Back to the House that Russo built

Posted on March 25th, 2009 – 10:32 AM
By Michael Russo

Well, me and Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin and Billy Smith and Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom and Duane Sutter and … But I’m in there somewhere.

Just came from the Wild’s optional morning skate at the greatest arena in all of pro sports, Nassau Coliseum. Man, what a great building. Cozy, right on top of the ice, liquified cotton candy sticking to the metal stands.

Just a great barn. So, I’m biased. Shoot me.

Funny, but my standard line when people ask me about the Nassau Coliseum — which is a puck shot away from where my mother went to college, Hofstra, by the way, and 10-15 minutes away from where I grew up in Plainview, Old Bethpage, Jericho and Roslyn, essentially – is that it always smells like the circus.

No matter when the circus was here, even if it was six months before, it always smells like the circus.

Guess what? The circus was just here, so it really, really, REALLY smells like the circus today. In fact, the Islanders couldn’t have their morning skate here today because the ice wasn’t set in time. The Wild — about 10 of them and the coaches — were the first to actually step foot on the new ice.

Asked how the ice was, Peter Olvecky said, “Weird.”

They said it was pretty chippy and felt like it was going to crumble under them, so that should be fun tonight.

Cool sight this morning was Colton Gillies skating under the Clark Gillies’ number retirement banner. Clark is a distant cousin of Colton — and the two have actually never met. But Gillies’ first-ever goal — and winning goal — was Dec. 19 against the Islanders at home.

The down-and-out Islanders currently have 17 skaters on their roster, so if they don’t call anybody up today, they’ll be skating shorthanded. Tons and tons of injuries this season for the John Tavares-hoping Isles. The latest, Kurtis McLean, ruptured his Achilles playing soccer warmups with his teammates. Somebody else I know got hurt that way. Hmmmm. Can’t remember who?

Speaking of Marian Gaborik — oh, I do — man, he was good last night. The funniest thing is he’s known for speed and a deadly wrist shot, yet all four of his goals have come from the goalmouth this season.

Kurtis Foster is back out for John Scott. Craig Weller’s out, too.

Niklas Backstrom’s in net. In front of Mario Tremblay, I asked Backstrom if he was playing. He didn’t know yet, so he said, laughing, “Do me a favor. Ask the coach.” Tremblay said, “I’m not the coach, but damn right, you’re playing.” Actually “damn” was another word.

Cal Clutterbuck is two hits from breaking the “NHL record” for hits in a season. He’s got 310. Dustin Brown had 311 last year. Hits have only been kept really since the lockout and a few years before, so I don’t see the game being stopped tonight to honor Clutterbuck.

OK, my aunt and uncle are waiting for me. Later tonight, I will be back coming to you from the Nassau Coliseum rafters, which is even with the greatest retired banners in pro sports.

By the way, remember, Russo Radio on KSTP is on Friday night at 6 this week, not tonight.

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