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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Where's Johnsson?; Kid Bowman on why Hossa over Havlat; Big Buff t-shirts on sale; Hockey Day in Minnesota

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings draft, Stanley Cup, Wild off-season news Updated: May 27, 2010 - 6:16 PM

 

No, this is not a wanted poster in the local post office. This is the actual Kim Johnsson page from the Blackhawks Stanley Cup media guide.

Call it a collectors' item.

Problem is nobody knows where Kim Johnsson is. He hasn't been around the team for more than a month. The pending free-agent defenseman and former Wild mobile and minute-munching dman, who was traded prior to the Olympics along with prospect Nick Leddy for Cam Barker, was sent back to his home Minnesota weeks ago.

I've tried calling him, but his phone just goes to voicemail. Maybe he's returned home to Sweden.

Regardless, he's only a Blackhawk by media guide only. He hasn't played since suffering a concussion March 13.

If the Blackhawks win the Cup, Johnsson won't get his name on the Cup. The rule is 41 regular-season games or 1 Stanley Cup Final game. There is a petition process, but it'd be hard to believe the Blackhawks would expend too much energy on that.

I suppose he could get a ring though if Chairman Rocky Wirtz is feeling generous.

Here's something funny: Chicago Tribune beat writer Chris Kuc never actually met Johnsson. Kuc was at the Olympics with me when the trade went down. Johnsson only played six games after the Olympics and Kuc only covered a few of those.

"Once I walked by him to get to Brian Campbell," Kuc said.

I just realized, Kuc never said hi to Johnsson and I never said goodbye.

In eight games with the Blackhawks, Johnsson scored a goal, two assists and was plus-7. I really wonder if Johnsson's going to play again. The Wild traded him because he never game them any indication he wanted to play next year, let alone re-sign. Regardless, the Wild felt his absence after the trade in my opinion. The one thing Johnsson was great at was getting the puck moving up ice. I think the Wild's forecheck was so lousy the last six weeks in large part because the puck was always pinned in its own end.

So, essentially the trade now is Cam Barker for University of Minnesota defenseman Nick Leddy. Barker's got tools, but the former No. 3 overall pick behind Ovechkin and Malkin  was extremely erratic with Minnesota. As I've mentioned before, mobility is my big concern with Barker. It's mostly his footwork, and I don't know how you remedy that at this stage. Leddy? He definitely doesn't have mobility issues, so it'll be interesting to see how he continues to develop at the U and once he gets into the Blackhawks' system. 

Anyhoo, I'm here in Chicago -- home of the future Nick Leddy -- for a few days. I wrote a column for Friday's paper, but I specifically came because I'm working on a large takeout on a certain player that will appear in Saturday's paper.

So check that out.

Today was media today, so I attended the availabilities for both teams and the pressers with both team's GM and coach. The Flyers are run by a St. Paul icon, a guy by the name of Paul Holmgren.

Couple other things:

--Interested in this?

 

 

Go to bigbuffshirt.com. A portion of the proceeds goes to Dream for Kids

--Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman -- Scotty's kid -- was asked why last summer the Blackhawks signed Marian Hossa instead of Martin Havlat: "I think with Marian, we were planning for the offseason last year right around this time. As we were winding down the series against the Red Wings and trying to decide what we were going to do, we realized that Hossa was the best player that could be available. We weren't sure how that was going to play out, if he was going to hit the market or not. But we knew if he did we wanted to make a strong push for him.

"His record speaks for itself in terms of his performance over a long period of years. He's been a consistent performer. I think more than anything, though, he played a style that we were trying to instill in some of our younger guys, which is he plays both ends of the ice. And I think we've seen that in the playoffs here. He's contributed offensively, but I think when you watch the game closely, you notice that he does all those little things so well. And I think it has rubbed off on some of our younger players. We got a lot of talented young offensive guys here. You want them to be surrounded by players that play hockey the right way. I'm sure Joel [Quenneville] would agree with that that it's not always easy to get your most skilled players to play as hard as Marian does away from the puck and coming back in his own end. So we knew if we ever had a chance to get a player like him, we would really have to make a hard push. I think he saw what was going on here with our team, and hockey has changed quite a bit in Chicago over the last couple of years."

--Moorhead, the hometown of the Cullen Bros. -- including one of my all-time favorite players I've covered, Matt -- has been awarded next season's Hockey Day Minnesota on Feb. 12, 2011. There will be a full day of hockey programming, including a Gophers game and a Wild game.

“I remember spending a lot of winter days on the outdoor rinks with my brothers and buddies,” said Matt Cullen. “We had a rink in the backyard that my dad built. We hung lights from the gutters so we could play at night with all our buddies. I still remember the silver bucket that was our Stanley Cup. We'd play all day and well into the night until mom called us in for hot chocolate. Some of my best hockey memories were made right on that rink. “

Cullen's a free agent, and if the price is right, the Wild should go after him. The Wild was interested three years ago, but he signed with the Rangers and the Wild signed Mark Parrish.

-- Speaking of which, the outdoor games will be announced tomorrow. Washington vs. Pittsburgh at Heinz Field and Calgary vs. Montreal at McMahon Stadium in Cal-Gar-ee.

Lastly, Wild VP of Communications and Broadcasting Bill Robertson, and the pride of Cretin-Derham Hall baseball (not Joe Mauer), is scheduled to be on Fox Sports North's postgame instructional on Target Field's field tonight. This should be a hoot. Of all days for me to be out of town.

-- This are silent with the Wild right now. They're all at the draft combine in Toronto. So far no nibbles on the three draft picks they plan to discard June 1 (see below blog).

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