Big Gaborik news; Kolanos recalled sorta; Walzie checks in; Nolan skates; Bouchard on IR; Pouliot in doghouse; Gaborik interview in Slovakia’s Daily Pravda

Posted on October 17th, 2008 – 10:25 AM
By Michael Russo

How about that for a wordy headline?

The one thing I left out of the headline? My mother just called. She attended last night’s Wild-Panthers game and said, “You should write about that guy Koivu who has the brother in the league. He’s really good.”

I said, “OK, I will,” and she said, “See, you can learn stuff from me.”

And then I said, “OK, gotta go.”

Does my mom know talent, or what?

Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu (one goal, eight assists) is the first NHL player to record nine or more points in his team’s first three games of a season since Adam Oates did so for the Bruins in 1993-94 (4-5-9). Only five other players in NHL history had at least eight assists in their team’s first three games of a season: Chicago’s Pat Stapleton in 1968-69 (nine), the Penguins’ John Cullen and Kevin Stevens in 1990-91 (nine each), the Kings’ Marcel Dionne in 1979-80 (eight) and the Rangers’ Rod Gilbert in 1976-77 (eight). — Elias Sports Bureau

Center Krys Kolanos has been recalled from AHL Houston on an emergency recall because the Wild is short so many forwards (apparently that was Kolanos I spotted in the airport). This way, it can keep him here and it doesn’t affect his waiver timing. Pierre-Marc Bouchard (back) has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to before Tuesday’s game. He can come off at anytime.

OK, I made you wait long enough to hear my big Gaborik news. I noticed the last couple days he’s been wearing a Devils Rays hat. No, he hasn’t been traded there. Apparently, he and Andrew Brunette grabbed the Rays in the fifth round of the Wild’s baseball playoff pool, so he’s become a big fan. Gaborik, who admits he’s a little concerned about last night’s meltdown, points out, “I picked them, not Bruno.”

OK, so maybe it wasn’t big Gaborik news, but I bet you I just drove traffic to Russo’s Rants. :)

On a more serious note, Gaborik is definitely hurt. He is clearly limping and has some sort of problem with the area of his leg I mentioned in today’s paper. Players are not allowed anymore to talk about their injuries, so you’ll have to deal with a Gaborik quote on the Devil Rays rather than his health.

I told Lightning assistant coach Wes Walz that Gaborik is hurt, and he quipped, “Let me guess, lower body.” Bingo.

Walz checked in with his boys today, fake reffing the soccer hackysack/volleyball/tennis game by Koivu, Miettinen, Brunette, Burns, Veilleux and Belanger. All the guys were chirping him, and he said, “See, that’s what I miss right there.”

Owen Nolan skated this morning. He said he doesn’t know if he’ll play tomorrow and Lemaire said, “I don’t think so,” when I asked if he’d play. He’s got a leg problem.

Lemaire said he wants to play Kolanos tomorrow, but he said the guys have been working too hard to pull anybody out.

However, Benoit Pouliot, who scored a goal and an assist last night, is not in the coach’s favor. Lemaire won’t say a word as to why, but the facial expressions are unbelievable when we ask about him. Today, he ended “talking” about Pouliot by throwing his arms up in the air. At one point, Lemaire even pulled out a toothpick and started digging into his teeth. This is going to be a topic, and Lemaire admitted it’s probably just a matter of time before words accompany his facial expressions.

I asked if there was a chance Kolanos would officially be recalled and play for Pouliot, and Lemaire paused and said, “Not yet.” He stressed the word, “yet.”

Lemaire praised Tomas Mojzis’ feisty/offensive game from last night bigtime, and said he’ll probably get another chance against Tampa Bay. If Nolan is out, it should be the same lineup. If Nolan can play, it wouldn’t surprise me if Mojzis moved onto the blue line for Erik Reitz.

Lastly, Derek Boogaard wanted me to make clear he didn’t lose his tooth in the fight with Wade Belak. He lost his tooth in the scrum with Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard.

“I read your blog,” Boogaard jokingly barked.

Oh, I also threw the soccer ball back to Nik Backstrom today when he kicked it errantly in my direction. Problem is Backstrom turned his head. Smack.

“Don’t injure our goalie,” a laughing Kim Johnsson yelled at me.

Boy, that would not be an easy story to write if he did get hurt.

Thanks to hockey writer Peter Matijek, who sent me the translation of the Gaborik interview with Lubos Toth yesterday in Sunrise:

Minnesota’s biggest star stayed in the locker room on Thursday. An injury
kept Marian Gaborik off the Wild’s roster. What kind of injury, the club
would not reveal, nor did it permit Gaborik to tell.

Minnesota announced you were not going to play because of a lower body
injury. What does that mean?

   I can not comment on that, unfortunately.

Can you talk about when you are expected to return to ice?

   We are going to see. It is no serious injury, I hope it is going to be
soon.

The Wild have started well into the new season, even if a number of stars
have left the team. Are you happy (with the way the team is doing)?

   I have played only two games, this one was going to be the third. We
have won all three of them, that is a pretty good start. There is quite a
lot of new faces in the team, but I have felt very well on the ice so far.

Since the beginning of the season, the question if you are staying on the
team, has been dominating the news. What can you tell about that, as of
today?

   I am just trying to focus on hockey. How the things are going to happen,
we are just going to see. I am playing here, I obviously want to stay here,
and do not think about future for now.

Marian Hossa has opted to play for Detroit, even on a single year contract.
Is there any team in the league that you would have similiar sympathies
for?

   Just like I am saying – I would not really like to talk about it now.
There are thirty teams in the NHL, I am in Minnesota, I still have one year
of a contract here. I want to deliver here. I do not think about where I
could or would wind up if things would not work out here. I am trying to
put the things together here.

Which team appears to be a Stanley Cup favorite to you in the new year?

   The apparent pick is Detroit, but it is too early to tell how the season
is going to develop now. I hope we are going to be in the thick of things,
if we continue to play like this.

How often do you talk to your agent? Are you in regular contact now?

   We talk fairly often, now, when we are going to go to Tampa, we could
actually meet.

Do the regular questions about your future disturb you? Is it hard to
forget them?

   I am trying not to think of it and concentrate on hockey. Of course, it
is not possible not to think of it at all, but my priority is hockey.

Branko Radivojevic and Pavol Demitra have left. Who on the team is now your
closest pal?

   Martin Skoula and Andrew Brunette, I am close to these guys. I have
remained in contact with Branko, it appears he and his team are doing just
fine in the Russian League.

Could the KHL grow to be competition to the NHL?

   That is hard to assess for me, I have never played in Russia. In the
shortest term, I do not think it will be a competition, perhaps in the
future. But I still think the NHL is going to remain the best league in the
world.

Did players in America register the tragedy of the young Russian Alexei
Cherepanov?

   I have never experienced anything like that. A similar disaster,
however, happened to a former teammate of mine, Sergei Zholtoks in Riga. It
is a horrible tragedy, we all sympathize with the family and his friends.

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