Fontaine returns to practice, joins Koivu and Vanek on 2nd line


Minnesota Wild forward Justin Fontaine returned to practice Tuesday after missing the beginning of the season on injured reserve because of a "lower body injury."

He is expected to be on the ice on Friday night when the Wild face Anaheim.

Fontaine, 26, joined the Wild's second line with Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek at practice on Tuesday.

"I saw some things early in training camp, unfortunately (Fontaine) got hurt, we wanted to give it a little bit more of a go," said Wild coach Mike Yeo to reporters after practice.

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Fontaine scored 13 goals in 66 games as a rookie with the Wild last season.

"What I like is the way he thinks the game, that gives him a chance to read off those two guys and make the plays that he needs to make," said Yeo. "We saw a couple of instances of that in practice. Whether it's darting into a hole or making a play into space with those guys – we are obviously very hopeful that will work out."

Fontaine has always been a playmaker. FOX Sports Net notes that he scored 23 goals and had 33 assists in 64 games in the American Hockey League the previous season, and scored more than 20 goals during his final two seasons at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Fontaine said their main focus would be trying to make turnovers and get to scoring areas, "keeping it simple early."

Adding Fontaine in the second line will require Yeo to shake up the lineup some.

The Pioneer Press reports Matt Cooke will move to the fourth line with Jason Zucker, while Ryan Carter and Kyle Brodziak rotated at center.

  • Stu Bickel, whom the Wild placed on waivers Monday to make room for Fontaine, cleared. He will report to the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League.

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