If you, the amazing reader who is not being sucked up to at all by this writer, haven't noticed (or read Dan's blog yesterday), the Minnesota Wild are the top team in the NHL points-wise for at least a couple days. And if you, you super-awesome reader, haven't heard that fact then that's okay too. It's not like NHL.com or any other national media have brought up this fact or gone in-depth on their great start (or at least until today).
But while the lack of respect and attention towards the team has been a source of frustration for many fans and bloggers in the State of Hockey, it's not for me. For one, today is Rex Manning...err Sidney Crosby Day and no one can be upset on Sidney Crosby Day. Stars run the NHL and while somehow Dany Heatley went from the A List to the CU Later List after being traded, beggars can't be choosers.
Second, while it is easy as fans to focus on the negative all the time maybe we should be more positive. I'm not saying that everyone should be a complete homer but as my friend John wrote ever so nicely, hockey is a game played for our enjoyment and sometimes we let it run our lives. It has been a while since the team has been winning consistently and that should be enough. Enjoy the moment.
Finally, respect is earned on the ice. If winning was all that mattered, fans outside of Denver would love Tim Tebow's 4-1 play right now.
The Wild, like Tebow, have found ways to win games in the last minute or when all hope seemed lost. They've come out with some gaudy stats which aren't up to par with everyone else like having scored 24 less goals than Chicago yet have the same number of points. It's no 2 for 8 passing and still win like #15 did but it's hard to find anyone who would disagree that first-place Minnesota wins ugly games (the Wild, not the Gophers)
However like Tim Tebow has a coach in John Fox who knows how to use his strengths, the Wild have the same in Mike Yeo. This is an organization which has stressed youth lately and is 2-3 years away from having its best prospects wearing Iron Range Red (or hopefully just green). A perceived weakness in the defense has become the team's strength like the read option and players in the doghouse before the season (see: Matt Cullen) have overachieved.
It's been said before and will be said again, but Mike Yeo is a good coach worthy of our respect. He, along with general manager Chuck Fletcher, have a plan and while Minnesota may not have the talent other NHL teams do, like Tebow this isn't a long-term situation. If this is what Yeo does without the top prospects and free agents, imagine what happens when reinforcements arrive. The fundamental base coupled with the freeing of reigns due to increased ability and talent in the long run will lead to the organization getting the respect fans want.
After all, it will be earned on the ice.
The first 20 games for the Wild have been great this season but there are still 62 to go before being in first place is rewarded with a shiny trophy. Even then that trophy means nothing without a good playoff performance. It's too early to get excited about the team or demand respect - no one remembers the Avalanche two seasons ago now - but the way a team wins says a lot about them.
And if the Minnesota Wild are like Tim Tebow, they are using this "respect" issue as motivation.
Apreciate that NHL.