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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Gillies/Clutterbuck hits don't compare; Wellman on way to Big Apple

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 3, 2011 - 11:32 AM

 

 

Courtesy: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Hello from unfairly cold Nueva York, where I'm about to head to the NHL's NY headquarters -- specifically the NHL Store and Studios to do NHL Live at 1:20 ET; 12:20 CT on XM204 and the NHL Network.

Now, Trevor Gillies, he'll be heading to the NHL's Toronto headquarters tomorrow morning for the above indiscretion roughly 1:51 seconds worth of ice time into his first game back from a 9-game suspension. In-person meetings typically mean 5 or more games.

Quick forgetter, that Trevor Gillies. Bet the Toronto-bound gate agent says, "You again?" when he checks in for his flight.

Cal Clutterbuck was a bit "off" last night, and because guys like David Perron and Sidney Crosby and Antti Miettinen have proven that concussion symptoms ofter arise well after a blow to the head, the Wild needed to make a decision last night to bring in another player in case Clutterbuck was hurt because it's carrying no extra bodies.

So Casey Wellman will arrive in New York this afternoon. Now Clutterbuck did skate this morning during an extremely optional skate, so he may be fine.

We'll find out pregame when we meet with coach Todd Richards and some players, including Clutterbuck hopefully.

Personally, even if he is fine and can play tonight vs. the Blueshirts, I'd throw Wellman into the lineup. The Wild's stumbling, and after playing last night, surely the Wild could use a little fresh energy and new blood and speed into its lineup.

As for Gillies, I'm tired of the justifications out there of Gillies going after Clutterbuck.

Dangerous hit by Clutterbuck, yes. But it's not like Clutterbuck head-hunted.

To me, the replay is clear. The Islanders' Justin DiBenedetto was skating with the puck and just before he was going to get hit, he lost the puck. He turned his back to Clutterbuck, faced the glass, looked down and began fishing for the puck.

So some of that is on him., Clutterbuck was just going in to check a guy with the puck. Then suddenly, the player's back to him.

But, the Isles player was still vulnerable. It's on Clutterbuck not to finish his check there. It was boarding, and the refs called it.

But Gillies, in retaliation, left his feet and delivered a clear forearm to Clutterbuck's head one period into his first game back after missing 9 games for head-hunting Eric Tangradi, then mocking his fallen victim well after the obvious injury.

Apples and oranges, these two indiscretions.

One's a 2-minute boarding penalty. One's the type of blow to the head the league's trying to eliminate.

Clutterbuck, for a guy that delivers five hits a game and leads the league in hits for a third straight season, he has remarkably played it clean and played it honest in his short career. Once in awhile, when you're as physical as Clutterbuck, you're going to deliver a bad one. He delivered an illegal one, and got called. 

Clutterbuck plays a regular shift. Several times recently, many of his hits have led directly to goals (see PMB spinorama breakaway). Gillies plays 2 minutes a game. Two extremely different players.

One can play hockey. One can absolutely not.

Onward, huge game tonight. The Wild's now in 11th after Bobby Ryan's penalty-shot OT winner last night. Eight days it's taken Minnesota to fall from fifth to 11th. Maybe Cam Barker is that important? Lost 3 of 4 without him.

This is a conference where you cannot go on a losing streak. It's critical now. Turn it around now or the Wild will find itself out of it by the middle of next week.

OK, I've got to get going. I'll be back on later with an update after we meet with Richards.

To lighten the mood of what I'm sure is a stressful fan base, check this cool video out. The kid's a better interviewer than most NHL beat writers, especially moi.

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