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Updated: January 16th, 2012 2:13pm
Wild uncertain when Mikko Koivu will return from 'upper-body injury'

Wild uncertain when Mikko Koivu will return from 'upper-body injury'

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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As if things weren't already tough enough for the Minnesota Wild, the team got more bad news on Monday.

Captain Mikko Koivu, elected to the All-Star Game last week for the first time in his seven-year career, will be sidelined for an indefinite time because of what the team is calling an "upper body injury."

"We're going to call him week-to-week right now," coach Mike Yeo said before the Wild departed for Tuesday night's game in Philadelphia. "It's probably unlikely that we'll have him before the All-Star break but we'll see."

Koivu was injured in the first period of the Wild's 3-2 shootout loss at St. Louis on Saturday night and reportedly left the arena with his left shoulder in a sling.

"It's pretty frustrating right now," said Koivu, who lead the Wild with 33 points on nine goals and 24 assists in 41 games. "I had a minor (leg) injury there before Christmas and I just get back at it and starting to feel good again and then another injury.

"So it's frustrating and it's that time of the year, too. We play a lot of games and you're right in the middle of it. There's nothing you can do about it and you've just got to move on and try to get better."

Koviu, who centers the Wild's top line, is added to an injury list that includes forwards Guillaume Latendresse and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who are sidelined with concussion issues. All three play on either the Wild's first or second line.

While Koivu was placed on injured reserve, the Wild also recalled forward Carson McMillan from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League and reassigned goaltender Matt Hackett to Houston. There were reports that general manager Chuck Fletcher was trying to work a trade to acquire some goal-scoring help. The Wild is third from last in the NHL with 105 goals this season.

Koivu is the Wild's best two-way player and there is no denying his absence will hurt a team that has won only twice in the past 15 games. The Wild went 0-3-1 with Koivu out of the lineup earlier this season and is 6-11-3 since 2008-09 when he sits.

"We're not going to fill them. Let's be honest," Yeo said when asked how the Wild would attempt to fill Koivu's shoes. "We don't have another Mikko Koivu around and so it would be foolish of us to try to get anybody to be him.

"It wouldn't be very effective for any of our players to try to be him. It's a big challenge for us and we have to view it as such and get excited about the opportunity to rise to it. A lot of people probably are writing us off right now. We have a lot of guys out.

"But the one thing that I know is that this is a team that has a lot of character and we need a lot of that right now. We're going to have to go into every game just with a great commitment to play our game unbelievably well."

Koivu suffered the injury on a hit from the Blues' Vladimir Sobotka.

"I know what happened," Koivu said. "I was ready for the hit. I was steady and kind of hit him back a little bit, like you always do. So there's nothing I'd do differently. (He) just got me in the right spot. ... I could feel it right away. Something (was) wrong. That's why I went off. At first I thought it was even worse, but I guess that's one good thing that it's not as bad as I first thought it would be."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Monday that Koivu will miss at least a month, meaning he definitely won't be able to play in the All-Star Game on Jan. 29.

"We'll see," Koivu said when asked about potentially returning for the All-Star Game. "I think it's too early to even talk about that. I'm sure in a couple of day we'll know more and see how it starts to heal." 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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