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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Posts about On the road

John Moore suspended five games for hit on Erik Haula

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: October 29, 2014 - 5:16 PM

The Wild didn't practice today, so injury updates will have to wait most likely until the morning skate, but coach Mike Yeo wasn't confident that Jonas Brodin would be able to play against the San Jose Sharks and Erik Haula might.

As reported in today's paper, the Wild is concerned Brodin could be longer. As for Haula, Yeo said yesterday that he wasn't diagnosed with a concussion, but the team wanted to be cautious because of how often concussed players show symptoms a few days later. The Wild especially has experience with that.

John Moore, the New York Rangers defenseman who struck Haula on Monday with an illegal check to the head in the second period, was suspended five games today by the NHL. He had an in-person hearing and could have been suspended more than five games, but the NHL's Department of Player Safety gave him five games. That number means Moore won't be able to appeal the suspension to a neutral arbitrator. Not saying that's why he got five, just pointing out the significance of it being less than six.

Here is the video

The gist of the video: After Haula snaps a shot on net as Moore closes in, Moore drives his shoulder into Haula. The initial contact, the league says, was with Haula's shoulder, but the main point of contact on the hit was Haula's head.

Stephane Quintal notes Haula is eligible to be checked here, that the hit wasn't late, but if Moore's to render this extremently difficult check, "his timing and angle of approach must ensure that he hits squarely through the body and that Haula's head is not the main point of contact. Moore does neither. Haula’s head absorbs the brunt of Moore’s shoulder."

Moore, a repeat offender, loses $51,859.75 in salary because his lost money is based on 5, 82 game checks rather than 5 days of salary.

In the meantime, the Wild opens a three-game homestand against Brent Burns, the NHL's leading scorer among defensemen (yeah, he's a blue-liner again), and the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.

I'll be on KFAN live from the penalty box from 9:55 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Thursday and on Fox Sports North Plus Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and during the first intermission.

Some highlights from my preview box:

-- The Wild has outshot all eight opponents this season (274-181), averaging the second-most shots per game (34.2) and allowing the fewest (22.6).

-- D Marco Scandella, who scored his third career winning goal Tuesday, is tied with D Ryan Suter for first on the team with a plus-8. Scandella has been an even or better in every game.

-- C Ryan Carter, a White Bear Lake native, has an assist in five of the past six games and leads the Wild with 16 hits. LW Jason Zucker has three goals and an assist in the past three games.

-- G Darcy Kuemper will probably get a chance to bounce back after allowing five goals in the third period Monday at the Rangers.

-- The Wild’s power play is 0 for 26 and has gone eight straight games without a power-play goal, which is tied for the team record according to the Elias Sports Bureau (five times).

-- The Wild has been shorthanded the fewest times in the NHL (22), has the NHL’s third-best penalty kill (90.9 percent) and is tied for the second-fewest minor penalties (29).

-- According to Elias, last night's 4-3 win over Boston marked just the third time in Wild history the team has won a game in regulation time when trailing by two goals in the third period. The other such occasions: Jan. 16, 2004 vs. PIT (trailed 2-0 and won 4-2) and Dec. 18, 2007 vs. NSH (trailed 2-0 and won 3-2). So, first time on the road.

-- I wrote an article for Thursday's paper on the Wild's ongoing attempt to spark offense from Mikko Koivu and goals from Thomas Vanek, so give that a read.

Matt Cooke: I always have my head on a swivel; Stu Bickel may debut

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: October 11, 2014 - 4:03 PM

It’s weird, but after tonight, the Wild and Avalanche won’t play again until Feb. 7 and not again in Denver until Feb. 28.

These two teams have grown so accustomed to seeing each other, and as defenseman Jared Spurgeon said this morning, Denver almost feels like the Wild’s second home.

“We know where to go, that’s for sure,” coach Mike Yeo said. “We even said that on the way over [to the arena on the bus], it’s going to be weird going and playing somewhere else on the road because we’ve been here so much.”

The Wild and Avs play each other tonight in Denver (8 p.m. CT, FSN, KFAN; the Wild is holding a free viewing party at Xcel Energy Center, where it will show tonight's game on the new scoreboard) for the first time since the Wild fought back from a goal down four times to win Game 7 of the Western Conference quarterfinals in overtime April 30. It’s the second game of the season for each team after the Wild pounded Colorado, 5-0, in St. Paul on Thursday.

But, Yeo’s message again to his team, “Not a lot of thought’s going back toward last year. Not a lot of thought’s going back toward last game. Really just focused on this one.”

Avs coach Patrick Roy will scramble his lines tonight.

The top 3 will be Jamie McGinn-Matt Duchene-Jarome Iginla; Alex Tanguay-Nathan MacKinnon-Daniel Briere; Gabriel Landeskog-Ryan O’Reilly-Dennis Everberg.

On the blue line, Nate Guenin won’t play and Ryan Wilson will be inserted.

Top 3 lines, top 6 D and Darcy Kuemper are the same for the Wild, but Stu Bickel may get in on the fourth line, meaning Jason Zucker, Ryan Carter or Kyle Brodziak would be scratched if Bickel plays. He will at least skate warmups. If Brodziak comes out, Carter would have to slide to center.

Yeo really liked his fourth line of Zucker-Brodziak-Carter on Thursday, so I’m a little surprised Yeo’s thinking of cracking it at least for one night. It didn’t become apparent to me that Bickel may be playing until after Yeo’s availability, so my assumption is Yeo is thinking of playing Bickel because of all the talk the last couple days of redemption for last playoff’s Matt Cooke on Tyson Barrie knee-on-knee hit and Roy telling Denver Post columnist Mike Kiszla, “One day, it might be the opposite. One of our players will hurt one of their guys. And I'm sure everybody is going to be very happy to remind (Minnesota) what happened to Tyson Barrie.”

Kiszla offered this last line in his column: “Free advice to Cooke: Keep your head on a swivel. The first shot of the game might be a fist directed at a lowdown, dirty Wild man certain to be greeted in Denver by a chorus of boos.”

Cooke, with a grin, said he didn’t read the column. Cooke reads everything, so he surely knows what was said by Roy and the Denver writer.

I caught up to Cooke as he walked to the bus after the skate.

He said if the fans want to boo, “That’s up to the fans. I don’t control that kind of stuff. I just have to go out and prepare like it’s another game.”

As for keeping his head up like Kiszla graciously suggested, Cooke said, “I always have my head on a swivel. That’s the way I play the game. I hit guys and I expect to be hit. That’s part of the game and what I expect. Obviously emotions are high and things are said at times, but it really doesn’t have any effect on how I prepare to play the game tonight.”

If you didn’t see my Cooke piece prior to Thursday’s game, here that is again.

If you forgot, go to wild.com, but the last time Cooke was in this building, he was ecstatic in the locker room and greeted every teammate enthusiastically as they entered the locker room following the Game 7 win. Cooke says that had nothing to do with knowing that he would be able to return in Game 4 of the second round against Chicago. It’s because he was so proud of what the team accomplished, especially young guys like Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula.

Roy just wants his team to play better tonight than it did while being humiliated by the Wild two nights ago. He didn’t practice the Avs yesterday. Instead, they met.

“They were not happy with their performance,” Roy said. “I think it’s important to regroup. We talked about it. We know we’re going to have to compete better than what we did. That was the big difference in that game. They were sharp, they were moving the puck quick, they were first on pucks, they were winning those battles.

“If we compete in front of the net, I think it'll be a lot different tonight -- both nets.

“Tonight, in front of our fans, the start of the game will be key for us. If we can score a goal early, it’s going to help us even more.”

Yeo said, “I’m not going to spend a lot of time sitting around thinking about what to expect from them. I’m just a lot more focused on what we’re going to bring tonight. Our first road game of the year. I want to become a good road team and this will be a good challenge against a team that we know wants to come with a good effort, are going to want to bounce back and wants to have a good show in front of their home crowd.

“Last game is behind us. Last game was last game. This is a different circumstance. We’re playing a different team tonight. We’re playing in a different building. This will be a new challenge.”

Yeo again said he is not worried about playing rookie defensemen Matt Dumba and Christian Folin as a pair tonight. This will be Folin’s first NHL road game.

“Listen, if you’re going to be on our team, then you have to play in tough buildings and you have to play against good teams. We don’t want to have guys on our team that we feel we have to hide. There’s no other way to get that experience except to go out there and deal with it. Obviously we’ll pay attention to matchups like we always do. But there’s no easing into it.”

Niederreiter sat in the same stall he always does in the visitors’ room at Pepsi Center. The man who scored the Game 7 OT winner said, “It’s always a special feeling coming back here. The whole series was such a fun series. I felt like we played some great hockey in this building. We were always very close. And obviously I will never forget Game 7.”

He admitted that while he was on the ice for the morning skate, “a few things came to mind. I like to come here. It’s a great city. It’s a great atmosphere and great building to play in.”

Talk to you tonight on Twitter (@russostrib) and after the game.

Wild opens season Oct. 9 vs. Colorado; Why no outdoor game?

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: June 21, 2014 - 9:56 AM

The Wild's schedule is expected to be released Sunday afternoon, but I have heard a few details through the grapevine -- one that is expected to be announced later Saturday.

The Wild will open the season Oct. 9 with a home-and-home against the Colorado Avalanche, the Central Division champs the Wild defeated in seven games in the first round a few months back. 

The Wild's supposed to continue to Anaheim and Cup champion Los Angeles after playing in Denver, but unless the Wild managed to get the NHL to squeeze another game in there, the Wild, last I heard, had five or six days off before playing its third game of the season in Anaheim.

Some other tidbits: The Kings come to Minnesota the first time Nov. 26. The Wild has a home-and-home with Winnipeg in December, plays in Columbus on New Year's Eve and closes the season with three games on the road in a bit of a meat grinder at Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis. That follows consecutive home games against the Rangers, Detroit and Winnipeg.

As I mentioned last week, no outdoor game this season. It was supposed to be in February against Dallas at Target Field.

According to an NHL source, the Wild is at the "top of the list" for a stadium-series game and was scheduled to have a game this year. What held it up was timing and logistics, the source said. The Wild wants to make this a huge event by having outdoor high school and college games accompanying the stadium series game.

The problem, I'm told, is the league wants the game to be here in February and for this upcoming season, the colleges had their schedules already booked and couldn't just insert an outdoor game into their schedules right before their playoffs. In addition, February is getting awfully close to Twins season and could cause havoc on Target Field's ... field.

The league source said, "At the end of the day, both of us determined that next year would be better. It's going to happen next year."

We'll see though. As we have learned, everything is subject to change (I reported during the playoffs the Wild would be getting a stadium-series game next season and now it isn't) and the Wild still would prefer the actual Winter Classic. The problem though is according to a league source the 2016 Winter Classic site has been determined. Although it hasn't been announced where, the game has not been awarded to Minnesota, so the soonest the Wild could host one is 2017.

Personally, I still hear there's more to this stadium-series thing that has nothing to do with the Wild and that's why the stadium-series games were scaled down this year to one. Next year, I'm told we're going to see more than one game again.

CELEBRITIES ANNOUNCED FOR 2014 WELLS FARGO MINNESOTA WILD ROAD TOUR

    SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Wild and Wells Fargo have announced the celebrities and exact locations for the annual Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild Road Tour, set for Tuesday, June 24 through Thursday, June 26. The Road Tour will lead up to the Summer Bash/NHL Draft Watch Party on Friday, June 27, at Xcel Energy Center.


    The Western Tour will feature Wild player Matt Cooke, alumni Wes Walz and Wild television analyst Mike Greenlay. The Northern Tour will have Wild players Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker, as well as Wild radio personalities Tom Reid and Kevin Falness. The Southern leg features Wild players Erik Haula and Stephane Veilleux, alumni Antti Laaksonen and Wild television play-by-play announcer Anthony LaPanta.

Western Tour (Cooke, Walz, Greenlay)

Tuesday, June 24

Moorhead: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Moorhead Youth Hockey Arena (707 Main Ave. SE)

Fergus Falls: 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at Fergus Falls Community Ice Arena (340 Friberg Ave.)

Wednesday, June 25

Morris: 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Lee Community Center (101 S. County Rd. 22)

Marshall: 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Lockwood Motors Ice Arena (512 Fairgrounds Rd.)

Thursday, June 26

Worthington: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Worthington Arena (1600 Stower Dr.)

Blue Earth: 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Bank (201 E. 7th St.)


Southern Tour (Haula, Veilleux, Laaksonen, LaPanta*)

Tuesday, June 24

Des Moines, Iowa: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena (833 5th Ave.)

Waterloo, Iowa: 4-5 p.m. at Young Arena (125 Commercial St.)

Wednesday, June 25

Mankato: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at All Seasons Arena (1251 Monks Ave.)

Faribault: 2-3 p.m. at Faribault Ice Arena (1816 NW 2nd Ave.)

Thursday, June 26

Rochester: 12-1 p.m. at Graham Arena - Rink One (1570 Fairgrounds Ave. SE)

Red Wing: 3-4 p.m. at Prairie Island Arena (370 Guernsey Lane)

*June 25 and June 26 only

Northern Tour (Coyle, Zucker, Reid, Falness)

Tuesday, June 24

Silver Bay: 12-1 p.m. at Rukavina Arena (129 Outer Dr.)

Hibbing: 5-6 p.m. at Fairground Arena (1100 E. 25th St.)

Wednesday, June 25

Duluth: 12-1 p.m. at Duluth Heritage Sports Center (120 S. 30th Ave. W)

Pequot Lakes: 6-7 p.m. at Breezy Point Hockey Center (7370 County Rd. 11)

Thursday, June 26

Princeton: 12-1 p.m. at Princeton Ice Arena (511 Ice Arena Dr.)

Buffalo: 3-4 p.m. at Buffalo Municipal Airport (1305 County Rd. 134)

    The Wild will hold the Wells Fargo Summer Bash/NHL Draft Watch Party at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul on Friday, June 27, from 6-10 p.m. There will be Wild player photographs and autographs, NHL alumni autographs, a live broadcast from KFAN 100.3 FM, as well as tours of the press box and Wild locker room.

Wild exhibition schedule; Wild expected to sign Gelinas on July 1; Other Wild thoughts

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: June 18, 2014 - 2:16 PM

Good day from partly cloudy, mostly humid Minneapolis. Here's a Wild update:

1. Preseason schedule has been announced: Six-game schedule with home-and-homes (so to speak) with Winnipeg, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Training camp is expected to begin Sept. 18.

Sept. 22 at Winnipeg, 7 p.m.; Sept. 25 at Pittsburgh, 6 p.m.; Sept. 27 vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.; Sept. 29 vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.; Oct. 2 at St. Louis, 7 p.m.; Oct. 4 vs. St. Louis, 7 p.m.

Tickets will go on sale later this summer.

My guess is the Wild then heads to Duluth on Oct. 5 for a few days of practice. Just conjecture, but it fits before the opener later that week and the Wild loves the facilities and ability to do some team bonding up in UMD Country.

2. Last I heard, the NHL plans to release all schedules Sunday. Weird day to do so, but that's always a fun day. As I mentioned the other day, no outdoor game this year. The league is scaling back to one stadium series game. Also, for a change, I heard the Wild's on the road New Year's Eve!

3. I plan to host a draft/free agency live chat on startribune.com next Friday (Round 1 is later that night). Time to be announced.

4. The Wild's expected to sign undrafted free agent defenseman Guillaume Gelinas on July 1. The signing was first reported (I believe) by TVA Sports in Quebec. It's a verbal commitment right now because as of June 1, there was a freeze for undrafted North American free agents (the Wild signed undrafted forwards Brady Brassart and Zack Mitchell in March) until July 1.

Gelinas, 21, was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's best defenseman this past season after scoring 23 goals and 92 points in 67 games for Val-d'Or. He scored another 34 points in 24 playoff games for a team that lost the Memorial Cup to Edmonton.

Wild's trying to put an influx of skill on AHL Iowa after a very tough season in which the Baby Wild lacked skill, health and was probably too old.

Gelinas is skilled and competitive but 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, so initially the AHL will be a decent step.

So, it's a flier.

Maybe Gelinas turns out to be Jared Spurgeon, who also had a terrific junior career (139 points in his last three years; harder to score in the W than the Q, so apples and oranges in terms of stats) before not being signed by the Islanders and then going untouched through another draft.

Maybe Gelinas turns out to be Michel Periard. Who? He's just a name that kind of jumped into my head because he was of similar stature and had similar stats in the Q (100 points his last year, I think) to Gelinas probably 15 years ago. Chuck Fletcher's Florida Panthers took a flier on him and he never played North American pro hockey beyond the A.

My point: Risk-free move, but let's be realistic with expectations. Maybe he turns out to be a player. Maybe he doesn't. When the Wild signed Spurgeon, I probably put a single line into the paper. Same thing with Brassart and Mitchell. Heck, when the Wild signed Niklas Backstrom as the first-ever European free agent under the previous CBA, I put a single paragraph. All he did was become the Wild's all-time goaltending leader in games and wins.

It's just hard to know with undrafted players until the Wild gets its grip on them and has a chance to develop them.

5. The salary cap is expected to be close to $70 million when it's announced next week. The Wild's will be a shade under after a slight bonus overage. Fletcher told me during the playoffs that Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jonas Brodin hit bonuses. Capgeek.come has it as Niederreiter and Haula earning each $212,500 for plus-minus and Brodin $425,000 for time on ice.

That's $825,000 in bonuses. But I'm told the Wild didn't go over the cap by that much, so the overage on next year's cap will be less. Either way, the overage shouldn't impact the Wild in its offseason business because Fletcher will always try to be at least $2 million or more under the cap so the team can make in-season injury callups and potential trades.

6. Lot of questions as to whether the Wild may pursue Cup champ Willie Mitchell in free agency. My guess: It makes sense if the Wild's unable to re-sign Clayton Stoner. Stoner and Mitchell seemingly would play the same role (third-pair, left-shot, physical D). As I mentioned last week, the Wild will try to re-sign Stoner, but maybe his solid postseason will allow him to cash in as a UFA more than the Wild's willing to commit. Stoner will have to decide that.

7. Some questions from you as to whether the Wild may pursue Shawn Thornton now that Boston's moving on from the rugged winger. I've heard through sources that the Wild would like to re-sign Cody McCormick, but Thornton is arguably a better, tougher player (more expensive, too), so maybe the Wild holds off on trying to sign McCormick just to see if it has a shot at Thornton. I don't see why there's a rush to re-sign McCormick, so if it were me, I'd wait to see what Thornton is thinking. I'm sure he'll have a lot of interest though.

Interesting dynamic to this year's draft. The free-agent interview period begins Wednesday. This is a new wrinkle thrown into this CBA where teams are allowed to court July 1 pending free agents, bring them to cities to check it out, etc. Well, the entire NHL will be in Philadelphia from Wednesday-Saturday night or Sunday morning, so one wonders if the draft becomes a free-agent recruiting party.

It certainly makes sense for agents to bring their free agents to Philly and line up meeting after meeting.

Mike Yeo on Game 6: Wild's survival instincts stronger than its killer instinct

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: May 13, 2014 - 1:14 PM

The Wild and Chicago Blackhawks play Game 6 tonight at Xcel Energy Center (8 p.m., CNBC).

A Wild win, and Game 7 at 7 p.m. Thursday in Chicago. A Blackhawks win, and they advance to play the winner of Anaheim-Los Angeles (Ducks are up 3-2). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Wild's looking to become the first NHL team to force consecutive Game 7s in one postseason without series lead since the 1987 Isles.

I’ll be on Fox Sports North tonight at 7:20.

The Wild has rallied from 0-2 deficits in each of the past two series only to lose Game 5. Last round, it forced a Game 7 and eventually eliminated Colorado.

“Our survival instincts have been much stronger than our killer instincts,” coach Mike Yeo said this morning. “Certainly it will be tested again tonight.”

Nobody can question Chicago’s killer instincts. The Blackhawks never want to take their chances in Game 7.

According to the Chicago Sun Times’ Mark Potash, they are 7-0 in Game 6 clinchers, including a 5-0 mark on the road.

In Game 6 against Colorado, Zach Parise had two goals and two assists.

“Just knowing that we’ve been here,” Parise said. “I think there’s a lot of similarities between the two series. The games that we’ve lost we feel like we may not have played great, but we’ve had a chance to win. I’m sure they’re saying the same things about the games here. We’ve played pretty well throughout and that was the same as last series. I think we feel good about it because we’re still pretty confident in here.”

The Wild is 5-0 at home this postseason, outscoring Chicago and Colorado 16-5, including 4-0 and 4-2 against the Blackhawks.

In the seven Game 6 clinchers according to Potash, Kane has seven goals, 12 points and is plus-6. Toews has five goals, 11 points and is plus-5.

Don't expect a big motivational speeck from Joel Quenneville tonight: "I'm not a very frilly guy with the motivational speeches. I might have tried one of those motivational speeches, and I probably blew it."

Two lineup changes for the Wild tonight:

Keith Ballard will replace Nate Prosser after missing Game 5 following the Brandon Bollig hit from behind. Darcy Kuemper will back up Ilya Bryzgalov instead of John Curry.

As for the Hawks:

Ryan Suter missed the morning skate because he had a dentist appointment, according to Yeo.

“Scheduled cleaning,” Yeo said, smiling. “So that’s why he was not there.”

Frankly, I don’t think he was kidding.

On Kuemper backing up, Yeo said, “It’s been kind of coming about for the last couple days. It’s tough between Hards and Johnny Curry and Kuemps, obviously we make sure that Bryz gets what he needs every morning, and we don’t have a ton of quality practice time right now, so when you have three guys pretty much sharing one net, it’s kind of difficult for any of those guys to get the workload that he needs. But he had a real good practice yesterday, he felt really good, so this has been coming for a couple days and happy to have him back.

Matt Moulson skated during today’s skate but won’t play. He has a lower-body injury, but like I said yesterday, who do you put him in for?

“He's close,” Yeo said. “I think it was important for him to have a good skate today and hopefully we can take care of business and make a decision based on the next game. Obviously we've got to take care of tonight, first.”

On tonight’s must-win, Yeo said, “I'm excited. I would say that there's pressure on both teams, and if you don't embrace that, then there's something wrong. You don't coach or you don't play to play an exhibition game or Game 23 of the regular season. You do all that stuff to get yourself to this point. These are the games you dream of and, with that, we all have got to find a way to be at our best tonight and embrace that challenge. It's going to be a great one. They're going to play really well and, with that, we should make sure that we go all-in with our game. We can't play with any fear. We have to make sure that we're not afraid of anything, that we might lose. The only thing that should be entering our thought process is what's a possibility of being gained.”

Ballard is excited to be back.

I feel fine. I felt fine for a couple days. I think we were being fairly cautious that night. By the time I got done seeing the doctors, it was in the third period. We were trying to be pretty smart about it. There was no chance that I would play if I had symptoms. I'd been through that before, been down that road a couple times, and the more you kind of learn about these things and the more information that's coming out, the long-term effects, they're not worth it to put yourself in that situation.”

On the awareness of concussions, Ballard said, “They've become more strict over the years and more aware of the effects of playing after without seeing a doctor and making sure there's no symptoms. They're doing their job.

“I think sometimes, you don't know how you're feeling unless you've been through it a couple times and understand the symptoms. You think, ‘ah, I don't have a headache, but I don't feel right. I'm a little bit out of it. I'm more irritable’ or whatever. There's so many different symptoms, and I've had over the years a couple concussions. I've become more aware of how I'm feeling and understanding what goes along with it.

“It's not an injury that you necessarily are in a lot of pain or anything. You get some headaches here and there. They can all vary, too. It's just more of when you know the long-term effects. I've got little kids at home. I don't want to be putting myself in a position where in 10 years I can't remember their names and can't get through a day functioning normally, so that's the scary part of these things.”

On Bollig’s two-game suspension, I don't really care that much about it. I don't think it was a good hit, but I also understand the circumstances. It's a big game, and he's trying to generate some energy. I don't think it was a smart hit, but I don't think it was some of the worst things we see out there sometimes. I think sometimes the energy of the game, the emotion and the type of player -- everybody has those players -- they're out there and trying to generate some momentum and be physical, and it was just maybe a little bit over the line.

Asked if he heard from Bollig, Ballard said, “No. Too much gets made of the whole 'did he text you? … I honestly don't care. That's what happens, right? I've hit guys, and they've been injured. I don't think it was an overly malicious kind of hit. It was probably a dumb play, but that stuff doesn't really matter to me.”

The Portland Winterhawks blew a 2-0 series lead and lost in Game 7 to Edmonton last night, meaning no Memorial Cup for Matt Dumba.

He led the WHL in plus-minus with a plus-18 and led WHL defensemen with eight goals and was tied for second among defensemen with 18 points.

Today’s the three-year anniversary of Derek Boogaard’s death in his downtown Minneapolis apartment. Keep the big guy’s family in your thoughts.

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