
NY Jets 7
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 29 2nd Half
Army 29
Ferris State 37 2nd Half
Bowling Green 36
San Francisco 30 2nd Half
Cleveland State 26
Oregon State 31 2nd Half 15:50
Quinnipiac 37
Coastal Carolina 15 1st Half 3:39
Central Arkansas 25
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
Canisius
Southern Miss 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Creighton 1:00 PM
North Texas
Maryland 1:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cornell 1:00 PM
Radford
Vermont 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Loyola-Maryland 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Reinhardt 1:00 PM
Winthrop
Ark-Little Rock 0 1st Half 18:05
Green Bay 4
TX-Pan American 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Alabama State 1:05 PM
Evansville
FIU 1:30 PM
Hartford
Goshen 1:35 PM
Valparaiso
Bryant 2:00 PM
Denver
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Lipscomb
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
Montana
ULM 2:00 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
St Marys-CA 52 2nd Half 1:00
George Washington 70
SMU 43 2nd Half 0:52
Auburn 53
Hofstra 71 2nd Half 0:42
Boston College 61
Liberty 20 2nd Half
(1) South Carolina 44
Fairleigh Dickinson 40 2nd Half 15:47
Brown 40
Buffalo 32 2nd Half 19:19
Long Island 31
Bucknell 36 2nd Half 17:27
Mount St Marys 28
Stony Brook 35 2nd Half
Wagner 31
FIU 39 2nd Half 19:11
Wofford 29
Duquesne 21 2nd Half
Providence 25
Maine 28 2nd Half
William & Mary 23
Alabama State 20 2nd Half
Samford 31
TX-Pan American 24 2nd Half
VA Commonwealth 29
South Dakota St 44 2nd Half 17:51
Marist 41
Saint Josephs 27 2nd Half 15:57
(5) Notre Dame 45
Radford 27 2nd Half
Virginia Tech 28
(3) Texas 21 1st Half 7:31
(4) Texas A&M 24
Rhode Island 19 1st Half 6:00
Bryant 12
South Florida 1:00 PM
Penn State
Evansville 1:00 PM
IUPUI
Mercer 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
NC A&T 1:00 PM
Chattanooga
Princeton 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Eastern Illinois 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Rider 1:00 PM
Binghamton
SC State 1:00 PM
Clemson
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Richmond 1:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Kent State 1:00 PM
Colgate
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Navy
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Davidson 1:00 PM
Charlotte
Sam Houston St 2 1st Half 18:26
TCU 0
(14) Maryland 6 1st Half 18:29
Coppin State 0
South Alabama 5 1st Half 17:23
UAB 2
Youngstown St 4 1st Half 16:47
Pittsburgh 8
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Florida
Wright State 1:30 PM
Purdue
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
USC
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Tulsa
Dayton 2:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Marquette
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Alabama
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Milwaukee
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Bradley
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Drake
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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