Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Minnesota Wild,
On the day the Minnesota Wild will shake up its line combinations, the club also will shake up its roster.
The Wild has acquired left wing Mike Rupp from the New York Rangers in exchange for forwards Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
"We went into this season counting on him to score goals and create offense for us and to use his speed and to be strong on pucks," Yeo said. "He's not the only one. There's some other people that aren't performing probably to the level we need them to. So this is the decision we take going into [Monday's] game, and we'll be ready to make new ones again after that."
Setoguchi, the subject of trade rumors, knows he has to be better.
"Personally, I'm disappointed," he said. "If you're not contributing, it's disappointing. Collectively we need more from other than the top guys. That's my job personally and it's a couple other guys' jobs. We need to be better."
On landing on the fourth line, Setoguchi said: "It's frustrating, but you can't really sit and sulk about it and dwell on it. ... If I'm in, I'm in. If not, then I try to get back in the lineup."
Asked if he is concerned about Setoguchi's play, General Manager Chuck Fletcher said: "We need to get a lot more out of our second and third lines. We need more scoring chances, more shots and more offense from a few of them. It's early yet, but it'll become late quickly here if we don't get going. The next step is to shift the lines a bit, mix the personnel and see if that ignites some players."
more on the Wild...
from Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune,
Suter looks like a guy still learning a new system and how to play with new teammates. He's not paired with fellow stud defenseman Shea Weber in Nashville anymore. Now he's surrounded by younger, more unproven players on the blue line, and chemistry doesn't form overnight or in one week of training camp.
That unfamiliarity can breed uncertainty, which leads to trouble like what happened Sunday night. Suter stood in the defensive zone as St. Louis' Chris Stewart got behind him and parked in front of goalie Niklas Backstrom for a deflection that tied the score in the third period. In overtime, Vladimir Sobotka fought off Suter in front of the goal for the winner. Those are plays Suter should make.
Yeo countered that fans and media should focus as much attention on the good plays Suter makes as well. And he doesn't buy the notion that Suter might be feeling the weight of his contract and expectations.
"I don't think he's having difficulty with the pressure," Yeo said. "I think the pressure comes from himself. Probably the more you have to answer about it, the more that compounds. I'm just focused on where his game is getting to and every game I see what he brings to our group. I know one thing, I'm very happy he's on our team."
Nobody's arguing that, but people just want to see more.
via a release from the Minnesota Wild,
Saturday’s Minnesota Wild game was the highest-rated regular season Wild telecast ever on FOX Sports North. The Wild’s 4-2 win vs. Colorado generated a 7.65 household rating in the Minneapolis – St. Paul DMA, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That easily tops the previous regular season high of 4.6 set Dec. 13, 2011 vs. the Jets.
Sunday’s match-up against the Stars also broke that previous record, generating a 5.35 rating.
In the Minneapolis - St. Paul market, 17,280 households represent one rating point. That means over 132,100 households tuned in for the Minnesota Wild’s season and home opener on Hockey Day Minnesota.
from Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated,
Sure, hockey-crazed Minnesota has yearned for a successful team in the NHL, but a winning Wild would also be just as good for the league as it tries to recover from the long lockout that bruised its image. While Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles have won the last three Stanley Cup titles, Minnesota is hockey's answer to Green Bay, a smaller but vital market with enthusiasm that far exceeds raw numbers.
"It would mean a lot to the NHL and the game if we won our first Cup here," says forward Zach Parise. "If you judge hockey markets by how much it matters to people, Minnesota is as strong as any market in Canada."
Before the lockout took hold, the Wild had made hockey's biggest offseason splash by signing Parise, the Devils' captain last season, and Predators defenseman Ryan Suter to belt-busting (and identical) 13-year, $98 million free agent contracts. Both players are skilled and savvy, former All-Stars and U.S. Olympic teammates with ties to the region. Parise's dad, J.P., played a total of nine years for the NHL's old Minnesota North Stars, later became an assistant coach for the team, and still lives in the area. Suter, one of the game's best two-way defensemen, grew up in neighboring Wisconsin and often visited the Twin Cities for summer tournaments.
"When you'd see families obsessed with the game in the middle of July," says Suter, "you knew there was no place for hockey like Minnesota."
from Michael Russo of the StarTribune,
Josh Harding has been a member of the Wild for nearly 11 years. But since revealing in November that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the goaltender feels this season is like "a tryout."
He's trying to prove to himself, the club and everybody else that he can "still do what I've been doing all my life."
Sunday night against the Dallas Stars, Harding overcame the butterflies and the self-doubt and aced that initial test during an uplifting 1-0 blanking.
from Michale Ruso of the Star Tribune,
Parise and Suter will slip on Iron Range-red jerseys for the first time and make their Wild debuts against Colorado on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center, in a fitting end to Hockey Day Minnesota.
"It's been a long time of nothing since all that excitement, and now that we're finally here, it's kind of surreal," said Suter. "I just got goose bumps thinking about walking down that tunnel.
"This is where we can hopefully spend the rest of our careers and have a lot of success. It's the first of many games. Finally."
Thanks to the addition of Parise and Suter, there have been grandiose predictions.
from Katie Strang of ESPN NewYork,
"I spent the last four or five years as a captain for Columbus. My game and my character improved a lot from that," Nash said. "Coming into a team that already had success here, I think it's the perfect time for me to jump in and help out in any way I can."
Unfortunately for Nash, the excitement in beginning anew with the Blueshirts was stalled by a long, bitter lockout that lasted four months. Instead of making his grand Rangers debut in October, Nash shipped off to Switzerland as he awaited the labor standoff to end.
Not an easy task for a player eager to acclimate to his new surroundings.
"He's so anxious. He really wanted to play. I feel bad for him that way. Even moreso than everybody else," teammate Brad Richards told ESPNNewYork.com. "It's a big opportunity for him, and he knows it."
from Michale Russo of the StarTribune,
Just mention Zenon Konopka's name to Stephane Veilleux, and the red-headed Wild forward chuckles and rolls his eyes.
"He's a very, very funny, very different character," said Veilleux, Konopka's roommate three seasons ago in Tampa Bay.
Konopka is the Wild's fascinating new enforcer and fourth-line center. He is on his 14th team in 11 years as a pro, and there's a reason he instantly becomes popular with teammates and fans at every stop.
He has a pet rabbit named Hoppy. He's an entrepreneur who owns a piece of seven businesses, including his own wine label, ZK28. He's the ringleader for most team activities. He is not only one of the NHL's toughest fighters, but he is a dynamite penalty killer and a faceoff specialist.
And he admittedly loves to push the line as far as he can take it, whether it's a faceoff strategy that actually resulted in a rule change across the NHL this season, or a pregame antic during warmups.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Sitting on a white leather couch in the living room of his Edina home, Josh Harding doesn't get emotional as he tells his story.
He looks completely healthy. He doesn't seem scared. He speaks so confidently, so courageously, you'd never know his life has been altered forever.
"I don't look at this like I've got to take a new path," said Harding, drafted 10 years ago by the Wild and months off signing a new three-year contract. "This is a little bump in the road. I've had lots in life."
Harding, 28, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an incurable autoimmune disease in which the body randomly attacks and eats away the protective lining of his nerves and causes them to scar. It causes problems with balance, fatigue and blurred vision. There are 25,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States every year.
"I had a couple days where I felt bad for myself, but no more," said Harding, who plans on continuing his career. "There's things in life that happen. Sometimes you can't explain it. You deal with it."
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Two days ago at the "Champs for Charity" game in Chicago, Ryan Suter talked with Craig Custance from ESPN the Magazine and took some swipes at the owners, including Wild owner Craig Leipold....
In the story, Suter questioned whether Leipold negotiated the 13-year, $98 million contracts given to he and Zach Parise in good faith (in other words, knowing that the NHL would be asking for a rollback in the next collective bargaining agreement....
Tonight, prior to the Defending the Blue Line charity game here at Mariucci, I interviewed Suter. He said after thinking about the things he said, he wanted to make clear he doesn't think Leipold negotiated the contracts in bad faith and that he's just frustrated because he wants to be playing.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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