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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Havlat, Richards react to today's article; Wild injury updates

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild pregame skate Updated: October 28, 2010 - 12:57 PM

Good afternoon from the press box at the X. Sorry for the blog delay, but I was working the Washington room. Had a great conversation with a couple players, including Eric Fehr, who gave me a little more insight into whom Justin Falk, one of his good friends from Winnipeg, is. 

Also talked to some Washington players on a story I'm working on in a few weeks that should be fairly entertaining. GQ star Alex Ovechkin, or "OVI8" as his blue sticks say,  as usual was bubbly and full of personality.

He said he wasn't disappointed Jose Theodore wasn't starting tonight because Theodore knows Washington's "weapons." No offense to Jose, but "Advantage Washington."

We've seen the Wild shut Washington's stars down before, but any time a team ushers out Ovechkin and Semin and Backstrom and Green and Fleischmann and Laich and Carlson, I'll pick the shooter over the goalie any day.

Apparently major stat problems last night in Carolina. Washington's PR guy handed coach Bruce Boudreau a final gamesheet this morning and Boudreau handed it back and said, "I'll go on record and say Ovi played more than eight minutes."

Also, Matt Bradley apparently played 37 minutes last night!!!

Funny line, but Caps forward Jason Chimera reminded me today his belief that Wes Walz's OT goal vs. Columbus a few years back was "No goal." Remember, that was the game where the puck rolled out of Walz's pants after Chimera put Walz into the goal.

First injury updates:

Guillaume Latendresse is out with a groin. Chuck Kobasew skated and appears as if he'll play. Antti Miettinen is sick and is a gametime decision. If he can't play, callup Casey Wellman will play. Colton Gillies is definitely in for Latendresse. Cam Barker will be given a third game off because of his groin, meaning Clayton Stoner plays.

If Miettinen doesn't play, I've got no idea of the lines. If he does play, it looks like no lines will change, except for Kobasew moving up to play with Matt Cullen and Martin Havlat and Gillies playing with Kyle Brodziak and Brad Staubitz.

As for the brewing Havlat-Todd Richards duel, that again was the point of today's article. Say what you want about the tactics of Havlat's agent, but in the overall grand scheme of things, what today's article demonstrates clear as day is an overriding tension between coach and his highest-paid skater.

I asked about Havlat twice in the press scrum with Richards:

1) "First off, we’re playing the Washington Capitals. I can’t believe this is the first thing we’re talking about. I’ve got no comment on what’s going on. He can handle it the way he wants. Preparing for Washington. And that’s the last I’m going to say about it."

2) I later asked that regardless of the quotes, how important is it to resolve this issue with Havlat because obviously a positive, performing Marty Havlat is needed: "He’s a big part of our team. Need him to contribute and play just like the other 18 guys. Whatever role it is, and some guys play bigger roles than others, and Marty’s … in a big-role position. And we need him to contribute. If we’re going to win tonight, it’s going to be a contribution from his line and Mikko’s line and everyone else probably playing well."
 
Havlat quotes:
 
"I know what my agent said, and I’m not going to comment on it at all. I’m not going to comment on what was in the newspaper."
 
"I talk to my agent like every other player. Like I said, I know what he said. I’m not going to comment on it at all."
 
On eyes being on him now: "I’m just getting ready for tonight’s game just like any other day and I just want to play my best."
 
Are you happy? "I’m happy."
 
Confirming meeting with Richards I wrote about in today's paper, Havlat said, "I had a conversation with Todd two days ago.
 
Asked to describe meeting: "It was a good conversation."
 
This was the talk of the locker room this morning. Not many players wanted to talk on the record about it, but a good 10 players came up to me to ask me about it. Nick Schultz talked publicly and said Havlat keeps this stuff to himself, there won't be a division in the locker room or a distraction.
 
We'll see, obviously.
 
Lot of work to do. Talk to you tonight.

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