The end justifies the means.
Show me a Wild fan who says he enjoys it when the Wild loses and I'll show you a Wild fan who just earned my scorn and ridicule.
It's not about enjoying the loss. Ever.
I think Minnesotans tend to settle - especially when it comes to their sports teams - too much, and compulsively, anyway. I did my time in the Big Apple and I saw how hard and uncompromising those fans are. And that changed me. I went from the pie-eyed Minnesotan going "My goodness, did they just boo their own player?!" To what I like to think of as a proper NYC fan "YOU CALL THAT A CLEARING ATTEMPT YOU BUM? DIE OF EBOLA, LOSER!" during the six years I was in the NYC metro area.
Now I've mellowed a bit from that extreme, but there's no way I'm going back to the "Aw shucks, too bad. We'll get 'em next year." of my youth.
That said, the Wild. Ho-boy the Wild.
Look, I understand the trials we've been through these eleven seasons. I've been through them with you. This has been a hard team of which to be a fan. Few highs and lots of lows.
I have had to remind myself "This is better than no NHL hockey." many times over the years.
They've hardened us, even if our crusty layer as Minnesotans is still thinner and more brittle than that of true New Yorkers.
Still, no way I can get behind enjoying a loss. Even during this nightmare of a season, there's nothing fun about losing.
So what's an embattled Wild fan to do? Drink heavily? Check. But that gets old, not to mention expensive.
This year is affording Wild fans a unique experience in March and April: hope. For a lottery pick.
Lemaire was too good. Richards, hell I still don't know if he was better than we give him credit for, just lucky, or both. But even Todd got his teams to finish just out of the money picks. Now it's Yeo's turn. And HE is finally delivering the goods.
No, this is not bashing Yeo time. I can't sit here and judge Yeo on his job this season given the incredible injuries and the roster he's had to work with as a result. Mike gets a pass from me for this season.
But the fact remains: Wild fans have something to be excited about at the end of the season, and it's been a while since that's happened in any form.
Tonight was a perfect example. The Islanders, Maple Leafs and Canadiens all played as well as the Wild. Toronto lost (the bastards) but the Canadiens got one point and the Islanders got two. The Wild did their part, losing in regulation to the Rangers. I found myself watching the shootout in Florida, then literally on the edge of my seat as time wound down in the Wild game.
Seriously, when's the last time you were on the edge of your seat during a Wild game in the last week of March? It was the last time they made the playoffs for me. That was like 1996, right?
I don't *enjoy* the losing. But it's about the loss representing a means to an end here. You don't have to enjoy it to see and appreciate the benefit.
I admit it's a fine line. And I'd rather have a reason to watch than not, no matter how macabre.
I appreciate and am at peace with the loss, even if I didn't enjoy it.