Hey gang- Nate is busy putting stuff in boxes, moving them, then unpacking them, so he tossed me the keys to this baby for a special guest edition of Top-5 Thursday. Today I thought we'd go in a different direction- let's count down the things that I, me personally, don't like about the same team that I write about.
5. The Crowd At The Xcel Energy Center For Home Games
Now, don't get me wrong here- I've been on both sides of the coin in terms of taking in a game in person. I've been apart of crowds that are absolutely electric; the arena is buzzing with energy, and goals by our favorite squad create deafening roars. I've also been apart of crowds that are sparse and apathetic where I've felt more vibe at funerals. It isn't the electricity I don't like- its that "the greatest fans in the World" don't have an identity.
It's a great place to take kids, the games are very family-friendly- to a fault. There isn't much snarl though- there's no Camptown Races, there's no Potvin Sucks, there just isn't thing that defines us as a crowd, besides the "rahs" and the "boos."
Maybe its just a matter of time considering the franchise is still relatively young, but on the same hand one sort of feels guilty or out of line trying to lead the charge. Damn that Minnesota Nice.
4. Still Defined By The Jacques Lemaire Era
Maybe that will change with the splashy signings of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, but with every lazy season preview you'll see the terms "defense-oriented" and "neutral zone trap", despite the last two coaches emphasize a forecheck-heavy system. It also could be that we just weren't that interesting, which unless you are an ardent fan, is basically true.
3. The White Road Sweaters
Anyone whose followed me on Twitter has known of my disdain for these things.
Just a thought.
2. The Name
Granted, it could have been worse but let's face it- "Wild" is awkward in terms of grammar, amorphous, unintimidating, and lacks the sort of informality or pet name which makes good team names great- Sens, Pens, Hawks, Preds, Tips (Everett Silvertips, WHL), Spits (Windsor Spitfires, OHL), Fronts (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL), Sags (Chicoutimi Sagueneens, QMJHL), Dogs (UMD Bulldogs, NCAAA) are all abbreviation friendly- even The Colorado Avalanche are able to cut it down to Avs. It's not that its a bad thing that the team has an nonspecific name, but we're not talking about an Avalanche, we're talking about the dangerous and fearsome...generally undeveloped and remote part of nature where people aren't living.
I get it it- it can't be easy developing a brand from scratch, and you want the name and identity to reflect the market. Then you got focus groups, market surveys, etc. telling you who likes what and why. Maybe they should have gone the "University of North Dakota" route for a few years and then called the team "The Trappers."
"Traps." I could live with that, and it would make every season preview extremely easy.
1. Finally The Franchise Is Poised For Relevance, and a Lockout Looms
After four excellent draft classes and shaping the organization to a point where he finally wanted it, Chuck Fletcher's coup de gras was the most incredible free agent frenzy in Minnesota sports history- landing Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, two All-Star caliber players, in their prime, for matching 12 year, 96 million dollar deals. Literally, the future is now- the fanbase has had to wait to get to this point because it took YEARS to undo the mess that the previous regime left, and July 4th marked the end of that wait. Suddenly they are the hottest ticket in town, the apathetic "ball guy" sportswriters are forced to give a shit about hockey, spirits are up, confidence is high, and the season can't start soon enou....errrrm.
Not trying to break any news here (or ever really), but I spoke to someone last night who had a reliable source tell him he had heard that Thanksgiving would be the best case scenario for the season to start, if AT ALL.
No doubt its awfully frustrating to be left out in the cold by the League we choose to love- as if we, the paying customer doesn't matter, when this is clearly a case of the Owners needing to be saved from themselves...again (including ours). Idiot proofing idiots.
Suddenly all the excitement about the upcoming season has to be put on hold, and a second work stoppage in the last 10 years may just completely turn fans away. My Dad, for instance, basically blew off Major League Baseball after their work stoppage in the 1990's. Whose to say others won't do the same, and what reason do we have to believe that when this next CBA (whenever they figure that out) expires, we won't go through this again?