Remember the first time the Wild played the Stars in St. Paul? Before the game there was Minnesota's most-decorated hockey player, Neal Broten, pulling off a Stars jersey to reveal a Wild jersey underneath.
For many of us old enough to have lived in a North Stars-occupied Minnesota, that moment symbolized the culmination of a healing process that the game that followed - a 6-0 ass-kicking by the Wild - completed.
The NHL team is dead, long live the NHL team.
Well the road the Wild has taken since that moment represents a negative trend line in terms of success. A couple high points sprinkled in among a mostly declining history. And, while the technicals behind that trend line may have bottomed out and started to actually strengthen recently, the results on the ice have yet to bear that out.
And that's okay. The dissection of the team is for another post.
This is about the recent announcement that the team will host a North Stars night on March 29th. "Back on Home Ice" is, to my memory, the first official Wild-sanctioned North Stars event in its history.
The team that had to act out the slaying of the North Stars memory dragon in order for its fans to move on, has since suffered enough self-inflicted wounds that it now has to try to resurrect those same North Stars to retain relevance.
I am of two minds about this.
First, I was a North Stars fan long before I was a Wild fan. Part of me is excited to see all those former players, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it.
Second, I am also a Wild fan. And this is a pretty sad indictment of just how far this team has fallen. I'm not talking about a falling of the cliff moment. Nothing that dramatic. But the Wild's ship has been slowly taking on water for really all-but two of its years of existence. Again, I do think Fletcher has started to fair over that hole, and right the ship, but she's still riding pretty low in the water and with a pronounced list.
If this event wasn't necessary they wouldn't have done it. Why now? Why not in year one? Why not after their big Western Conference Finals run - when the team had indelibly imprinted itself on Wild fans' collective psyche.
Because tickets were selling like crazy then. The Gophers or your average high school game took a backseat to a Wild game then.
Fact: the Wild was once the hottest hockey ticket in town. Even when they weren't winning.
Fact: the Wild is no longer the hottest hockey ticket in town. And they're still not winning.
Fact: the Wild has never done such an overt North Stars tribute before.
Circumstantial? Yes. But.....
At the end of the day, the Wild organization should use every means available to itself to promote itself in these tough times. We all know the product on the ice is going to continue to be terrible for at least the balance of this season. So they planned a diversion.
It's just too bad it has gotten to the point of needing a diversion in the first place.
"Back on Home Ice" is actually not an officially sanctioned Wild event. The North Stars reunion is an event created and designed by the former North Stars players, and lasts from March 29-April 1st. It is a reunion of former North Stars players here in St. Paul.
The Wild portion of it is to honor the players by dedicating a night to them, much the same way they do with many other groups, such as Defending the Blue Line, the Minnesota National Guard, etc. The T-shirts were designed by the MN NHL Alumni Association, and are being sold to benefit the Wild's charitable branch.
The short version of this is that it is not a Wild event. It is a MN NHL Alumni Assoication event that the Wild are throwing their support to.
OK, good points on who actually created the event.
My point stands: the Wild didn't always need the "help" that such an event gives them. Now they do.
The first nine years of existence, the Wild ranked 6, 7, 7,7,9, 10, 10, 9 and 10th in attendance, according to ESPN.
The last two years the Wild has ranked 15th and 16th.
So, it's convenient for the Wild that this came along this season, when they've got a shitty team riddled with injuries and a bunch of home games left on the schedule.
Again, I'm not saying the team shouldn't promote itself. It should. I don't think they shouldn't have done this. But it's also beneficial to the team, and it's too bad they need the help.
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