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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Opening Night at the X; Alumni among festivities; Brent Burns donates tix to troops

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: October 14, 2010 - 12:34 PM

"Opening Night, Opening Night." Every time I hear those words, I think of Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm on stage in the Producers.

Finally, the X opens for business (with a hockey game, not Lady Gaga) again when the Wild takes on the Edmonton Oilers. The Wild's 8-0-1 in nine home openers, including eight in a row. The Wild's beaten the Oilers in 13 straight at home, one off the active longest home win streak in the NHL (Nashville at home vs. Columbus).

Not a shocker at all for the 82-game-a-season man, but Andrew Brunette pronounced himself good to go despite his hip pointer. Marek Zidlicky will make his season debut for the Wild, so Clayton Stoner will be the lone healthy scratch.

In other news, cool, classy story, but the Chicago Blackhawks' Al MacIsaac hand-delivered Stanley Cup rings to John Madden and Edmonton's Colin Fraser and assistant coach Steve Smith, who was a pro scout last year for Chicago. Madden loved the two rings -- yes, two, which included one for his wife. It was Madden's third Stanley Cup ring, and I'll write a lot more about that in tomorrow's paper. 

Just came out of Edmonton's room, and it's always fun shooting the breeze with Kurtis Foster. His partner, Ryan Whitney, also a very nice guy. By the way, as an update to my Foster story the other day, Mikko Koivu "made" Foster pick up the check from dinner last night with Nick Schultz and agent John Vollan because Foster has a fresh, new two-year deal worth $1.8 million a year and Mikko's in the last year of his deal.

Technically, Mikko's extension doesn't start until next year. So, Foster had some funny lines about what he plans to do next season for his dinners with Mikko.

The Wild will hold a red-carpet entrance for the players this afternoon and pre-game party. From 4:15-5:15, players will enter on a red carpet at RiverCentre.

In a tux, Wild radio personality Kevin Falness will be greeting players and asking players hard-hitting questions like, "So, who are you wearing?" Falness will then be signing his new book, "How I torment Russo with my raspy voice and evil smile."

It's a must-read, right up there with Kerry Fraser's new book, "The Final Call." Speaking of the gelled-up former ref with the best hair in the biz, I got an email from him last week and he'll be in town this weekend. I'll put on the blog in the next few days his exact schedule as far as signing books. I've heard it's sensational and I have an advance copy coming in the mail any day. It is being released Oct. 23 at Wayne Gretzky's restaurant in Toronto.

After the red carpet, the Wild will hold a pre-game party complete with music, food and beverage, interactive games and more from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Prizes, including Wild game tickets and a trip to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas (this is mine), will be awarded to fans who register at the pre-game party.

Pre-game ceremonies will then celebrate the Wild’s first nine seasons as the puck waits to drop on Year Ten. A video tribute to the inaugural team will be shown, followed by on-ice introductions of inaugural team members (Wes Walz, Antti Laaksonen, Cam Stewart and Jeff Neilsen). Then fans will be treated to a look back at the Top 10 Moments in Wild history.

Speaking of Year 10, hopefully you checked out Kent Youngblood's great story today on a look back at the first decade. Lots of neat stories in there that haven't been told before.

I also offered up 10 lists and an all-decade team on this link.

And of course, here's the notebook in Thursday's paper.

Lastly, here's a really cool press release from Defending the Blue Line:

Defending The Blue Line announced today that they have once again partnered with Minnesota Wild Defenseman Brent Burns to offer free tickets for military service members to ALL Minnesota Wild home games.

Brent & Susan Burns are strong supporters of the military, and, as they did last year, have once again donated tickets to every home game as a “thank you” to the men and women who defend our freedom every day.  To apply for tickets, visit www.DefendingTheBlueLine.com and complete a registration form. Preference will go to currently deployed, combat wounded, and families of KIA service members.
 
“We are very excited to partner with Brent & Susan again this year.  Military families sacrifice so much, attending a Wild game courtesy of the Burns’ is a great way for our families to relax and take their minds off the stresses of deployment,” said Shane Hudella, President, Defending The Blue Line.  “Our service members’ children and families are so excited to have this great opportunity, and we are very grateful.”
 
Defending The Blue Line is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by a group of active duty National Guard soldiers in Minnesota.  The charity assists families of all branches of the military with costs associated with hockey.  They provide financial assistance for registration fees, free equipment, summer hockey camps, and will once again be sending many deserving families down to Xcel for a night of fun.
 
“With my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather both having been in the military, I have a great appreciation and respect for the sacrifices our service members make to defend our freedom everyday.  I think Defending The Blue Line is doing a great job of taking care of military families by helping out with equipment and other costs related to hockey. Susan and I wanted to do our part by helping out as well.” said Brent Burns, Minnesota Wild defenseman and strong supporter of Defending The Blue Line.  “I'm proud to be associated with these programs, and look forward to working with them on future projects.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT