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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Torchetti on Stanley Cup closing moments, Wild's new minor-league coach

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild off-season news Updated: June 16, 2010 - 11:58 AM

Good morning. I chatted with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti for awhile this morning for a feature I'm writing in the coming days. But I also talked to him on a few other subjects, especially the fact that last week he won his first Stanley Cup of his career.

He gave me some pretty good color of what happened after Patrick Kane scored the Cup-clinching goal that nobody knew went in except for Kane.

If you remember, as the players were celebrating behind the Chicago net, the three Blackhawks coaches stood side by side behind the bench as Torchetti was radioing upstairs to find out, "Is it in? Is it in?"

"But Kane had come by and said, 'It's [expletive] in. Get off the bench,'" Torchetti said, laughing. "I said, 'I don't know.' Joel [Quenneville] goes, 'I don't know either. Let's just wait.' Then they lifted up the net and it looked like a slow-motion film of the puck coming underneath the white thing and flopping. And I screamed, 'That's in.' Because all I kept thinking about before was Brett Hull's goal [in 1999].

"It was a lot of fun. It was a helluva ride, as they say."

As we moved on, Torchetti was all excited about "Mikey Yeo." The Wild has hired Yeo, the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach the past five seasons, as its Houston Aeros head coach in the American Hockey League.

"Great guy. I coached against him when he played in Houston with Tippy (Dave Tippett) when I was with San Antonio and Fort Wayne in the IHL. He was probably one of the better two-way players in the IHL. The compete was amazing. You noticed him every game. He caught your eye. And then we became friends through coaching when he was with Wilkes-Barre. I used to tell him when I first met him, 'Man, you were my type of player.'"

"He's a very good coach. After my first year, our power play was struggling and I wanted to do [Pittsburgh's] power play with the lefties --where they had Malkin, Crosby, Whitney, Gonchar. So I called him, and they were in the Eastern Conference, so he gave it to me and it was very effective and helped jump-start our power play here. That's a friend right there. Really good guy. I think the players are going to like him a lot too because he's not too far removed, but he's definitely a coachable coach. The way he played you knew he was probably going to be a coach because that's how he played the game -- like a coach. It's going to be a very good name for the fans down there to identify with because they liked him a lot when he played there."

Ironically, it was that power play that made Yeo the subject of criticism of at least the fans in Pittsburgh as you can read in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi's blog here.

Here's wild.com's Glen Andresen's piece on the hiring. Glen talked to Houston GM Jim Mill and to Yeo.

As for Torchetti, I'm guessing there's a chance he may be moving on from Chicago. He's sure to get some opportunities, especially in Atlanta, where he's already received permission to talk to them. Torchetti's held interim head jobs before in Florida and Los Angeles and is definitely ready to be a full-time head coach. But as I've written on here before, Craig Ramsay may be offered the head coaching job in Atlanta, which would leave the associate coach for Torchetti.

Thrashers GM Rick Dudley, I believe, wants to hire both. He respects the heck out of both of them. But because Ramsay likely can't leave Boston unless he's a head coach, Dudley may have to offer him the head job if he truly wants him in Atlanta. It'll be interesting.

Onto the Wild, I'll have a bunch articles coming up heading into next weekend's draft and free agency after that. I do have a notebook in tomorrow's paper on a couple subjects you'll want to read.

Also, for a feature I'm writing next week, I just spoke to Duluth native Derek Forbort, a talented two-way defenseman who patterns his game after the Wild's Brent Burns, on the phone. He was actually leaving the Wild's offices when he returned my call. Forbort, who's going to North Dakota and played for the US National Program in Ann Arbor, could be the top Minnesotan taken in next week's draft. He and Blaine's Nick Bjugstad are the top-two rated Minnesotans.

As I wrote a few weeks back, the Wild's brought in a number of prospects for chats and tests beyond the combine.

By the way, the Wild's hired San Jose Sharks assistant equipment manager Rick Bronwell as its new assistant equipment manager. He used to be the head equipment guy in Houston. He was also a king blogger for the Aeros' web site. As you can see here, he puts me to shame. Check out the cameo picture in the first one. That's now-Wild PR guru Ryan Stanzel, author of the famed RSS Feed.

Bronwell Blog 1

Bronwell Blog 2 -- funny one

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