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Michael Russo

Reporter | Wild, NHL
Recent content from Michael Russo
Bryan Murray’s funeral is Tuesday; on Thursday, a celebration of life will be held at the Ottawa Senators’ arena.

Wild's Fletcher, Flahr owe much to late NHL executive Bryan Murray

Murray's hiring of Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr began a long working relationship and close-knit friendship that others in hockey were fortunate enough to share.
Matt Cullen got a hug from his father Terry after Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup last season.

Coming home: Cullen to join Wild, play 20th NHL season

Native Minnesotan Matt Cullen called joining the Wild for the 2017-18 season a "family decision." He has won three Stanley Cups, and will turn 41 in November.
Nick Bjugstad (right) and Zane McIntyre signed autographs for kids after their games in Da Beauty League on a recent Monday.

Da Beauty League: A chance to watch pro hockey stars up close

In the waning minutes of every game in Da Beauty League, dozens of kids in hockey garb press against each railing at the Zamboni entrance inside Edina's Braemar Arena.
Mikael Granlund led the Wild in scoring last season.

Granlund, Wild agree to three-year deal with benefits for both sides

In avoiding Friday's arbitration hearing, Mikael Granlund's agent didn't want a multiyear contract to go too long-term.
Minnesota Wild right wing Nino Niederreiter

Niederreiter ready for more ice time after new deal with Wild

After a career year in which he scored 25 goals and 57 points, Nino Niederreiter has loftier expectations after signing a five-year deal with the Wild.
Three weeks after filing for arbitration and four days before the scheduled hearing, Wild right winger Nino Niederreiter settled Sunday night by signi

Niederreiter avoids arbitration, signs five-year contract with Wild

Niederreiter's contract, which has no no-trade protection and buys three of his unrestricted free agency years, was right in line with the market for other recent deals.
Mikael Granlund, left, and Nino Niederreiter at the 2016 Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium.

Can Wild avoid arbitration hearings with Niederreiter, Granlund?

Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund are thought to be seeking long-term contracts north of $6 million annually. They have hearings scheduled for next week.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau is now majority owner of a junior hockey team.

Wild's Boudreau among owners of new Twin Cities junior hockey team

The Tier III expansion team is based in Coon Rapids and will debut its 44-game schedule at home Sept. 22. The Wild coach will attend tryouts this weekend.
Marco Scandella says he was mentally prepared to be traded by the Wild after seven seasons with them.

Scandella 'all ears' as he heads to Buffalo and coach Housley

Marco Scandella, the second-longest tenured Wild player until being traded, said he's looking forward to playing for Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley in Buffalo.
Mikael Granlund, right, celebrates a goal with Nino Neiderreiter last season. Their contracts will determine other moves that Wild general manager Chu

Wild turning attention to signing restricted free agents Granlund, Neiderreiter

Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter, both coming off career years, have filed for salary arbitration. Their salaries will have an impact on other moves the Wild can make.
Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund (64) is shoved by New Jersey Devils defenseman Kyle Quincey (22) as he screens goalie Cory Schneider just as an

Wild addresses depth, signs seven on Day 1 of free agency

Veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey was the top signing Saturday, inking a one-year, $1.25 million deal. The Wild signed six others but talks with Matt Cullen haven't led to deal.
Matt Cullen has won consecutive Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh. AP photo.

Is Matt Cullen on Wild's free agency wish list?

Stanley Cup-winning center could be biggest move team makes on first day of wheeling and dealing.
Feisty Wild winger Jason Zucker is hoping having an NHL team in Vegas will boost youth hockey. Star Tribune photo by Aaron Lavinsky.

Vegas-raised Zucker has high hopes for NHL in town where he grew up

As much as Jason Zucker tries to dodge the Vegas strip, he'll have no choice next March 16 when the Wild's scheduled to play its first-ever game against the expansion Golden Knights
If the Wild can work out a deal for defenseman Marco Scandella, it would free up money for the team to be more aggressive in its quest for free agents

As Wild turns to free agency, don't count out a significant trade

All the team's activities Monday indicate a trade could be around the corner. Some kind of deal is needed in order for the Wild to free up salary cap money for free agency.
Bob Woods announced as new Wild assistant coach

Bob Woods announced as new Wild assistant coach

Head coach Bruce Boudreau and Woods will coach together for the fourth time.
Casey Mittelstadt, left, shakes hands with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after being selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the NHL hock

North stars: 3 from Minn. go in NHL draft's 1st round

While it may have been an uneventful day for the Wild, it wasn't for Minnesotans Casey Mittelstadt, Ryan Poehling and Jake Oettinger. Mittelstadt, the Minnesota Mr. Hockey from Eden Prairie, was drafted eighth by the Buffalo Sabres. And then Lakeville pals Poehling and Oettinger went back-to-back late in the first round.
Minnesota Wild's Mikko Koivu poses before the NHL Awards, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Koivu knows contract status not a top Wild priority, yet

Wild captain Mikko Koivu knows GM Chuck Fletcher has a lot on his plate before he can even think about maybe talking to him about a contract extension.
Chuck Fletcher.

After saving defensemen from expansion, will Fletcher trade one?

It's a a good bet Wild GM Chuck Fletcher wheels and deals in Chicago during this weekend's draft. Round 1 is Friday night, Rounds 2-7 are Saturday night.
Erik Haula (left) is leaving the Wild for Vegas. Star Tribune photo by Carlos Gonzalez.

Leaving the Wild: Haula excited about 'a fresh start'

After being relegated for much of last season to the fourth line in Minnesota, Haula's excited for the new opportunity he'll receive with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
Erik Haula, center, is the newest member of the Vegas Golden Knights.

It's official: Vegas inks Wild's Haula, acquires Tuch

Erik Haula, who could have become a restricted free agent July 1, signed a three-year, $8.25 million contract with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Wild monitoring Hossa's situation for salary cap ramifications

Many teams, including the Wild, will be eyeballing how the NHL handles the Marian Hossa situation with the Blackhawks. Hossa's career might be over because of a skin allergy.
Minnesota Wild left wing Erik Haula could be headed to Las Vegas.

Sources: Expansion Vegas team negotiating with Wild free agent Haula

If the Golden Knights sign the former two-time University of Minnesota leading scorer, Erik Haula would count as the Wild's lost player in expansion.
Mikko Koivu (9) and Mikael Granlund (64) celebrated after Koivu shot the puck past Kings goalie Jeff Zatkoff last season.

Koivu, Granlund humbled being NHL award finalists in Vegas

The Wild's Mikko Koivu is up for the Selke Trophy, and Mikael Granlund for the Lady Byng. The awards will be revealed Wednesday night.
Casey Mittelstadt starred for Eden Prairie and is expected to be a high NHL draft choice.

How high will he go? Mittelstadt rides NHL draft excitement, stress

Gophers freshman Casey Mittelstadt could become be the highest-drafted Minnesotan since Ryan McDonagh, another Mr. Hockey winner, went 12th overall to the New York Rangers in 2007.
Boston University's Jake Oettinger won gold and bronze medals with the Under-18 team at the world championships, then backstopped the U.S. to gold at

Lakeville North pals mature into potential first-round NHL draft picks

St. Cloud State center Ryan Poehling and Boston University goaltender Jake Oettinger grew up a three-minute drive from each other, and work out and skate together in the summer.
Wild defensemen Jonas Brodin, left, and Matt Dumba: Brodin was put on the Wild's protected list for the NHL expansion draft; Dumba was not.

Dumba, Staal, Scandella biggest Wild names unprotected for expansion

After a year of fretting and speculating, Wild fans know the full list of 23 players who were left exposed for the Las Vegas team to take one from in Wednesday's expansion draft.
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher.

Wild and NHL wait as expansion roster deadline nears

GM Chuck Fletcher, trying to keep losses to a minimum, was in trade talks in advance of a moratorium early Saturday afternoon.
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher

Wild makes no moves as deadline passes

With lists submitted, any Wild moves now must go through Golden Knights.
Jonas Brodin (25) and Matt Dumba (24)

Wild gets 'quality' trade offers for Brodin, Dumba

The team might be trying to move one of its better defensemen to avoid losing him in the expansion draft.
Chuck Fletcher:  Wild GM can’t avoid losing quality player to new Vegas team.

Wild GM Fletcher talking possible trades with expansion Vegas but nothing completed

Vegas' debut roster will be announced throughout next Wednesday's NHL Awards Show. The Wild almost certainly will lose a good player in the expansion draft.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby got a skate with the Stanley Cup for the third time in his career. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy after the Penguins fin

Crosby finds motivation to lead Penguins to third Cup

In hindsight, P.K. Subban probably should have avoided poking the bear and dragging Sidney Crosby into ListerineGate.
Penguins center Jake Guentzel gathered on the Bridgestone Arena ice with his family after Pittsburgh's 2-0 Game 6, Stanley Cup-clinching victory over

Dream comes true for Penguins rookie Guentzel

Hill-Murray graduate Jake Guentzel became the first rookie in NHL history to lead the postseason in goals (13) -- and won the Stanley Cup as well.
The Penguins' Matt Cullen got a postgame hug from his father, Terry, after Pittsburgh beat Nashville 2-0 in Game 6 Sunday to win back-to-back Stanley

Penguins' Cullen, in 'likely' his last game, makes a big impact

The Minnesota native, 40, was solid on penalty kill and won key faceoffs.
Pittsburgh Penguins' Patric Hornqvist (72), of Sweden, hoists the Stanley Cup after defeating Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley

Penguins break tie with 95 seconds left, win back-to-back Cups

Former Predators fan favorite Patric Hornqvist returned to Music City, spoiled Nashville's party and delivered the NHL its first repeat champion since 1998.
The run-ins between Nashville’s P.K. Subban and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in Game 5 briefly became a budding story line, but the high stakes in G

Nashville fired up for Game 6, but can't rely on fans for energy

Nashville will have its fired-up fan base but needs to play better to survive.
Matt Cullen (Associated Press photo)

Matt Cullen eyes another Stanley Cup as career winds down

Cullen has treated this season as his last. His wife is homesick for Minnesota, and he craves the chance to coach his three hockey-loving boys.
Eric Staal and Nino Niederreiter (22) are two of the players the Wild needs to make decisions about protecing as the NHL expansions draft to fill the

Roster dilemmas: Wild facing tough choices as NHL expansion nears

The Wild has complicated expansion decisions to make about whom to protect on its roster, and there are rumors that management is working to make a significant trade.
Pittsburgh’s Ron Hainsey, center, celebrated his second-period goal with Evgeni Malkin, left, and Phil Kessel.

'Real hockey starts now' as Penguins move within one game of Cup

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel combined for eight points, chasing Nashville's Pekka Rinne from the net as Pittsburgh moved within one win of lifting the Stanley Cup again.
Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Josh Archibald (45) is checked by Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot (3) during the first period of Game 4 of the N

Brainerd's Archibald relishes his rare chance with Penguins

Josh Archibald didn't play in Game 5 on Thursday, but he did skate in Game 4. The rule for having one's name etched on the Stanley Cup is 41 games played or one game in the Stanley Cup Final with the winner.
Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel has seven goals in the playoffs but none so far in the Stanley Cup Final. ‘‘When the stakes are highest, he raises his

Former Gophers star Kessel struggling to find his scoring touch

Phil Kessel has been limited to one assist and nine shots in four games in the Stanley Cup finals, a series in which the Penguins are 1-for-16 on the power play. Game 5 is tonight.
Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, reaches to make a stop against the Pittsburgh PenguinsGame 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Fi

Predators goalie Rinne quickly rewards his coach's faith

Pekka Rinne's strong play has the Predators two wins from the Stanley Cup. He is 9-1 at home in the playoffs with a .949 save percentage.
Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, stops a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz (14) during the second period in G

Predators impress at home, beat Penguins 4-1 to tie Stanley Cup Final

Another strong outing by goalie Pekka Rinne in front of a raucous crowd helps Nashville make the series a best-of-three.
Eden Prairie's Casey Mittelstadt.

Gophers recruit Mittelstadt gets a taste of the NHL life

After a trip to the NHL draft combine, the former Eden Prairie star has gotten a chance to hang out at the Stanley Cup, where he's trying not to act like too much of a fan.
Dino Ciccarelli, right, celebrated a goal with North Stars teammate Steve Payne in 1985. Four years earlier, Ciccarelli set the NHL rookie record for

Family aside, Guentzel's No. 1 fan is former North Stars great Ciccarelli

In 1981, Dino Ciccarelli scored a rookie record of 14 goals in the Stanley Cup. Guentzel, of Woodbury, is one behind the NHL Hall of Famer, who twice scored more than 50 goals in a season for the Stars.
Nashville Predators right wing Craig Smith (15) celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins with Filip Forsberg (9), of Sweden, during the thi

Nashville responds with 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh in Game 3

The Predators struck three times in the second period to take control in Game 3. Pittsburgh leads the series 2-1.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, left, battled Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis for position during Game 3 on Saturday night.

Penguins young and old benefit from Crosby's leadership

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said it wasn't a coincidence that the 22-year-old Jake Guentzel was placed to the left of Sidney Crosby in the Penguins' dressing room.
Nashville Predators fan Nick Olp swings a sledge hammer as he takes a turn beating up a car painted with Anaheim Ducks logos before Game 6 of the West

Smashville: Predators hockey is hot ticket in Music City

Fired-up fans ready for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final are as fluent in hockey as they are with Nashville's top-tier music.
Phil Housley is an assistant coach for the Nashville Predators, and wife Karin is a Minnesota state senator.

Power couple: Housleys make sports and politics mix

Phil and Karin Housley have ambitious agendas, be it in the National Hockey League or the Minnesota state senate.
Pittsburgh Penguins' Brian Dumoulin (8) and Carter Rowney (37) celebrate with Nick Bonino after Bonino's goal against the Nashville Predators during t

Penguins' AHL call-ups rising to the occasion in Stanley Cup playoffs

There's no doubt a number of Pittsburgh's key players were molded well in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., site of their AHL club.
The Penguins' Jake Guentzel, center, celebrated his goal against the Nashville Predators with Ian Cole, left, and Matt Cullen during the third period

Penguins stumble, snap back with Guentzel's winning goal in Game 1

After Pittsburgh lost an early 3-0 lead, the former Hill-Murray star came through to break a 3-3 tie late in the game.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to the media before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday in Pittsburgh.

NHL commissioner discussed offside review issues before Game 1 call

Almost as if he was clairvoyant, Gary Bettman got ahead of what looked like what might have ended up being the Stanley Cup Final opener's chief story line two hours before puck drop.
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist (72) and Sidney Crosby (87) will have a challenge solving goalie Pekka Rinne, left, and the Predators' brilliant corps

Stanley Cup Final will match Penguins' world-class offense against Predators' world-class defense

Talented back end takes on high-powered offense.
David Poile is the only general manager in Predators history.

Nashville's David Poile is dean of the NHL's general managers

At age 67, highly respected David Poile has a team in Stanley Cup Final for first time.
Russia's Kirill Kaprizov skated past Slovakia's Boris Sadecky in a world junior championship hockey game in Toronto on Dec. 31.

Wild not worried about losing Russian prospect Kirill Kaprizov

Chuck Fletcher doesn't believe the rumors that the former fifth-round pick will sign a long-term deal with CSKA Moscow.
Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau

'Bored' Boudreau still frustrated by Wild's playoff collapse

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau still believes the Wild is a legit Stanley Cup contender, all the more because he sees similarities between his team and finalist Nashville.
Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold.

Wild owner Leipold laments his team's failure: 'I'm not over it'

Craig Leipold said his team "crapped out" in its playoff loss to St. Louis, and now it's up to Wild management to dissect what happened and fix things to prepare for next season and beyond.
The Wild has significant restricted free agents to re-sign for the 2017-18 season, including Mikael Granlund (right) and Nino Niederreiter, and not a

With expansion draft looming, Wild preparing for offseason player changes

There's no way around it: the Wild will lose a quality player to the Vegas Golden Knights in expansion. The Wild also has significant restricted free agents to re-sign, including Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter.
Jake Guentzel scored a goal on his first NHL shot this season.

Playing with legends, Woodbury's Guentzel is Stanley Cup's top scorer

When he was younger, Hill-Murray grad Jake Guentzel was a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Now he's one of them. "It's amazing. You wake up and it's still a dream you get to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin."
Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, left, and coach Bruce Boudreau met with media members to wrap up the season and to look to the future T

Sidestepping negatives, Wild GM Fletcher cites 'remarkably consistent team'

In his season-ending remarks Tuesday, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher pointed to the teams regular-season improvement, not the speedy playoff exit vs. St. Louis.
Eric Staal wasn’t happy with his play vs. St. Louis. “I would have liked to have been better throughout the series,” he said.

Wild's Eric Staal feels fortunate after scary crash into the boards

Center improving after concussion, but he laments early playoff exit.
When Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, General Manager Chuck Fletcher and their staff sequester themselves to analyze what went wrong for a team that two mon

Wild's puzzling collapse begs for the reasons why

Another first-round exit leaves plenty of blame to go around.
Wild players Devan Dubnyk (40), Martin Hanzal (19) and Ryan Suter (20) -- with the puck from Magnus Paajarvi's series-clinching shot still in the net

Blues end Wild's season with series-clinching overtime goal

The Wild didn't go quietly Saturday afternoon, but few will remember the Wild's franchise-best regular season now that the team couldn't even get past Game 5 of the first round.
Wild defensemen Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon have limited the number of quality shots Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko has had at Wild goalie Devan Dubn

Wild, Blues are resigned to low-scoring series

Minnesota and St. Louis players are surprising even themselves with tenacity in limiting goals.
Center Mikko Koivu has been a top faceoff man during the Wild's series with St. Louis.

Cheating on the faceoff dot is delaying Wild-Blues games

Game 4 was slowed as centers, often the Wild's, drew calls.
Charlie Coyle celebrated after scoring for the Wild on Wednesday night in St. Louis. Associated Press photo by Jeff Roberson

Wild's Charlie Coyle steps up his game in playoffs

Wild's tough, talented winger ditched slump to be playoff force.
Martin Hanzal, left, battled the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz during the second period. Hanzal scored the Wild’s second goal.

Hanzal's 'been good,' says Wild coach Boudreau

Because of the Wild's 4-10-2 March and playoff lack of success, some still feel the arrival of Martin Hanzal and Ryan White messed up the Wild's chemistry. Coach Bruce Boudreau disputes that claim.
Blues goalie Jake Allen, right, won 11 of his last 15 regular-season starts with 26 goals allowed in that span. He's stopped 114 of 117 shots (.974 sa

Wild's frustration can be measured in big numbers, raw emotions

Statistical advantages are no comfort in a 3-0 hole.
St. Louis Blues' Alexander Steen, left, scores on an empty net as Minnesota Wild's Ryan Suter watches during the third period in Game 3.

'It's just not working.' Wild drops another close game to St. Louis

After a franchise-record 106 points, the Wild is three games into this postseason and has yet to figure out how to win a game against the St. Louis Blues or light up their stingy goalie.
The Wild’s Eric Staal came up empty on a wraparound, one of Minnesota’s better scoring opportunities against Blues goalie Jake Allen on Sunday in

Wild at a loss about lack of goals

The Wild, the second-highest-scoring team in the NHL during the regular season, a team that scored four or more goals 34 times and five or more 22 times, has scored three goals in three games and nearly 10 periods in the Western Conference quarterfinals with the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko, scoring against the Wild in March.

Notes: Matching up with Blues' Tarasenko more difficult in St. Louis

With Games 3 and 4 at home, Mike Yeo will have last line change and the opportunity to get Vladimir Tarasenko away from Wild coach Bruce Boudreau's desired matchup.
The Wild’s Mikael Granlund tried to regain his footing after some stickwork by St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, left, and pressure from Jaden Schwartz

Wild faces tough hill to climb down 2-0 to the Blues

Down 2-0 to the Blues, it won't be easy to come back. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only 18 teams in NHL history have rallied to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two at home.
Wild assistant coach Scott Stevens. Star Tribune photo by Anthony Souffle.

Ex-Devils Scott Stevens, Martin Brodeur do battle with Wild, Blues

Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens is Bruce Boudreau's chief lieutenant and Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur, one of St. Louis' assistant GMs, is the Blues' interim goalie coach.
Joel Edmundson (6) shot the puck past Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) for game goal in overtime. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ � cgonzalez@startribune.c

Shooting gallery: Tiebreaker a heartbreaker for Wild in overtime loss

Zach Parise's goal with 23 seconds left in regulation of Game 1 capped a frantic flurry of offense by the Wild. But the Blues' scored the game-winner just after midnight, following more than 17 minutes of overtime and 52 shots by the losers.
Vikings' Rudolph, Wild's Zucker bond over helping kids

Vikings' Rudolph, Wild's Zucker bond over helping kids

Kyle Rudolph and his wife, Jordan, have grown close with Jason Zucker and his wife, Carly, through the University of Minnesota's Masonic Children's Hospital.
The Wild's Erik Haula, right, scored a goal on a turnover by the Coyotes' Mike Smith on Saturday.

Wild's Haula could be key at wing against Blues

If the Wild plans on knocking off the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs, trying to figure out a way to shut down superstar Vladimir Tarasenko would be a start. Haula might be an option.