Daily Links: Bouchard back; Who backs up Koivu?: Wild players generous; Johnsson a family man and more

Players give suites to kids - TwinCities.com
Following the lead of former Wild star Marian Gaborik, five Wild players have purchased three of the 66 Xcel Energy Center suites and are dispensing tickets for those suites to charitable causes this season. Goalie Niklas Backstrom, who joined Mikko Koivu and Nick Schultz to purchase one of the suites, said the trio is giving the tickets away because "everybody in our locker room, all the hockey players, know how fortunate they are to play here."

Competition is brisk at center behind Koivu | StarTribune.com
Opening night is Saturday, yet one of the Wild's biggest questions heading into training camp has yet to be answered: Who will be the Wild's No. 2 center behind Mikko Koivu? "It's wide open. It truly is," coach Todd Richards said Sunday. "We really thought [James] Sheppard had a great game [Friday] in Chicago. He scored a goal. He was on the ice when [Martin] Havlat scored.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard is back on the ice for the Minnesota Wild - TwinCities.com
With just one exhibition game remaining, Richards is still waiting to see his full team on the ice. He said forwards Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette and defenseman Shane Hnidy, all slowed by assorted injuries last week, are expected to play against the Flyers on Tuesday night in Philadelphia. Richards said he's hopeful defenseman Kim Johnsson also will be there.

Wild getting regulars back for exhibition finale at Philadelphia - TwinCities.com
When the Wild play the Flyers in Philadelphia tonight in their final exhibition game, they will be the closest to full strength since Todd Richards took over as coach this summer. In the lineup for the first time under Richards will be forwards Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette, and winger Petr Sykora returns after missing three games because of an ankle injury. "This is pretty much our team," Richards said Monday. "This will be our best measuring stick to date."

Will patience last when Wild needs to start out fast? | StarTribune.com
Tonight in Philadelphia, coach Todd Richards and his players get their last chance to check their progress without points on the line. But the need for patience in an innately impatient profession will remain. The trick for Richards and company will be to indulge it as much as they can, without losing ground early in what promises to be another tooth-and-nail Western Conference playoff chase.

What We Learned: 20 bold predictions for the NHL season - Puck Daddy - NHL - Yahoo! Sports
12. Cal Clutterbuck will finally dump the visor to earn Don Cherry's respect.

Johnsson right at home in Wild system | StarTribune.com
Johnsson's life consists of two different worlds, and he prefers them not colliding. Johnsson and his wife, Jeanette, have two daughters, Filippa, 6, and Felicia, 3, and "when I'm not here, I'm with my kids," Johnsson says. "When you get older, you realize why you play and you realize the career is very, very short. I go home to my kids, and there's no time to think about bad games and good games because you're just dad."

Russo’s Rants " Monday practice update; Johnsson extra
The news is getting better for the Wild, which is slowly getting players back on the ice. Petr Sykora and Kim Johnsson are practicing this morning. The only players not practicing are Benoit Pouliot, who was expected to be sidelined at least a week with a groin, and Derek Boogaard. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is practicing for a second day in a row. The traveling party hasn’t been determined as of yet.

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