On the day Mikko Koivu was welcomed back to practice, the bigger news might have been that Guillaume Latendresse is "close" to returning to the Wild's lineup.

"He's getting closer," coach Todd Richards said. "[Tuesday], maybe. On the road trip, maybe."

Yes, Richards said that the big, hulking power forward's return to the Wild's lineup as soon as Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche is a "maybe."

Latendresse wasn't that committal. If he is that close to returning, the public will have to wait until Tuesday morning to find out.

"It's day-to-day to week-to-week," he said, laughing. "Can be [Tuesday], can be in two weeks. We don't know. We're going to make a decision everybody together, but for now, no decision has been taken."

It is becoming clearer, though, that Latendresse -- who hasn't played since Oct. 25 because of two torn groins, two hernias and a torn labrum in his hip -- simply needs to overcome that one final hurdle all athletes have to face when returning from a major, long-term injury: the mental one.

"I don't want to go out there and play one minute, wait for 10, go back and get cold and get hurt," Latendresse said.

Latendresse, who's still dealing with pain, eventually will be eased into the lineup, starting out on the fourth line and power play.

But he sounds worried about being more of a detriment in such a tight playoff race. After all, Latendresse will be at training camp speed while the rest of the league is going full throttle during the most amped-up point of the season.