I was at the game last night and started talking to a guy standing next to me about my Koivu jersey. He asked why I got it and told him I had traded it because it was a blank jersey autographed by John Scott (who was no longer with the team at time that I won it)
Dude says, "Yeah, well at least Scott can play and would be a better jersey than Koivu". To which I replied, "I don't even think Scott is playing in the league anymore".
I guess I had higher expectations of my fellow Minnesotans to know a skilled hockey player compared to a one-trick pony... but I guess not.
Seems like a lot of anger is being directed at European hockey players. There was a concerted grassroots effort to oust Martin Skoula, despite how much Jacques Lemaire loves the guy. Same with Marek Zidlicky after he did less than nothing this year in the Iron Range Red.
And I've constantly felt the need to be President of the Mikko Koivu Apologists Association of Minnesota after seeing at the 'SHP or on Twitter that Koivu needs to be traded. Or stripped of the 'C' because he's grumpy after a loss.
Or that John Scott is a better hockey player than Mikko Koivu.
Yes, I'll grant you that many Wild fans have a short tolerance for some North American players like Cam Barker or James Sheppard. Even local boy Tom Gilbert has raised the hackles of some. But part of me also thinks that there are good reasons to be annoyed with Sheppard (why the hell do you go out on an ATV days before training camp begins, you dolt?) and Gilbert (when you're traded for a stand-up guy like Nick Schultz, expectations on you are going to be unfairly high.
Then I rattle through my memories and I recall that Skoula, Zidlicky and Koivu haven't been the only European targets of Wild xenophobia. Antti Miettinen was the target of much ire for his complete inability to get a shot on net. Other teams never worried about Miettinen because even with everyone else paying attention to Koivu and Brunette and a wide open net, you could count on Miettinen to send the puck high and wide.
Or Filip Kuba, who was reviled for many of the same reasons as Martin Skoula: A near inability to skate and an uncommon talent for tripping on the blue line. Even Marian F'n Gaborik, arguably the best player to grace the home locker room at the Xcel Energy Center, was accused of floating on more than one occasion, accused of suckholing for a breakaway, and playing only for himself.
And let's not forget the lionizing of Mr. One Trick Pony himself, Derek Boogaard. Don't get me wrong, I loved the guy too, but how long would we have tolerated a guy who can only bust heads but never score goals if he was Russian or Czech or a Swede?
Fair or not, there is a current of xenophobia amongst Wild fans. Maybe it's a reflection of how Minnesotans naturally distrust anyone from outside our comfort zone (ie, Minnesota and blood relatives). Maybe it's a lingering effect of The Woog's desire to field a Gophers team entirely of players from Minnesota.
I could be wrong, and I hope I am. Maybe we have no tolerance for crappy hockey players. But it does seem as if our patience is a lot shorter if the player is not from our sacred shores.
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