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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Latendresse injured, Kobasew questionable; Backstrom vs. Backstrom

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: October 27, 2010 - 2:41 PM

Good afternoon. Wild had a pretty solid practice today out in Mendota Heights despite coming off a bad night.

Yeah, yeah, I know they didn't play last night, but talk about bad luck. Division rivals Colorado and Vancouver, and Calgary and Edmonton played 3-point games against each other, Edmonton getting a point after Calgary blew a 4-1 lead, and Colorado getting a point after Matt Duchene scored the tying goal inside the final 90 seconds.

Still, Wild's only two points out of eighth.

Lots of great games yesterday, by the way. Both Northwest Division games were highly entertaining, Florida got the shaft in Toronto when Colton Orr barreled over Scott Clemmensen for the go-ahead goal and Jean-Sebastien Giguere got away with an egregious trip just prior to Phil Kessel's breakaway backbreaker.

Also, Ducks fighter George Parros scored a breakaway goal. For all you Aaron Voros fans out there, you may remember how physical he'd get with Wild players in goal celebrations. Last night, Voros, who was on the shift with Parros, basically punched Parros excitedly three times in the chest during the celebration.

It was typical Voros.

On to the Wild news, coach Todd Richards said left wing Guillaume Latendresse had an MRI yesterday and there is "something wrong as far as his groin," so he won't play Thursday vs. the Caps, who play tonight in Raleigh.

Richards said he doesn't know how long Latendresse will be out, but he doesn't think it's major at all. I asked about a sports hernia or something like that, and he said, "No, no, nothing like that." He said there is "something there" and Latendresse just needs some rest and recovery and therapy, and Richards even put Latendresse's status as questionable for Saturday vs. Chicago. I asked him more about it after the scrum, and he definitely said he doesn't expect Latendresse to miss two weeks or something.

Chuck Kobasew didn't practice today because of his groin injury, but he's listed day-to-day and Richards said he may be available for the Caps' game. Richards said if he plays, he'd like to put him on the second line with Matt Cullen and Martin Havlat.

By the way, every other line was intact today, including the Mikko Koivu line, other than Pierre-Marc Bouchard skating with Cullen and Havlat simply to have a semblance of a line in practice. Bouchard's not playing tomorrow, so don't get your hopes up.

Colton Gillies did practice on the left side of Kyle Brodziak and Brad Staubitz. Richards said Gillies will play. It'd be his first game since the 2008-09 season.

Richards said the Wild may need to call up a forward if Kobasew's status remains uncertain this afternoon.

Cam Barker did practice today after missing the last two games with a groin. So if he's OK, he'll be reinserted into the lineup, although Clayton Stoner, I thought, was pretty good last game. In fact, Richards commended Stoner's battle wins yesterday.

Niklas Backstrom will start in goal vs. the Caps, which means Nik Backstrom the Finn vs. Nick Backstrom the Swede.

Lastly, I was doing some research for an article I'm working on, and I found an article that appeared Oct. 15, 2008, with Thrashers then-GM Don Waddell talking about how imperative it was that he traded Marian Hossa the year before for assets. I was using it to draw a comparison to what the Wild was dealing with with Marian Gaborik.

I just realized in the irony of all ironies, this article ran the very same day that Gaborik was given a day off and he originally strained his groin playing soccer hackysack in South Florida. That injury signaled the beginning of the end to Gaborik's Wild tenure. Remember, all summer long that year, I wrote how if Gaborik was not going to sign an extension on the dotted line immediately, the Wild had to trade him then and not risk letting such an injury prone player play in the final year of his contract.

The Wild didn't trade him,Gaborik winds up turning down a 10-year, $78.5 million contract, misses 65 games and leaves via free agency without the Wild getting anything back for him. That's crippling to an organization, and the Wild's feeling those effects now. While reading these Waddell quotes, remember this past season when in a repeat performance, the Thrashers were forced to trade Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey to again get assets and not lose a player of Kovalchuk's ilk for nothing.

Here's the story, with a Voros quote on the bottom, incidentally:

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

October 15, 2008 Wednesday
Metro Edition

Thrashers GM knows the feeling;
Don Waddell had to trade Thrashers star Marian Hossa. So he knows what effect the Marion Gaborik negotiations could have on Minnesota.

BYLINE: MICHAEL RUSSO, STAFF WRITER

SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. 2C

LENGTH: 570 words


ATLANTA - With the Marian Gaborik situation looking more and more like "Marian Hossa, the Sequel," Atlanta Thrashers General Manager Don Waddell talked Tuesday night about what he had to deal with throughout last season before being forced to trade the former 100-point scorer because of a contract dispute.
"I've got to tell you, it was a long year," Waddell said. "We did everything we could. You know it's hard to trade a star."
But after being unable to sign Hossa to a contract extension -- a season-long distraction that was blamed for derailing Atlanta's season ---- Waddell traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins along with Pascal Dupuis for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a first-round pick at the trade deadline.
Similarly, the Wild is trying to extend Gaborik's contract. If it's unable to -- and negotiations have stalled -- the Wild probably will have to trade him.
It's believed GM Doug Risebrough already has begun the shopping.
"It's hard for me to speak for the Wild, but I can just tell you from our experience, you're dealing with one of your best players, the goal is to keep him, to show your team, to show your fans that you're trying to do everything you can, and sometimes it's not in your control," Waddell said.
"I don't want to speak for (Risebrough). But in our case, we felt (Hossa) was too big of an asset. We could turn him into many assets, and (we couldn't afford) to let that opportunity pass. If we couldn't sign him until the trade deadline, what made us think we could sign him after the trade deadline?"
Waddell said he never wanted it to last until the Feb. 26 deadline, but it's a dilemma Risebrough also might face.
"This league doesn't deal with things on an urgent matter until it gets to be a deadline time," Waddell said. "If I would have taken the deal I got offered the week before, it would have been a lot less than the trade deadline. It gets to be a bidding war. As much as I wanted to deal with it a few days before, our deal got done at five to three."
Waddell said he would have even made the trade if the Thrashers were a playoff contender.
"When we knew what the value of the player was, we needed to trade him to continue our franchise moving forward," Waddell said.
Waddell said it was especially a distraction when the Thrashers went into big media markets such as Toronto and Montreal. Similarly, the Wild plays in the Northwest and will have to often deal with the Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton media.
"What you have to do is set your time knowing that you have to deal with it," Waddell said. "You can't not deal with it. If you don't deal with it, it just makes it harder for you. So you go into cities, pick a time, deal with the media, boom. We're done with it."
While playing last season in Minnesota, New York Rangers left wing Aaron Voros became tight with Gaborik. They speak to or text each other often.
Reached in Manhattan on Tuesday, Voros was asked what he thinks will happen with Gaborik.
"I don't want to say what I really think because I don't want to ruffle any feathers, but he's going to do what's best for his career," Voros said. "One thing I've noticed, players get a bad rap all the time when they do what's best for themselves, but every day of the year, teams do what's best for them, whether it's buying somebody out or getting rid of a bad contract, and they never seem to catch any flak. Gaby will do what's best for him" 

 

 

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