Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune,
Last March 19, Kurtis Foster’s left femur snapped in half. Three people told Foster it was “the worst break they’ve ever seen in a person’s leg.”
Many people privately were skeptical he would ever play again. He still walks with a limp.
Yet here we are, a little more than nine months later, and the Wild defenseman is close to reporting to Houston for a conditioning stint….
Despite coming so far, Foster believes he is being rushed back by the NHL.
According to Section 13.8 of the collective bargaining agreement, teams are not permitted to send players to the minors on “conditioning loans” for longer than “14 consecutive days.”
Upon Foster’s request, the Wild begged the league to make an exception. The team offered up Foster’s medical records. The team offered to fly Foster to New York to be examined by NHL doctors.
Yet, the league refused to make an exception. If Foster is in Houston one second longer than two weeks, he will have to clear waivers.
from John Shipley of the Pioneer Press (Thursday edition),
Dwayne Roloson is no stranger to the expiring contract. He is playing with one now, just as he did with the Minnesota Wild in 2005-06.
It’s not easy.
“But in that situation,” he said, “you’ve got to block it out the best you can.”
Roloson likely will be in net tonight when the Edmonton Oilers take on the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. His counterpart will be Niklas Backstrom, who is looking more and more like 2009’s most eligible goaltender….
There’s no doubt Backstrom is the Wild’s top goaltender, yet it appears he’ll play in the Jan. 25 All-Star Game with a contract set to expire in July. Not only has general manager Doug Risebrough declined to discuss his contract situation, he also has declined to even say the Wild want him back.
from Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune,
Other than Owen Nolan, it’s now the Wild’s minute-munching forwards who are offering no offense.
Mikko Koivu has one goal and seven assists in the past 15 games. Andrew Brunette has one goal and three assists in the past 16. Pierre-Marc Bouchard has two goals and six assists in the past 17. Eric Belanger has one goal and four assists in his past 15. Antti Miettinen has one goal and two assists in the past 13.
It’s no wonder that in the Wild’s past 16 games, it has scored 27 goals (1.68 a game). In the 30-team NHL, it ranks 29th with 2.38 goals per game.
“The top guys, sometimes they do [squeeze their sticks], but other times—a lot of times—it’s execution that has to be better,” coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We’ve got to work on execution—hitting the net or feeding the right guy so we can get that goal.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Finally, Dan Boyle got his due.
The 11-year NHL veteran, among the league’s top defensemen for at least half that time, was selected to play in the All-Star Game for the first time.
“You know what, I had been in this situation before, where I had a good start to the season but didn’t go, so I wasn’t thinking about it too much, to be very honest with you,” Boyle told ESPN.com. “But when I found out, it is a bonus. It’s not a goal I set every year. I’ve got bigger and more important things on my mind.
“But it’s only human nature to feel good about it. It’s nice to get recognized.”
continued plus a ldiscussion with Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild..
from Patrick Reusse of the Star-Tribune,
They are the smartest guys in the room and if you gave them a choice between losing money and losing a player, the members of the Wild brain trust would go for losing the player every time.
Thus, there might be a tinge of front office disappointment that the Wild will be losing the most dynamic player in franchise history and get nothing in return, but you can be assured that Doug Risebrough and his minions will spend much time congratulating themselves for not committing to a long-term contract for many millions to Marian Gaborik….
The best bet today is Gaborik has played his last game for the Wild. He’ll hit the market this summer with two surgically repaired hips, sign a one-year contract with a contending team—such as Marian Hossa did with Detroit—and re-establish himself as a star.
The Wild? Lemaire will get his lads to play even more defense and keep his team on the cusp of playoff contention over the next two months. Then, as the March 4 trade deadline approaches and other teams yield prospects for reinforcements, Risebrough will strike.
A year ago, the acquisition was Chris Simon, a misunderstood gentleman now trying to start World War III in the Russian league. The prediction here is that this is the move Risebrough has on his hip, so to speak:
He’s going to bring in at the cost of nothing another misunderstood chap—Sean Avery.
via Russo’s Rants,
Marian Gaborik is scheduled to have surgery on his left hip on Monday in Vail, Colo.
The surgery will address a deficiency in his hip that has caused chronic left groin pain. The surgeon has apprised the team that a return to play from this surgery is as soon as ten weeks, with the player able to begin skating after six weeks.
That’ll take it past the March 4 trade deadline obviously.
from John Shipley of the Pioneer Press,
Marian Gaborik has a hip deficiency that is causing his groin problems and is contemplating surgery that would all but end his season, and perhaps his tenure with the Minnesota Wild.
Assistant general manager Tom Lynn said Thursday the decision likely will be made within the next two to three days.
“It’s something you can manage, or you can have surgery,” Lynn said.
That should put to an end all of those made-up rumors that Gaborik is about to be traded.
added 5:46pm, from Russo’s Rants,
This is catastrophic, and I’m not talking about what this does to the team this season.
The Wild likely would have an untradeable asset, one that would likely walk at the end of the season. From Gaborik’s perspective, there is no chance he’d command anything close to around the $8 million a year the Wild offered him at the start of the season….
I talked to Doug Risebrough this morning, and the reason I got real suspicious to pursue this story? When I asked if he was worried Gaborik woudn’t play again this season, Risebrough basically said yes. When I told him I had heard it was recommended Gaborik have season-ending surgery, he said, “I’m not commenting.
from Russo’s Rants,
Speaking of not being 100 percent, Gaborik did not skate this morning even though the team updated us yesterday that he was supposed to skate. Via a spokesman, Tom Lynn said today, “it was decided he needed to get a good skate without pain before a move into full practice.”
After today’s ”feeling out” skate, Lynn said the team decided to hold him out. Translation: He’s hurting again, meaning uh-oh….
Back to Gaborik, he has often told us he doesn’t want to play unless he’s 100 percent. The team is freefalling. I’m pretty sure not all Wild players are playing at 100 percent. I asked Jacques Lemaire if he had a problem with having a player not willing to play at 100 percent, and he said, “Well, Nolan is not 100 percent and he asked me to play tonight. And I know he’s not 100 percent because he only had that little practice today.”
Pretty big indictment, although Lemaire later said when pressed further, “I don’t know how the guy feels … physically,” so give him the benefit of the doubt, essentially.
from the Star-Tribune,
If the “Team of 18,000” is actually a brainwashed “Cult of 18,000,” well, the normally trusting followers are beginning to revolt.
It’s not only the anonymous bloggers, talk-show callers, message-board fanatics and newspaper e-mailers who have a growing frustration toward the Wild.
If the Wild brass actually believes that—and it appears to—it needs to leave its press-box throne and actually tip-toe—and I stress, tip-toe—through the stands.
The paying customers are ticked beyond imagination with the state of the Wild.
from Russo’s Rants,
After tonight’s game, assistant GM Tom Lynn announced that the Wild will hold out Marian Gaborik Sunday vs. Chicago and Monday vs. Calgary.
“Marian’s going to take the Christmas break off and it looks like we’re not going to play him in the two games back-to-back. We’re doing this, not him,” Lynn said. “When he played back-to-back the other day, he got very sore. We were thinking of playing him in one game and not the other, but [GM] Doug [Risebrough] made the decision that he’s going to make [Gaborik] rest for four days and hold him out. Hopefully he’ll be back full-time after that.”
This does seem awfully suspicious.
First of all, the Wild is clinging to eighth in the West. To sit its best scorer in back-to-back games against two quality teams seems a little strange.
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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