Wild put Ballard on IR, send Rupp to AHL for conditioning

The red-hot Minnesota Wild made a pair of roster moves on Monday, losing one veteran presence while inching closer to the return of another.

Defenseman Keith Ballard has been placed on injured reserve, the club announced, while forward Mike Rupp has been activated and sent to AHL Iowa on a conditioning assignment. Rupp, 33, has yet to play for the Wild this year after recovering from an offseason knee injury and will suit up for Iowa in games Wednesday (vs. Chicago) and Friday (vs. San Antonio) before returning to the parent club.

The outlook for Ballard is not as clear.

The 31-year-old rearguard returned from a seven-game absence (concussion) on Nov. 1 and provided a spark almost immediately, racking up three points in his first two games back. He also logged a season-high 19:46 TOI in a 4-0 win over New Jersey on Nov. 3, only to suffer an upper-body injury not related to the concussion, missing games against Washington and Carolina last week.

All told, Ballard has now missed nine of Minnesota’s 18 games this year.

Even without Ballard in the lineup, the Wild have played extremely well as of late. They’ve suffered just one regulation loss in their last nine and have captured 15 of a possible 18 points.

Minnesota waives Veilleux, Coyle expected to return Friday


The Minnesota Wild have placed veteran forward Stephane Veilleux on waivers for the purpose of sending him back to AHL Iowa.

Veilleux, 31, has appeared in 10 games for Minnesota this season, scoring no points while recording a minus-4 rating in 7:10 TOI per night.

He played with Minnesota from 2002-09 before embarking on a journey to Tampa Bay, the SM-liiga, the Swiss league and the New Jersey Devils organization before being re-acquired in the Marek Zidlicky trade of 2012.

He appeared in 21 games that season, then spent the entire 2013 campaign with AHL Houston before getting called up for Minnesota’s first-round playoff series against Chicago — and appearing in two games.

The Wild organization is obviously fond of Vellieux as a veteran presence, having brought him back on a couple of occasions and throwing him into the playoffs last year despite spending the entire season in the American League. That said, his chances to stick in the NHL might be coming to a close as Charlie Coyle appears ready to return from injury and Mike Rupp isn’t far behind.

Rupp (knee) hasn’t been cleared for Wild camp


Rugged Minnesota Wild forward Mike Rupp seems to be making progress from offseason knee surgery, but he hasn’t been cleared to participate in training camp just yet, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The 33-year-old is reportedly skating on his own but hasn’t taken part in drills or informal skates with teammates.

He played 40 games overall in 2013, playing in 32 with Minnesota after being traded from the New York Rangers.

Rupp showed some resilience of his own during a memorable overtime sequence in Game 1 of Minnesota’s first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, as you can see in the video below:

Ex-Devils, Wild forward Palmieri signs in Germany


After 87 NHL contests, Nick Palmieri is headed overseas.

Palmieri — New Jersey’s third-round pick (79th overall) at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft — has signed with EHC Red Bull Munchen of Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga, the club announced on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old broke into the NHL with the Devils and scored a career-high 17 points in 43 games during the 2010-11 season. He landed Minnesota as part of the Marek Zidlicky trade and appeared in nine games for the Wild during the 2011-12 campaign, averaging over 10 minutes per contest.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger spent part of last year playing for AHL Houston before being flipped to the Rangers in the Mike Rupp-Darrol Powe deal. He proceeded to score nine points in 30 games for AHL Connecticut, but never dressed in any games for New York.

Richards has reached out to Tortorella, ‘but there’s been no talking’


It appears the Brad Richards-John Tortorella relationship is still a tad acrimonious.

Months after the Rangers head coach made Richards a healthy scratch during the Stanley Cup playoffs, Richards told the New York Post he’s unsuccessfully tried to contact to his former bench boss.

“I reached out,” Richards told The Post. “But there’s been no talking.”

Tortorella, who was fired from the Rangers gig in in late May, appeared to have issues with Richards throughout the lockout-shortened campaign, all of which reached a head during New York’s second-round playoff loss to Boston, in which Richards was dropped from the lineup entirely in Games 4 and 5 after playing sparingly in Games 1-3.

There appears to be a new wrinkle, though.

The Post reports Tortorella thought “that Richards should have played in Europe during last year’s three-month lockout.” If accurate, this really accentuates how long (and deep) the rift between the two went.

In October 2012, less than a month into the work stoppage, Tortorella was already voicing his concerns about players losing their edge and the “mindset from the New York Rangers that defines us.”

After reading that, it’s not surprising to hear that Torts was irate that Richards — one of the veteran leaders of the team — failed to play overseas and keep in shape while fellow Blueshirt teammates (Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Rick Nash) did.

Of course, Richards was just one of New York’s over-30 veterans that opted not to play overseas, along with Marian Gaborik, Mike Rupp and Henrik Lundqvist.

Of course, Gaborik and Rupp got traded mid-season…so yeah.