ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Former National Hockey League forward Andrew Brunette officially retired as a player Thursday, but he won't be out of the game for long.
Brunette was named Hockey Operations Advisor for the Minnesota Wild, an all-encompassing role that will allow Brunette to work directly with Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, assistant GM Brent Flahr, Houston Aeros GM Jim Mill as well as the coaching staffs in Minnesota and Houston.
"It may be a bittersweet day for Andrew Brunette, but it's a great day for our franchise," Fletcher said. "To add someone with his experience and his intelligence to our hockey operations department … who knows where this takes him? I think he has unlimited potential to do what he wants to do in this game."
Matt Cullen will be shuffled back to left wing, this time on the team's third line.
For the first time all season, Wild coach Mike Yeo has elected to break up his first line of center Mikko Koivu and wings Zach Parise and Dany Heatley. Koivu and Parise remain and will be joined by rookie right wing Charlie Coyle, who will play in his second career NHL game. It also will be the home debut for a player considered one of the Wild's top prospects since his acquisition from the San Jose Sharks two summers ago.
"It's special to be playing with those guys," Coyle said. "I'd like to thank coach for giving me the opportunity, but obviously, you have to take advantage of it. Whatever role they put me in, I'm going to play to the best of my ability and help this team win."
Also making his Wild debut will be fourth-liner Mike Rupp, who was acquired from the New York Rangers on Monday in a trade for Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri. Rupp will play on a line with center Zenon Konopka and Devin Setoguchi.
Rather than start red-hot Roberto Luongo, who has won three starts in a row and allowed three goals goals total over that stretch, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault decided to look at career numbers instead of season numbers. The Xcel Energy Center has been a house of horrors for Luongo, who hasn't started a game in Minnesota since Oct. 19, 2010, when he allowed six goals on 18 shots over 40 minutes in a 6-2 loss.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival took another step in his recovery from a lower-body injury sustained last week by skating for the first time since the injury Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center, though he won't play in tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild
Rozsival has played in three of Chicago's six games to start the season, posting two assists, two hits and blocking two shots. He is a plus-2 and provides the Blackhawks with a veteran presence on the blue line.
"Not tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect him soon."
Chicago opens a six-game road trip tonight against Minnesota, and Rozsival will likely be back in the lineup at some point on the trip. The Hawks are off Thursday before playing back-to-back games Friday and Saturday in Vancouver and Calgary.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota's first round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft was defenseman Jonas Brodin.
After playing in Sweden last season, he was expected to compete for a roster spot with Minnesota in training camp.
A lockout, a broken collarbone and an abbreviated stay with the Houston Aeros later, Brodin is with the Wild and will make his Xcel Energy Center debut tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets after playing in both of the games on Minnesota's recent two-game road trip.
Wild coach Mike Yeo said he's been very pleased with his young defenseman through two games, especially considering the circumstances.
"Going to Joe Louis [Arena in Detroit], that's a pretty tough welcome to the NHL and I thought he was outstanding," Yeo said. "I thought he was very good in St. Louis, too, in a game that was very difficult for a defenseman to play. I think he's done a very nice job.
Yeo is rewarding the young Swede by moving him to the Wild's top pairing with veteran Ryan Suter. The promotion promises to bring a much bigger spotlight, more ice time, and gives Wild brass a chance to see a defensive pairing that could be together for a long, long time.
"Quite possibly," Yeo said. "Certainly we're projecting for [Brodin] down the road to be that kind of player. But let's be fair, this is only his third game in the NHL. We're asking a lot of him, but we do think he is capable of it."
The move also allows the reunion of Tom Gilbert and Clayton Stoner on the Wild's second D-pairing, a unit that was very impressive over Minnesota's first two games -- the team's two wins so far this season.
The Blue Jackets were late arrivals to Minnesota. After beating the Dallas Stars on Monday night at Nationwide Arena, weather conditions kept their plane grounded until this morning. The team did not leave Ohio until 10 a.m. local time and arrived in Minnesota less than eight hours before puck drop.
The team is not scheduled to hit the ice until warm-ups tonight, but will look to build off their win last night, which snapped a four-game losing streak.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota enters play tonight winners of two in a row and will look to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 2008-09. Coach Mike Yeo has made no changes to the skaters in his lineup through two games, a trend expected to continue Tuesday night against Nashville at Xcel Energy Center.
Niklas Backstrom started in goal Saturday against Colorado and will get the nod again. Over his career against the Predators, Backstrom is 7-4-1 with a 2.83 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.
Nashville is expected to make a couple of changes after Monday night's shootout loss to St. Louis, as the team recalled forward Gabriel Bourque from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League. Where he slots in is anyone's guess, as Nashville only had an optional skate this morning. Predators coach Barry Trotz did mention, however, that he was recalled in order to play Tuesday.
Trotz said he knew who he was starting in goal but wouldn't reveal it until just before game time. Reading the tea leaves, it's believed Chris Mason will get the nod. In 13 career games against Minnesota, Mason is 6-5-2 with a 3.20 goals-against average and an .881 save percentage.
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I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.