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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Wild's on verge of bringing back Cody Almond

Posted by: Michael Russo under Rookies, Wild off-season news Updated: July 7, 2014 - 8:46 AM

The Wild's on the verge of bringing back a familiar face.

Cody Almond, a fifth-round pick by the Wild in 2007, played the past two seasons in Geneva of the Swiss Hockey League.

But Almond is expected to re-sign with the Wild in the next few days, I have confirmed. The news was first reported by the Tribune deGeneve. Almond's decision to again chase his dream of becoming an NHL regular comes a few weeks after he signed a five-year contract to remain with his Swiss team.

This move comes two summers after the Wild couldn't reach a contract agreement with Almond, who was then an up-and-down minor leaguer who opted for a big contract in Switzerland.

At the time, it seemed a bit of an impatient move on Almond's part because he was just 22 and about to earn waiver rights, which would have given him a real good chance at making the following season's team.

But Almond is turning 25 later this month and by all accounts has developed into a pretty solid player. Over parts of three seasons, the Calgary native played 25 games for the Wild, scoring two goals in limited minutes on the fourth line. He's a big, left-shot center who can skate, hit, play with an edge and play wing, too. Last year, he broke out offensively with Geneva, scoring 18 goals and 34 points in 44 games with 75 penalty minutes.

For Almond to spurn a five-year deal with Geneva means he will likely be armed with a one-way contract from the Wild. That will give him an inside chance of making the team. Coach Mike Yeo knows him well from his time in Houston. Basically, he provides depth.

I added on a few Cody Almond articles from yesteryear. One is when he traveled almost 9,000 miles to play eight games in 10 nights -- four for Houston, four for Minnesota.

The other was in 2011 when Charles Barkley and Michael Strahan crashed the Wild's rookie dinner in Chicago.


Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
January 30, 2011 Sunday
METRO EDITION
MICHAEL RUSSO'S SUNDAY INSIDER;
The kids are all right;
Two sports superstars dropped in on the Wild's "rookie dinner," dispensing some advice with a little hazing mixed in.

BYLINE: MICHAEL RUSSO; STAFF WRITER, STAR TRIBUNE (Mpls.-St. Paul)

SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. 10C

LENGTH: 964 words
 

No matter what Cody Almond accomplishes in his hockey career, the Wild rookie always will consider singing for Charles Barkley and Michael Strahan "icing on the cake."

Last Sunday at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse, Barkley, the former NBA great-turned-TNT commentator, and Strahan, the former New York Giants star defensive end-turned-Fox commentator, were dining at the same restaurant where the Wild was having its rookie dinner.

Wild center John Madden used to live in the same neighborhood as Strahan when Madden played for the Devils and Strahan for the Giants, so next thing you know, "Sir Charles" and the NFL's single-season sacks record-holder entered the room to, as defenseman Nick Schultz said, "hold court for two hours."

Barkley and Strahan told stories, especially about past rookie dinners during their careers. Rookie dinners are a pro sports tradition where the rookies buy the team dinner.

"Suddenly, Charles started getting all these crazy ideas in his head. I was just like, 'Oh man, here we go,'" rookie defenseman Jared Spurgeon said.

Yup, the rookie hazing of Spurgeon, Cody Almond and Clayton Stoner began.

"We gave a speech, told a joke, did three skits and sang a song," Almond said, laughing. "All the boys were howling pretty good and [Barkley and Strahan] were loving it, too," Almond said.

Spurgeon, who made his NHL debut on his 21st birthday Nov. 29, sang Travis McCoy's "Billionaire," where Spurgeon wants to be "on the cover of Forbes magazine, smiling next to Oprah and the Queen."

Guess the teammates' reaction on that one. "It was the first song that popped in my head, and the lyrics are pretty easy," Spurgeon said.

Almond, 21, did a scene from "Step Brothers" where Will Ferrell sings Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About" -- the scene where John C. Reilly tells him, "You've got to know, that's a voice of an angel ... a combination of Fergie and Jesus."

"I got a positive reaction from it," Almond said.

Stoner, Spurgeon said, couldn't think of a song so "he just told some joke."

For Spurgeon, the thrill of meeting Barkley and Strahan just adds one more unforeseen experience during a dream few months.

"At the start of the year, I was never expecting to be at my first NHL rookie party," he said. "It was just great to hang out with the guys, laugh, tell jokes, eat some good food and meet Charles Barkley and Michael Strahan."

Spurgeon shelled out $5,000 for his share of the check. "It was the most expensive meal I've ever paid for and probably ever will," Spurgeon said, laughing. "I'll be eating microwaveable dinners for the next little while to save up some money."

Almond "got off the hook" and didn't have to contribute to the dinner bill because he didn't play during his four-game call-up. He said Barkley and Strahan jabbed each other over Barkley's Taco Bell commercials and Strahan's Subway commercials.

"They're two of the funniest guys I've ever met in my life. Strahan kept calling Bruno [Andrew Brunette] the 'White Oprah,'" Almond said, in hysterics.

The two former athletes also gave Wild players sound advice, telling them to cherish team dinners like that one.

Barkley told the players that they have "hit the lottery" and "have the best jobs in the world and to appreciate what you've got every day, always have fun coming to the rink in the morning and really take advantage of it because your careers are short and when it's over, you're going to miss it every day," Almond said.

Barkley spent much of his career reminding everyone that, "I am not a role model."

But he made quite an impression on Almond. "This is a great year for my development," said Almond, drafted in the fifth round in 2007. "I'm on the same page with all of management and the coaching staff. I'm going to keep developing and learning in the AHL. But next year is my year. Hopefully, next year I'll be there in Minnesota the whole season."

------------------------------


Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
November 15, 2010 Monday
METRO EDITION
Prospect's callup turns into a travel whirlwind 2.36.2 news hed rej hed righerej righerej

BYLINE: MICHAEL RUSSO; STAFF WRITER, STAR TRIBUNE (Mpls.-St. Paul)

SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. 12C

LENGTH: 447 words
 

TAMPA, FLA. - Cody Almond slept in Sunday, waking up in Peoria, Ill., after 12 o'clock -- understandable considering the odyssey he's taken across North America the past 10 days.

On Monday -- providing he's not retrieved by the Wild again -- the Wild prospect will complete an exhausting schedule, flying from Chicago to Houston after playing Sunday in his fourth game in four nights, sixth in seven and eighth in 10.

That's even abnormal for an up-and-down minor-leaguer. The eight games consisted of four games with the Wild, four with the Houston Aeros.

"I'm ready to come up at any time, but it'll sure be nice to go home, get some clean clothes and sleep in my own bed for a change," Almond, 21, said.

Almond has been recalled and reassigned twice since Nov. 4, a whirlwind that's taken him from Houston to Minneapolis to Columbus to Vancouver (Abbotsford) to Minneapolis to Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale to Tampa to Chicago (Peoria) to, Monday morning, Houston.

That's 8,769 air miles.

"I'll tell you what, with the mileage, that might be a record," Aeros GM Jim Mill said. "It's excellent for career."

This season, Almond has played four games with the Wild totaling 24 minutes, 9 seconds, almost what the two-way center played Saturday alone in Peoria. The Wild decided it was best to return Almond to the Aeros after he played only 6 1/2 minutes at left wing Friday at Florida.

"There's positives and negatives to both," Almond said. "A lot of ice time [with Houston] will help me develop, but it also helps being called up just watching the guys and practicing up there and learning from the coaching staff."

Almond's 10 days traveling the continent was with very few clothes. When he found out he was being recalled, he was dropping off his girlfriend at the Houston airport. He didn't have time to return home and pack, so roommate Carson McMillan "threw a bunch of stuff in a bag for me" and rushed it to the airport.

"He's not the smartest packer," Almond said. "He didn't pack me [normal shoes]. All I have is flip-flops and dress shoes, and no coat. It's been a struggle, but I've made it work."

Almond has been wearing the same two suits, "and they've been under in the belly of the plane quite a few times, so I'm not looking too hot."

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