Nolan: “I’m here to play”; Brunette to play; Inconsistency between Gaborik and Wild; Moreau to make “full recovery”; Trade deadline stuff; Burns can’t bowl

Posted on March 2nd, 2009 – 6:34 PM
By Michael Russo

Jam-packed blog today. 

– Owen Nolan hopped on a 9 a.m. flight out of Minny this morning and came right to GM Place from Vancouver customs to join the Wild for today’s practice.

He made quite clear what his intentions are for tomorrow night’s game against the Canucks: “I’m here to play.”

Nolan, who’s missed the past three games with a broken toe, has a plastic toe guard on his left skate. He’s in a walking boot, which all his teammates were making fun of. Quipped Nik Backstrom, “Hey, you’re overdressed today.” Lots of “old mans” tossed Nolan’s direction, too.

Andrew Brunette, who is playing through a serious knee injury, didn’t practice today but will play tomorrow, according to coach Jacques Lemaire. Brunette received hours of treatment today, which included physical therapy from a pro.

These guys are a dying breed.

“I’m not here to watch games or milk an injury,” Nolan said.

– Speaking of watching games, Marian Gaborik put his foot in his mouth today back in Minnesota when he voluntarily said when asked if he feels the pressure to return with the team sinking, “Quite frankly I haven’t really been watching games. I’ve been following the scores but I haven’t been watching games. From my perspective, I just really need to focus on how am I feeling, how everything goes with me and then if everything goes good I’m going to jump in to play. Definitely the pressure is on, but first of all I want to feel confident in my body and … so far everything is going well.”

Gaborik should probably hire a publicist. Whether he meant it the way it sounded or not, with the me-me-me stuff and the not watching games stuff, he sounds like a player who’s emotionally disconnected, and there were some teammates bemused by the comment. If you’re injured, you probably shouldn’t announce you don’t watch the team that pays you $7.5 million play games.

Gaborik also was inconsistent today with what the team’s been saying. Doug Risebrough’s said he’s hoping Gaborik will be the “shot in the arm” the team needs and that he’ll be back sometime between March 10-20.

Gaborik said he hasn’t set a timetable and will be back “toward the end of the month, hopefully earlier.”

By the end of the month? “We’ll have five games left,” said Eric Belanger.

Said Gaborik, “Obviously this is a tough road trip. I wish I could help. I just have to wait and come back at the right time and come back strong. I don’t want to just come back to come back. I want to come back when I really feel I can contribute and be a big piece.”

This is not good news for the Wild. If it was trying to broadcast how close he was in order to trade him, Gaborik’s comments don’t help. And if the Wild truly believed he’d be a “shot in the arm,” well, the Wild’s fate could already be decided when he’s ready to play.

– Antti Miettinen reiterated today how sorry he was for the accident Saturday night that left Oilers captain Ethan Moreau with an eye injury. Miettinen and Moreau came together and Miettinen lost his balance and his stick came up and struck Moreau in the eye.

But the good news is that Oilers coach Craig MacTavish told Edmonton reporters today, “All the news, so far, has been positive. Everything looks to be pointing to a complete and full recovery.” Reportedly, his sight will not be affected.

– Couple trade deadline nuggets:

1. If you start to read rumors that Kim Johnsson asked to be traded, he completely and emphatically and loudly denied it today.

2. Niklas Backstrom referred me to his agent, Don Baizley, on negotations, but Baizley hasn’t called back all week. Backstrom said he honestly doesn’t know how close the two sides are. I asked if he was worried about getting traded and he said, “No. Whatever happens happens.”

Hey, playing behind Alex Ovechkin would soften the pain, eh? (I’m saying that, not him). 

3. Marc-Andre Bergeron, a possible free agent, is worried he’s going to get traded: “I’ve been traded twice at the deadline, so it’s in the back of my mind. And my wife’s pregnant. She’s due in April.”

– Lemaire said he’ll name his captain for March on Tuesday. I bet my press credential it’s Owen Nolan.

– Lemaire was very jovial today: “Well, we didn’t play.” :)

– Lemaire has been wearing a hard shell on his injured elbow and shoulder “23 hours, 55 minutes a day. The five minutes I don’t is when I shower.” This stems from Miettinen running him in practice in February. He said he’s going to ask Miettinen to sign it.

– The Wild had a bowling tournament yesterday, won by Bergeron, Backstrom, Belanger, Craig Weller and Cal Clutterbuck.

“We were good, except Cal suffered from overheating,” Bergeron said.

The second-best team included Nick Schultz and Brent Burns.

Said Schultz: “I bowled a 172 and Burns bowled a 78 first game, a 74 second game. We missed the Finals by 10, so that shows you who didn’t pull his weight. Even the guy that just sharpens skates (Tony DaCosta) bowled better than Burns.”

Said Burns: “What are you talking about? He can’t even sharpen skates. Bowling’s my one Achilles heel. Everything else, I’m excellent at.” :)

Gotta write.

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