New Jersey Devils Forward, Free Agent-to-be and Minnesota Native Zach Parise (photo from Zimbio)
As [former Minnesota Wild head coach Todd] Richards was fired due to lackluster seasons and futile play, I could remember hearing people exclaim if we had more Minnesota players we wouldn’t have this issue. I beg to have the question answered though, “how can you actually claim this and back it up with evidence?” Here is the thing I have noticed about these types of fans:
1. They typically do not watch any other team outside of the state of Minnesota
2. They believe that superstar players want to come home because they are from here
3. They believe these players from different schools would have immediate chemistry
Let me start by debunking all three of these:
1. These are usually the same people I lump into the rest of the fandom in Minnesota that believe our professional teams are always going to the big game. World Series, Superbowl, even the Rose Bowl for the Gophers. Without having a working knowledge of how the rest of the league/conference is leaves an extremely biased opinion that our team is actually good or relevant enough to compete day-in/day-out with some of the more elite programs out there.
2. Players like Paul Martin, Blake Wheeler, and Jordan Leipold were all given offer sheets from the Wild and all three declined to come here at this point in their careers. However, Cullen and Parrish signed almost immediately with the team. Simple answer to the question many ask to that is 22-30 year old players in their prime want to be on teams who can compete or go to various other locations to play since they’ve grown up in Minnesota, as opposed to other players who are on the decline of the career wanting to play in front of family or retire back home. This is also a magical reason I personally believe we cannot sign top grade UFA’s because this is not a desirable place for a 25 year old single male as opposed to Chicago, New York, or even Washington DC would afford them. Contrary to popular belief, there are 49 other states in the United States, many of which do have things we do not have here.
3. Most of these players did not play high school together or even played college together. To insinuate that a line of Parise-Langenbrunner-Backes-Martin-Leddy would mesh together for instant 100 point seasons is wishful thinking. Many have different styles of play and work well with their own linemates they currently do have on their respective teams.
Basically housing them all up within the state also proves to hinder the very thing we as Minnesotan’s hold dear, and that is the pride we produce the most consistent players in the NHL for North America. How? Every single national game on television the Wild are not playing in and every single team being watched for the first time by a fan miss out on what makes Minnesota the State of Hockey in the first place. When New Jersey’s Captain Zach Parise is talked about it is almost a sure thing they’ll discuss how he played in Minnesota for his development. Or even any of the other 35 Active players from Minnesota in the NHL today. This speaks levels of importance when the argument occurs between Michigan v. Minnesota for hockey supremacy.
Minnesotan’s as a whole need to realize that being greedy with our kids playing here truly is not going to do anything other than break up our own team that is performs very well, and also is not allowing our kids still to have that important step of development with other teams and performing for other fans. We should embrace the fact our state is highly sought after by hockey scouts for players because of how great our development programs we have are. Hockey is in our blood, but we also much remembers the whole point of any sport is to help it grow in areas that have never seen it before. Hoarding our players to stay home hinders that for not only the players, but the overall game itself. We will always see the great players from our state perform on the big stage together every 2-4 years, but let them wear the USA Flag on the front of it instead of a maroon “M.”