By Michael Russo
Just got back from like a six-hour walk — sandwiched by lunch with my editor. What an awesome day out, eh? Not a cloud in the sky.
One of the things I was thinking about is what training camp will look like next season. Strength and conditioning coach Kirk Olson might be the busiest person inside the Wild this summer — other than whomever the new GM will be.
Look at this rehab list as of now:
Niklas Backstrom — out four to six months following hip surgery Friday
Brent Burns — post-concussion syndrome and shoulder surgery Thursday that will require four months to heal.
Andrew Brunette — reconstructive knee surgery, out four to six months
Derek Boogaard — shoulder surgery Tuesday, out two months
Pierre-Marc Bouchard — concussion
(the way the B’s are dropping, Marc-Andre Bergeron better be careful walking across the street)
Nick Schultz — concussion
Tyler Cuma — still recovering from knee surgery
Oops, forgot Dan Fritsche – broken collarbone
Oh, and I forgot a fairly major one: Mikko Koivu — sprained knee
Essentially, the new GM will be inheriting a mess.
Also, the Wild signed Shoreview native Brian Kaufman to an AHL contract Wednesday to play next season for the Houston Aeros.
Kaufman, 25, played four seasons at Miami University, where he served as team captain this past season for the NCAA runners-up. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder had 85 points in 125 games during his college career.
“Brian is a smart player with a big body who can play a variety of roles,” said Aeros GM Tom Lynn.
Kaufman played hockey and football at Hill Murray and still holds the Minnesota State record for passing completions (36 vs. Waseca in 2001), passing attempts (83, vs. Minnetonka in 2001) and passing yards (555 vs. Minnetonka in 2001) in single games.
Lastly, I just have to spend a few minutes gushing about last night’s Carolina-New Jersey game. It was one of the most amazing finishes I’ve ever seen. Carolina’s up 3-0. New Jersey rallies to make it 3-3. And, in a rarity, Carolina scores a buzzer-beating game-winner with 0.2 seconds left on a Jussi Jokinen redirection (there are fewer better GM’s than Jim Rutherford, and it’s just so fitting that Jokinen scores the winner after Rutherford snatched him up).
It was just amazing hockey. The rush from the final five minutes kept me up for hours. I was literally standing up watching it.
It was just back and forth, and the play-by-play from John Forslund and color from Tripp Tracy was scintillating stuff. You’ve got to listen to the two of them when Tuomo Ruutu pulled a Jarkko Ruutu and ran over Colin White in a monster check. The broadcast lived up to the action.
I also am posting the following still shot from YouTube of the game-winner.
Click the picture and notice the guy in a black CCM shirt sky-high in the air while strangely few others are cheering? That’s concidentally my buddy Reed Schafer, best known as the former star hockey player of the Nova Scotia Junior A Antigonish Bulldogs, Culver Military Academy Eagles and Indiana University Hoosiers club hockey team. He’s also the son of former Alaska Fairbanks and Notre Dame coach Ric Schafer.
And I think he’s blocking the view of small children with the rare chance of getting to see one of the most exciting playoff finishes ever. Well done there, Reed.