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.