Category Archives: Injuries

Koivu On IR; Taffe Recalled

The Wild has placed captain Mikko Koivu on the Injured Reserve. The Wild was hopeful for Koivu’s return tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, but will have to wait until after the Christmas break.

With the open roster spot, Minnesota recalled forward Jeff Taffe from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League (AHL).

In two games with the Wild this season, Taffe had two assists and was plus-3 .  The Hastings native ranks second on the Aeros in scoring with 21 points (5-16=21) in 27 games and leads the team with 74 shots.

Taffe has collected 46 points (21-25=46) and 40 penalty minutes (PIM) in 177 career NHL games with Phoenix, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Florida, Chicago and Minnesota.

Clutterbuck To Sit Out Preseason Finale

The preseason finale is finally upon us, and after tonight’s showdown with the Edmonton Oilers…we have to sit and wait for a week. But that’s not all bad, because the Wild is still trying to get some guys healthy before the season starts on October 8.

Cal Clutterbuck is the latest player to go on the shelf. He’s been dealing with a tweaked groin, so Mike Yeo will keep him out of the lineup tonight as a precaution, saying he’s seen everything he needs to see from Clutter.

Mike Lundin (back), Matt Cullen (upper body) and Jared Spurgeon (rib) all remain out of the lineup, but Yeo again seemed confident that most or all would be ready for game one.

One interesting note from today’s Yeo media scrum was the update on Matt Kassian, who is also coming off an injury. Yeo said he is progressing and hopes to have him ready for the first game. Does this mean Kassian is on the opening night roster with the suspension to Brad Staubitz? We’ll see, but it does seem to be something Yeo is considering.

He also said roster decisions are expected to be made tonight after the game. Whether or not we’ll get cutdown information then remains to be seen. With the injuries, it’s possible guys get cut and then brought up before the season if someone is not ready to go.

One other note about tonight’s game: Marie-Pier Guilbault, who is currently performing in Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse, will sing O Canada in French prior to tonight’s game.

Don’t forget, you can see tonight’s game on Wild.com via live streaming.

Staubitz Suspension Begins Tonight

The ruling was passed down from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan yesterday that Wild winger Brad Staubitz will be suspended for the rest of the preseason, as well as the first three games of the regular season.

At least publicly, the Wild hasn’t cried foul about the ruling, and Staubitz said yesterday, “I want what’s fair.” Thus far in his new role, Shanahan has been strict, but consistent in his dealings with dangerous hits. He also suspended James Wisniewski for eight regular season games for his blow to the head of Cal Clutterbuck on Friday night.

In past years, there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the suspensions handed out, and there seemed to be preferential treatment given to certain players over others. Shanahan has been proactive, not only with being strict, but with his video descriptions of each incident. If teams and fans get the straight dope on why a suspension is what it is, that’s all we can really ask.

It remains to be seen if Steven Stamkos or Alex Ovechkin were to drill a player with a dangerous head shot, but so far, it’s hard to argue with Shanahan’s methods.

As for the Wild and their preseason home game tonight against the Blues, you’ll see most of the regulars out on the ice tonight. Matt Cullen, who was hit headfirst into the boards on Saturday by Pittsburgh’s Eric Tangradi, will sit out as a precaution. Casey Wellman will take his spot. Staubitz will be replaced on the fourth line by Brett Bulmer, who is still vying for a spot on the roster.

On defense, Jared Spurgeon is dealing with a bruised rib, and Mike Lundin continues to suffer from back spasms. Justin Falk and Marco Scandella will take their spots in the lineup. Nick Schultz will make his preseason debut tonight.

Niklas Backstrom gets the start in goal. Josh Harding likely starts on Thursday in Columbus and Backstrom would get the preseason finale on Friday against Edmonton.

Meanwhile, all the players the Wild put on waivers on Sunday have cleared, meaning they’ll report to Houston Aeros camp. That includes Warren Peters, Jed Ortmeyer, Jon DiSalvatore, Jeff Taffe, Jeff Penner and Dennis Endras.

And finally, Wild prospect and Denver University sophomore Jason Zucker was picked as the preseason WCHA player of the year in the 94X media poll, released today. Zucker’s team, Denver, was picked to finish first in the League, which you may know is also the home of the defending national champs in Duluth.

Frozen Four Fever; Injury Updates

The Minnesota Wild held their Tuesday morning practice at Xcel Energy Center today, but it didn’t exactly feel like home in there. To get ready for the Frozen Four, every advertisement has been removed from the boards. There’s not a Wild logo to be found in the entire arena bowl.

The college kids are coming in starting today, and following tomorrow morning’s practice, the Wild will hand over the keys to the NCAA. I heard a rumor that the UMD Bulldogs are one of the teams that will be at the tournament this weekend. Isn’t that nice?

What will be most interesting will be to see if any of the four participating teams have a higher shooting percentage than those basketball teams that played last night in Houston.

Several of the Wild coaches have a rooting interest in this weekend’s activities. Goaltending coach Bob Mason is a former Bulldog, while Assistant Coach Rick Wilson is a former North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Head Coach Todd Richards is a former Gopher, but he made it clear he will not be pulling for UND this weekend.

Eric Nystrom will be pulling for his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Nystrom played in two Frozen Fours, including his freshman season in 2002 when the Wolverines fell to the Gophers in the semifinals.

The one and only Kevin Falness, who will be filling in for Bob Kurtz on the play-by-play duties for the next two Wild games, spoke to several of the key players for this weekend’s games. The Connolly brothers from different mothers of UMD can be heard here. Wild prospect Sean Lorenz, who will face UMD as a member of Notre Dame, can be heard here. Legendary Michigan head coach Red Berenson can be heard here. And while I’m pretty sure there aren’t any UND fans out there, just for kicks, I’ll put Kevin’s interview with Chay Genoway on here.

As for the Wild, there were a lot of bodies missing today due to injuries. Martin Havlat (upper body), Cal Clutterbuck (upper body), Jose Theodore (lower body), Cam Barker (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse (abdominal), Marek Zidlicky (lower body), Nick Schultz (concussion) and John Madden (lower body) were all sitting out.

Josh Harding was the other goalie on the ice, but Richards said not to expect him to play this season. Hear what the Head Coach told the media after today’s practice here.

That’s about it for the on-ice news. There is expected to be some off-ice news later this afternoon regarding a Wild business-related announcement. Stay tuned to Wild.com for those details.

Wild Smiles; Blueline Questions

4 p.m. Update: The Wild has indeed made a call to Houston, recalling defensemen Justin Falk and Maxim Noreau from the Aeros.

TGIF, Wild fans! Fridays are always fun, but even more so after a Wild victory.

I know I’ve spent the past few days talking about how the Wild’s barely celebrated the end of its winless streak, but the scene in the locker room today was a lot more fun. Kyle Brodziak and James Sheppard deserve gold stars for their turns at running the locker room iPod. I want to leave most of the details in the room, so I’ll just say some stellar 80′s and 90′s hits caused plenty of jokes and fun. It was great to see the guys smiling and enjoying themselves because they deserve to let off a little steam with two straight wins after such a stressful and difficult stretch which must have tested their pride.

Not much news was expected out of the Wild’s short practice at Xcel Energy Center late this morning but unfortunately, there was plenty of not-so-good surprises. Marek Zidlicky and Nick Schultz both missed the skate with injuries and Head Coach Todd Richards said afterward that they are questionable for tomorrow’s game. Cam Barker continued to practice with the team but will again be questionable to get back into the lineup. Making matters worse, Brent Burns left the ice and is now questionable for tomorrow’s game after a very innocent-looking and weird play in practice.

In a simple drill where players line up, take a pass mid-ice and go in to shoot, Burns seemed to lose his footing all alone at center ice, with one of his skates slipping out underneath him. It looked like absolutely nothing until Burns remained down on ice, stretching out his leg before skating to the bench and walking down the runway with a look of pain on his face. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, unless Todd Richards was in on it, too, saying Burns is now a question mark for tomorrow.

With four defensemen questionable for tomorrow’s early afternoon game, the Wild is likely to recall a few blueliners from Houston. Richards said Backstrom will start against the Lightning, who clinched a playoff spot with a win against Pittsburgh yesterday, and Theodore will get the nod in Detroit Sunday. A sidenote: did you see Backs’ awesome toe save last night? You’ll want to watch it over and over.

Listen to Richards’ comments after practice in today’s Minnesota Wild PONDcast.

With tomorrow’s game six hours earlier than the typical contest, I asked Matt Cullen and Jared Spurgeon about how the change will impact their day. A 1 p.m. start means the usual morning skate won’t be an option for the players. Cullen said his day will just start earlier than normal, that he’ll stick to the same schedule and just push everything up. Cullen said he’ll get up early, try to get outside and get his body moving and will probably end up having an extra cup of coffee.

On the other hand, Jared Spurgeon plans to sleep in and try to eat as big a breakfast as possible since he won’t be having two meals before the game. However, both players were on the same page when it came to their plans for the rink.  To those two at least, it doesn’t matter when the game starts, they’ll just back track from the time of puck drop and do their typical tasks in the arena, getting to the Xcel Energy Center with the same amount of time to prepare as usual.

Glen will be back from Florida and is planning on making his return to live,  in-game commentary tomorrow, so you can count on a high level of wit returning to wild.com. No jokin’.

Have a great Friday afternoon!

Wellman Recalled; Viewing Party Tonight

Happy Tuesday and Wild gameday, State of Hockey! It’s a busy day down here at Wild HQ, but here’s a quick blog for your afternoon enjoyment.

After talking with Head Coach Todd Richards at yesterday’s practice, it didn’t seem there would be any news to report from today’s morning skate in St. Louis. Richards said Mikko Koivu and Chuck Kobasew missed the practice for “maintenance” but that both would be in the lineup against the Blues. However, Kobasew’s leg injury is apparently still bothering him as the Wild recalled Casey Wellman from Houston late this morning to take Kobasew’s spot in the lineup for tonight’s contest in St. Louis.

As the Wild desperately searches to find it’s offensive stride, it should be interesting to watch Wellman’s impact on the lineup. In his most recent recall earlier this month, he played two games, scoring one goal and averaging 9:02 TOI. Wellman is slotted to start the night on the left side of Matt Cullen and Marty Havlat, but as Richards stated yesterday, he is likely to change things up throughout the night in search of some offensive chances. Also, Jose Theodore will get the start in net tonight.

Last, but certainly not least, remember to come out to the Wild Interactive Viewing Party tonight at the Mall of America rotunda. The fun starts at 6 p.m. and will include autographs from Wes Walz, games and cool gadgets from Best Buy and SONY, plus lots of great giveaways including a game-worn Bouchard jersey, video game systems, Wild tickets and much more. Click here for all of the details of tonight’s event. Perhaps the biggest draw of the night is the chance to watch me type like a madwoman as I write the live, in-game commentary of tonight’s game from the party. I hope someone told the MOA to put up some extra crowd-control barriers to handle the huge number of wild.com fans that are sure to show up…

Wild Preps For St. Louis; Viewing Party Tuesday

Good afternoon, State of Hockey Legion! Hope your work weeks are off to a great start. Mine is a little busier than normal since Glen is spending the week with his family in sunny Florida, but no worries wild.com superfans (and I know there a million of you), I’ve got his back.

The Wild had an upbeat practice that lasted about 45 minutes at Xcel Energy Center this morning before departing for St. Louis. Both Mikko Koivu and Chuck Kobasew missed practice, but Head Coach Todd Richards said it was just a maintenance day for each of them and both should be back in the lineup tomorrow night against the Blues. Cam Barker and James Sheppard also took part in practice, but neither will travel to tomorrow’s game, nor will any of the other injured players.

An interesting side note from today’s skate was that much of the team was sporting the clean shaven look. I wasn’t at yesterday’s Wild practice, so I don’t know when exactly the razors came out, but I definitely noticed the lack of facial hair around the locker room today. I counted at least five guys that had trimmed nearly everything off, and I’m sad to say that includes Kyle Brodziak, who had been rocking his Movember stache for the last four months. Brodziak said he just decided to change it up but that it will probably reappear at some point. Farewell, Brodzstache. You made all of your fellow Movember dusters proud.

Onto the business on the ice, it was a fairly typical practice for the Wild, minus some line shuffling to adjust for the absence of Koivu and Kobasew. Richards did say after practice that he will start tomorrow’s game with different lines in hopes to get some productivity and chances in the offensive zone. That means the second and third lines should be shifted around, with Havlat possibly lining up with Cullen and Kobasew like yesterday’s practice. Jose Theodore will start in net tomorrow against the Blues.

In case you missed it, radio play-by-play man Bob Kurtz missed his first Wild game – ever – Saturday night because he was sidelined with a bad sinus infection. Kurtz had previously called all 912 Wild games – including preseason and playoff games – which in itself is an amazing stat. Kurtz is still under the weather so Kevin Falness will once again fill in for him. Feel better, Bob! Listen to Falness’ practice update in today’s PONDcast.

Finally, don’t forget to come join me, other Wild staff members and fans at the Wild Interactive Viewing Party tomorrow night at the Mall of America. Former Wild great Wes Walz will be on hand to sign autographs and there will be a ton of great giveaways including a game-worn Bouchard jersey, video game systems, Wild tickets and much more. Of course, we’ll have the Wild-Blues game on the big screen but the party starts at 6 p.m. so stop by. Get all the details here.