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Granlund Returns To Practice

by Kelly Erickson / Minnesota Wild

At the start practice Mikael Granlund fell into the boards, hitting his head.

It was his first practice with the team since sustaining a concussion Nov. 29 in his first shift against the Phoenix Coyotes.

“You’ve got to test it out, right?” Head Coach Mike Yeo joked.

The 21-year-old laughed and simply remarked things like that happen sometimes.

Granlund has been skating on his own for about a week and finally felt well enough to participate in a full practice this morning. Throughout the session he worked with Mike Rupp and Justin Fontaine and while he’s told Yeo he wants to be in the lineup as soon as tomorrow, the timetable on his return remains a little unclear. Though, he will join the team on its East Coast road trip later this week.

“There’s no question,” Yeo said of the importance of getting the centerman back in practice. “And he looks good too. He has been on the ice so it’s not like he hasn’t been skating… this is a very big first step.”

It was clear Granlund relished taking that first step today, spending as much time on the ice as he could. After the main wave of players hopped off, Granlund continued to skate with the last group of guys until finally he was alone — and even then he spent a good amount of time on the Xcel Energy Center ice sheet.

While Granlund has been skating and participating in off ice work outs, he said he felt surprisingly good in practice, something he really didn’t expect with over two weeks away from practice.

“It felt good,” Granlund said. “You really like to be there on the ice and be able to skate and play. That’s what every player wants.

“This is my first skate with the team now. That’s a start. We just have to keep building.”

When asked about sustaining the injury and the recovery process, Granlund mentioned it wasn’t fun. Beyond sustaining the injury the time away from the team was also a hurdle he had to overcome.

“You like to be there and help your team, but that’s how it goes sometimes,” Granlund said. “Injuries are part of this game and you just need to go through those.”

After emerging as a solid second-line center earlier this season, Granlund has shown he likes to play a competitive game and isn’t afraid to battle down low.

Yeo said there’s no need to completely alter the youngster’s game, but there are things he can learn to protect himself a little bit out on the ice. But no matter what, they don’t want to see him lose his competitive edge.

“Obviously you need to be smart,” Granlund said. “But I feel like that’s part of my game, to go into those little holes and make tough plays. I really don’t want to get away from that. But I need to be smart and I think that’s something I need to learn more.”

From One Finn To Another

While Granlund was surrounded by a scrum of media after he finally got off the ice this morning, captain Mikko Koivu strolled back into the locker room to grab something from his locker. He simply laughed at Granlund and as the scrum broke up he joked about everyone talking to “Mr. Finland.”

Though Granlund was the focus today at practice, Koivu will get a little limelight of his own tonight as KARE11 is airing a half-hour special of Perk’s Grand Slam. Earlier this season Eric Perkins sat down with some of the big names from the Wild, Twins, Timberwolves and Vikings. While we got a taste of the interview earlier this season, be sure to tune in at 6:30 tonight to see more of what Koivu, Joe Mauer, Kevin Love and Adrian Peterson have to say.

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