By Brian Stensaas

We interrupt Vonn Watch 2010 for a quick Wild update here on Russo's Rants.

The Wild this morning sent Robbie Earl back to AHL Houston and called up Cody Almond. This is Almond's first NHL callup and there is a chance he cracks the lineup tomorrow night against Atlanta, coach Todd Richards said.

"It's something we'll look at, yeah," he said.

Almond, 20, has played well with Houston lately, scoring four goals and six assists in the Aeros last nine games. He was the Wild's fifth-round draft pick (140th overall) in 2007.

"I'm excited to see what he can do," Richards said. "He's a big kid. He's done well down there."

As for Earl, Richards said his game "has slipped a little."

"You want to reward guys that have done the job in Houston and this is a chance for Cody," he said.

 Practice was done in a crisp 35 minutes today, but it didn't start well. Richards had to get the guys going a little bit, asking at one point if they were ready to go or if they were sleeping.

"Some of the guys weren't ready to practice," Richards told the media. "Their minds weren't there. Physically they were there, mentally they weren't."

So did he get their attention?

"The guys that I needed to get their attention, they snapped up," Richards said,

Niklas Backstrom wore his powder-blue Finland leg pads for the first time today in practice. Mikko Koivu wore his blue gloves for a short stretch, too, and they must have felt fine. After a flexed them a little bit, he tossed each into a corner of the equipment room, presumably to get packed up for the trip to Vancouver on Sunday night.

That's really about it, other than most of the players and a few staffers really getting a kick out of their noontime entertainment today. A local TV station featured Wild PR guy Ryan Stanzel and his new bride on a "Love Stories" segment during the midday news. You should have heard the howls from the player's lounge as they watched the lovey-dovey pictures flash on the screen and listened to the interviews - with Stanzel right there I should add. Priceless.

Kim Johnsson walked out shortly after with a huge smile on his face.

"Oh - thanks for that," he said.

Wild back at it tomorrow against the Thrashers. Check for updates in the early afternoon after both teams get in their morning skate.

Now, back to the Olympics.