Hockey Correspondent and Occasional Shakespeare Character, White Cover Magazine
The Minnesota Wild have always been under-appreciated. Disrespected. Slammed and slighted.
This year, though, it’s been taken to another level. Only once in their history have the Wild won the Northwest Division — in 2008 — and they promptly lost to Colorado in the first round. So, that may explain some of it. They are the best of the post-1998 expansion era clubs, but those clubs include the perennially lost hockey wildernesses of Columbus and (the recently departed) Atlanta.
The Wild are still that kind of goofy-looking, Christmas Tree-wearing gang of misfits they were when they entered the league over a decade ago.
Last summer, they finally changed their tune. They finally started running the table. They called other peoples’ bluffs. They didn’t wait for their chips to erode.
They didn’t keep tossing their Plinko slide down the board, waiting like a sucker to see where it landed and if it would all work.
No, the Wild owned. They bought Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and they spent a lot of money, but that’s all right. They have the same salary cap as everyone else and they already had a pretty darn good team locked up. Of course, the reaction was predictable.
Sportswriters from all over began debating the merit of the contracts, not the players involved. Whenever someone would ask if Minnesota could win a Stanley Cup in 2013, they would smirk and giggle like they always do when they say San Jose will win every damn year.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” they said. “Maybe next year, but certainly… some year.”
In that link at the top, Harrison Mooney of Yahoo! (who also blogs for Vancouver’s daily tabloid newspaper, The Province) wrote, “Prediction: Fourth. The Wild will contend for a playoff spot but they’ll fall just short.”
Everyone thinks the road to the Stanley Cup is such a long, hard grind. They think it’s boiled in the lava atop Mount Doom. They think you wait for your chance or — even stupider — that you earn your chance.
Of course, sportswriters don’t play the game, so they’d never know how it’s won, would they?
They said the same about Chicago. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were good, they said, but the Stanley Cup is always won the same way: hard work, Canadian-ity, and years and years of building your roster through the draft and properly plucked free agents.
If only that were true, and if only those pundits who pronounce about wrong could get over their own prejudice and soul-crushing Dinosaur-ness.
Let’s not forget: these people still think print media has a future.
“The Internet can never replace our business.”
F*ck, they said that, too.
The Minnesota Wild didn’t go about things the traditional way, and it may be hard to imagine them lifting Stanley’s Grail above their shoulders this June, but that never stopped Los Angeles, Carolina, Tampa Bay, or the Blackhawks, and it certainly won’t stop the home state of Gordon Bombay.
(*And, yes, we said the Wild would win the Northwest Division.)