Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Fillers

  • Sorry for the infrequency of posts this week. However, there's not much going on. The NBA and NHL drafts are over. NHL free agency opened last week and after an initial frenzy, it has quieted down considerably. The Wolves haven't signed anyone. I could add absolutely nothing on the Brett Favre situation. I write about the Twins for, so writing here on the same subject would be repetitive. So, we'll empty the notebook once a week for the time being until things start heating up in late August or early September. Unless, of course, something worthwhile happens during the week. Thanks for the patience.
  • Saku Koivu spurned the Wild on Wednesday and signed a one-year deal with the Ducks. The release from Anaheim does not provide financial terms, but Michael Russo of the Strib reports that it's a one-year, $3.25M deal. Also in the Russo piece, it is reported that Koivu's offer from the Wild was for either 2 years, $4M per or 3 years, $3M per. Simply put, he turned down more years and more money not to play for the Wild. Don't bag on Koivu, however. He simply wanted to play with his close friend, Teemu Selanne, in Anaheim. Selanne has already stated the upcoming season will be his final one in the NHL, and this would be Koivu's final chance to play with Selanne in the NHL. Plus, and perhaps the biggest reason why he took the Anaheim deal, Koivu wanted to let brother Mikko blaze his own trail in Minnesota outside of his shadow. Koivu is now the Wild's most recognizable player and is a likely captain next season. Saku did not want to step on Mikko's toes, despite the fact Mikko was totally behind his brother playing here. Read the end of Russo's entry for some quotes from Saku Koivu about his not signing with the Wild.
  • From a hockey standpoint, it puts the Wild in a tough spot if they do nothing else. Saku Koivu would have been a legitimate #2 center for this team. As Russo suggests, internal options are James Sheppard, Benoit Pouliot, or Eric Belanger. New coach Todd Richards suggested perhaps looking at Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the middle. Free agent options are listed here, but do you see any #2 centers on this list? I don't. The Wild has the money to spend, but they'll likely use it carefully.
  • Kurtis Foster and Stephane Vellieux also left the Wild this week, both signing with Tampa Bay. These losses shouldn't hurt the Wild too much this upcoming season. Vellieux was a checker, and the market is full of possible replacements, as it is sure to shift to a buyers' market soon. Foster is still recovering from the broken femur suffered in March 2008 and wasn't among the Wild's top-seven defensemen, especially after the signing of Shane Hnidy and Greg Zanon.
  • The Wild also hired Chris Pietrzak-Wegner as its new strength and conditioning coach. Full disclosure: he's my cousin. He's also an all-around good guy, and is respected everywhere he has been. At the professional level, he's been with the Milwaukee Admirals and Wilkes Barre-Scranton Pengiuns, and worked with Todd Richards in both places. He was the person most responsible for my fandom of the New York Islanders and of hard rock music - especially Dio.
  • As I mentioned previously, I now cover the WCHA for the Examiner in addition to my Twins coverage. All is quiet around the league right now, so my focus will be on developmental camps held by NHL teams and featuring WCHA players, but admittedly, I won't have much beyond that for the time being. In about six weeks, however, we'll start up the team-by-team previews. Management at the Examiner is skeptical about this site taking off, so please read often.
  • I'll continue to focus on Gopher Hockey on DP, so that will not change - unlike the Twins' Examiner bit.
  • Speaking of Gopher Hockey, Roman reports the Gophers will have co-captains for the first time since 2001-02, as Ryan Flynn and Tony Lucia were named captains for the 2009-10 season. Flynn's a natural leader who had an 'A' last season, and Lucia leads by example on the ice, so naming both seniors as captains for next season is a no-brainer.
  • Over in Minneapolis, the Wolves' summer league team is listed here. No news on the Ricky Rubio front yet, nor do the Wolves have a coach. Basketball boss David Kahn has said the Wolves will be a "late player" in the free agent signing period, which is not surprising. The Puppies have $20M coming off the books after this season and do not seem likely to add payroll to the roster. 2009-10 will be a tough year for the Wolves, either with or without Rubio. However, with $20M coming off, three first round picks in the 2010 draft, and some young talent, it's easier to see the clearing in the forest. It will take time, however.
  • Today's Michael Jackson installment is here, in an under-rated song you don't hear much anymore -- with a big assist from a couple of "Guitars for Hire."

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