By Michael Russo
Some potential news brewing here in Minnesota, and the first is, to quote the Seinfeld show, “not gonna be good for anybody.”
Marian Gaborik was the first one off the ice today. He ultimately admitted he feels “some discomfort” and added later after some further pressing by myself that ”If I would need to rest it, I’d definitely consider it. But I’m playing tonight and hopefully everything’s going to be good.”
Remember, the Wild plays tomorrow night in St. Louis. I asked Gaborik if he’s concerned about playing back-to-back, Gaborik said, “We’ll see how everything goes tonight.”
Here’s the thing though: Assistant coach Mario Tremblay, who subbed for Jacques Lemaire (more on that in a sec), said, “We’ll see Gabby’s situation tonight,” meaning there is a chance he doesn’t play.
Tremblay said all the players have been told to show up for the game and they’ll decide before the pregame meeting who’s playing. Eric Belanger is definitely out with an illness. Krys Kolanos, recalled, will play for him. Colton Gillies is in, Tremblay said, and if Gaborik can’t play, then Craig Weller will likely get the call.
Erik Reitz came off with the defensemen, but unless he’s playing forward, he’ll likely sit because Tremblay made clear Brent Burns is still a defenseman.
Regardless if Gaborik plays, this is terrible news for both Gaborik and the Wild for three reasons.
1) The team’s sliding fast as it sits 10th this morning.
2) Gaborik admitted he feels pressure to stay healthy and play at a high level so he can earn a big contract this summer.
3) The Wild needs Gaborik to stay healthy in order to trade him.
Clearly, Gaborik’s not healthy if he’s still feeling discomfort in his groins.
This situation’s not good.
On the other potential news, in the four seasons I’ve covered the team, we’ve never been told Lemaire is unavailable. Tremblay said he was in a “meeting,” and when midnight strikes tonight, a weeklong holiday roster freeze (meaning no trades) goes into effect.
Perhaps something’s cooking if, and I repeat, if that meeting was with GM Doug Risebrough, whom I’ve been told is unavailable to be interviewed by me until tonight because he’s got a busy day planned.
I can tell you that I was told yesterday by a league source that Risebrough was “frantically” working the phones trying to make an “impact move.”
We’ll see if anything comes of this. It’s not easy to make a trade in today’s NHL. Before last year’s deadline, there was only one legit trade made prior, and that was Anaheim’s Andy McDonald to St. Louis for Doug Weight.
And as we know, the Wild doesn’t pull the trigger on a lot of trades.
In other news, Kyle Okposo is indeed expected to play tonight against the Wild. Remember, last year at this time, Okposo left the Gophers to go to world junior and never returned because the Islanders signed him in the middle of the college season.
Good news if you’re a Gopher fan: Aaron Ness was expected to attend tonight’s game, but we’ve been told he’s no longer expected to show up as a “special guest” to the Islanders
Always exciting for this Long Island boy to see the Islanders. As I told you yesterday, I was a big fan as a kid. I remember always watching them on the road on SportsChannel with the great Jiggs McDonald on the call.
Speaking of on the call, Howie Rose is now the Isles’ TV play-by-play man. Howie Rose of the famed “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” call.
I always get a kick out of talking to Howie. Not to make him feel old, but when my dad used to take my brother and I to Mets games as a kid, we’d always sprint to the car after so we could listen to Howie Rose’s postgame report.