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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#mnwild training camp opens; teenager presents Backstrom with mask (updated twice)

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild training camp Updated: September 18, 2010 - 2:35 PM

(updated)

--Defenseman Marek Zidlicky didn't practice today with a leg injury. He's day-to-day. By the way, he's made it official: His name is pronouced Zhidlitzky this season.

-- Pierre-Marc Bouchard was meeting with a Denver doctor at 1 MT today in an attempt to gain clearance to practice in non-contact drills. GM Chuck Fletcher said an update will be provided tomorrow, although if all goes well, the update could be Bouchard in skates.

Good morning from Xcel Energy Center, where the 2010-11 Minnesota Wild training camp officially opened.

 

The day began with Peter Best, a 15-year-old from Plymouth, presenting goalie Niklas Backstrom with this season's mask. In August, Backstrom chose Best's artwork in the Backstrom Mask Design contest. Best then travelled to Stacy, Minn., where renowned maskmaker Todd Miska put his creation to work.

As Best described it to Backstrom, the Minneapolis skyline represents his "laid-back, stealthy side," and the St. Paul skyline on the other side represents his "fierce, competitive side." Best has a very touching story that Kent Youngblood will tell you about in Sunday's paper.

 

Josh Harding, who never disappoints with his masks, also unveiled his 2010-11 mask, also designed by Miska. It's to commemorate the team's 10-year anniversary, and Harding's idea was to display the mask of every goalie that's ever spent a minute on ice with the Wild.

The only masks not shown just because Miska couldn't get a good picture of them are Zac Bierk, Dieter Kochan and Derek Gustafson.

It's got all of Backstrom's masks, all of Manny Fernandez's and Dwayne Roloson's, even Anton Khudobin and Wade Dubielewicz. It also has all of Harding's masks, including the one to honor last year's fire, the one that burned to a crisp in the fire, his mask that honored goalie's of old and the mask that paid tribute to his sister, who had breast cancer.

 

 

Other notes from Day One of camp:

-- Gophers coach Don Lucia is in the house observing practice. He and his staff spent a day last week with coach Richards and his staff.

-- PR guru Aaron Sickman and I had a contest to pick the first player that would take the ice for training camp. He picked Casey Wellman. I picked Colton Gillies. Both walked down the runway together, so we tied. We know our Wild players, eh?

-- New assistant coach Darby Hendrickson took the ice for the first time. His first shot was a goal, and he put his arms up proudly. Ten minutes later, Hendrickson took a hard spill on the ice, and Brent Burns, Mikko Koivu, Nick Schultz and Andrew Brunette relentlessly heckled him with jabs. No mercy for 'ol Darbs.

-- The amount of coaches on the ice nearly rivals a football team. Seven. Richards, Hendrickson, Rick Wilson, Dave Barr, Bob Mason, P.J. DeLuca and Mike Yeo.

-- The lines from the first group today were:

Brunette-Koivu-Miettinen

Kobasew-Madden-Clutterbuck

Gillies-Peters-Wellman

Kalus-McMillan-DiSalvatore/Buck

Defensemen pairs were:

Schultz-Burns

Barker-Falk

Bagnall-Noreau

Fraser-Spurgeon

 

Afternoon practices:

Latendresse-Cullen-Havlat

Nystrom-Brodziak-Staubitz

Earl-Almond-Palmer/Daoust

Broda/Kassian-Rau-Bulmer

Defensemen:

Zanon-Zidlicky

Scandella-Prosser

Stoner-Cuma

Caron-Jobke

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