Defenseman Ryan Suter took part in this morning’s skate, but he won’t play for the Wild tonight when it hosts the top team in the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks.
It’ll be Suter’s second missed game due to the mumps.
Coach Mike Yeo said it was a good sign to see Suter on the ice, but he’s still not 100 percent and with three days before the Wild hosts the New York Islanders, “hopefully we can get him back in the lineup for our next match.”
“I think the way he plays the game, I think he could have stepped in having not been on the ice for a few days and really not missed a beat, but not feeling 100 percent, it’s not worth it,” Yeo said.
The Wild has had five defensemen all miss games this season due to the mumps. The others were Marco Scandella (two games missed), Jonas Brodin (seven), Keith Ballard (eight) and Christian Folin (five).
Nate Prosser’s locker-room stall is in between two: Folin and Scandella.
“I got the booster,” Prosser said. “It’s kind of weird all the Dmen keep getting it. I’m doing what I can to prevent it and washing my hands a lot and staying away from the guys that have it. But for awhile there I was pretty nervous”
Jared Spurgeon’s stall is between Suter and Ballard. Brodin is around him, too.
“I got the immunization and just hope I don’t get it,” Spurgeon said. “It seems to be surrounding us all. We’re all in close proximity, so if you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it.”
Zach Parise joked that the forwards haven’t gotten the mumps because “we’re stronger and smarter. It’s a weird thing. Hopefully everyone’s doing everything they can to stop it from spreading. Hopefully this is the last case because it’s scary.
“I mean, what is this, the Oregon Trail? Where are we right now? Every team seems to get the flu once a year, but the mumps? You don’t hear about that, so hopefully it gets under control.”
On Anaheim, Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin and former Wild Clayton Stoner had the mumps. They all missed five games each.
“It’s crazy,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I wonder if there'll be any hitting out there today. Afraid to get anything on them.
“I’ve never experienced a mumps epidemic sort of thing in all the years I played. There’s something new every year, and good teams like Minnesota find ways to get around it.”
Asked how Suter being out would affect the Ducks tonight, Boudreau said, “I think Montreal had 10 shots halfway through the third period [Wednesday], so even though Suter’s a great player, they play extremely well defensively.”
Stoner said he was laid up for a few days, was sweating profusely and had a painful face (not really swollen) and aches. He thought he was better, skated and almost had a relapse where it got worse. That happened to Ballard, too.
Asked how he thinks it started, Stoner said, “We point the finger other places and people think it’s us. I got mine a week after I got the booster, but they say it takes a couple weeks for the vaccine to kick in.”
Stoner noted that the St. Louis Blues had a ton of cases, which is true. And remember, the Wild and Blues played an exhibition home and home in early October and then went through Anaheim a few weeks later.
Stoner, a Wild third-round pick in 2004, was with the organization for 10 years. He played 227 games for the Wild and weirdly was in the visiting locker room at Xcel Energy Center for the first time as a player since before he had a full-time job with the Wild. In training camp, the minor-leaguers and prospect are usually in the visitors’ locker room.
On playing his first game against the Wild as a visitor tonight (he played against Minnesota in Anaheim’s home opener in October), Stoner said, “I’ll probably be a little nervous before the game. I’m not going to lie. I played a lot of games in this building, and in front of the same fans. So I’ll be a little nervous.”
Stoner is likely soon going to be teammates with Ilya Bryzgalov again. The Ducks signed him to a tryout the other day (he’s not on the trop).
“The Bryzly Bear is back,” Stoner said. “I can’t get away from that guy. He’s a good guy. He was like, ‘Yeah, I was retiring, I was heading back to Russia for Christmas and I get a phone call.’ I asked him the last time he skated, and he said, ‘A couple months ago in Minnesota.’ I was like, ‘OK.’”
Yeo said Matt Cooke is at least a couple weeks away from rejoining the team.
He’ll miss his 17th game tonight with a hip flexor injury.
“Until I start to see him on the ice every day, we’re not at the point where we’re considering to play him,” Yeo said.
Yeo talked a lot about the high-powered Ducks.
“We played one of our best games of the season I could argue in their building earlier this year and lost, so that says something about what kind of team we’re playing against here,” Yeo said.
Wild has to stay out of the box. The Wild has given up no power-play goals in the past five games and two in the past 10, but the Ducks can light ya up.
With Josh Harding set to play the weekend for Iowa, Johan Gustafsson was assigned to ECHL Alaska.
“He’s got to play games,” said Iowa GM Jim Mill.
Raphael Bussieres was assigned, too.
No new news in the Thomas Vanek gambling stuff other than a new figure that Vanek allededly owed (To refresh your memory, here is the original story I wrote earlier this season and here’s a story with Vanek's admission of making mistakes).
An attorney for a one of the men who pleaded guilty Friday to illegal gambling, extortion and money laundering said the $230,000 Islanders check Vanek signed over last spring was just part of upward of $10 million in gambling losses that Vanek owed these guys.
That article from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle can be read here.
“Absolutely pure fiction, just a pie in the sky, made up number,” Vanek’s agent, Steve Barlett, told me by phone. “It’s unbelievable these lawyers keep popping off about my client when it’s their clients going to jail and my client did nothing illegal.
“Thomas was being extorted. Thomas made bad decisions, but he was far more the victim than anything. These weren’t all gambling losses. He was paying them more than he owed because they threatened to divulge what he was doing.
“Trust me, this poor kid won’t ever gamble again even if it was for 25 cents.”
We'll see if this is the last of this.