Thursday, November 3, 2011

Anything but Wild

***** My interview with NHL ref Kelly Sutherland, Nux chat with B-Dub and a little three down ball with Lion's O-lineman Jesse Newman: *****

When it comes to lovin’ hockey (or Haaaackey in the native tongue) Minnesota is the American equivalent of Canada’s hockey hotbed Toronto.  It would stand to reason then that the Wild have historically suffered from the same level of ineptitude as the centre of the Canadian hockey universe and boy howdy are they ever keeping pace in that department.
The Wild are perhaps the most inappropriately named team in the entire North American sports brethren, atleast until The Coyotes relocate to Quebec City.  Watching a Minnesota game could be considered anything but wild.  The cherry on the icing on the cake of this whole misconceived team identity is that the Wild play at the Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesotans know their hockey and they have tolerated watching Jacque Lemaire neutral zone trap hockey in order to stay competitive as an expansion franchise but the expansion tag is long gone as they are well in to their second decade.  Ownership realizes a need to make changes to reward their fan base but despite coaching philosophy and roster overhauls for some reason the Wild are still kinda boring.
I have to wonder if the reputation they earned under Lemaire isn’t superseding the reality of a team that recently acquired two power forwards out of San Jose, Devin Setoguchi and former 50 goal man Dany Heatley and can on any given night deploy a number of rough-n-tumble types to crank the voltage inside the Xcel Energy Center but for some reason I still dread having to watch the Wild play.
The Wild are currently in a playoff spot, and I have hope that as the season progresses this team will earn a new identity, unfortunately despite their current ranking of 7th they’ve scored only 23 goals this year, one fewer than they’ve allowed and currently boast the leagues 27th best power play which is producing at a slick 12.5%. Currently leading the offensive for the Wild are Setoguchi, Heatley and Mikko Koivu, tied with seven points each in 11 games, even more disparaging their highest scoring defensemen have two points each, that being Jared Spurgeon and Marek Zidlicky.  The other six defenseman that have dressed for the Wild this season are either scoreless or have the same points total as goaltender Nik Backstrom…one.
They say a leopard can’t change his spots, but that speaks more to appearances than identity, and the one thing that was well within the Wild’s power to change was their blasé team colours: Green and Merlot.  The solution:  an all green third jersey with silver writing, a nice look if you’re trimming the tree but not for designing team apparel.
Appearances aren’t what they seem in Minnesota; yes, they are again in the playoff picture (for now) but no, they aren’t yet entertaining.  I propose league disciplinarian Brendan Shannahan consider giving Minny an ultimatum: play more entertaining hockey or change your name to something more applicable.  I think he might get away with it as they are repeat offenders of targeting the neutral zone and are for the most part the antithesis of everything the league has become.

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