Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday (or a day that ends in a "y") I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?
As I'm writing this sentence the Gopher football team is playing Iowa for Floyd of Rosedale in one of the biggest games of the year for those who bleed maroon and gold. The date is circled on the calendar, fans are riled up and the Hawkeyes rarely leave people's minds; Minnesota fans love to chant "who hates Iowa...we hate Iowa!" regardless of the opponent on the field. This week had been hyped as "hate week," which rings true - the game still stings a couple days later after losing 31-13- and is one of the reasons why this week's top five list is on the Minnesota Wild's rivals.
Rivalry is a subject that seems to come up a lot with Wild fans. Just this past week JS Landry of Hockey Wilderness wrote on the subject and a friend of mine who is trying to get into the team post-Parise/Suter coup asked me about it. Having a good rivalry - one fueled by history, geography and years of incidents - makes it that much easier to love your team yet honestly that's not really the case with Minnesota.
It's unfortunate and a side effect of losing a NHL team. I didn't really know how to answer my friend's question because the fact is that I don't hate on other NHL teams with the Wild the same way I do with Iowa or Wisconsin or North Dakota if we're talking about hockey. There is no "circle the calendar" game or player who really gets under my skin in the NHL that ruins the team.
As time rolls on and history gets made that will change. Today's Little Brown Jug becomes tomorrow's Floyd of Rosedale or Pittsburgh-Detroit. We're even seeing that begin to take shape when it comes to the Wild with the newly relocated Winnipeg Jets. The years will only tell if the hard-fought games featuring a concussion and Winnipeg fans descending on the X end up meaning more than say the Colorado Avalanche but hey, that's the nature of these things we call rivalries.
So without further adieu, the top-five Minnesota Wild rivalries finally answered.
This one loses steam with the Coup but for too many years the Wild fought against calls of "boring no-names" and "make the playoffs one of these years" to have the Minnesota-Irrelevancy rivalry fall to the wayside with two high-profile free agent signings. Haterade now has a new form.
4. Whichever Northwest Division team is playing Minnesota
One of the highlights of playing so many divisional games is seeing how the Wild and Fox Sports North to promote a game against a Northwest Division team by bringing up how much the two teams hate each other. It's almost an artform to sell the State of Hockey on the great Minnesota-Calgary rivalry six times a year that will likely be forgotten by the second period when Flames and Wild fans alike join in on their indifference by trying to scalp the tickets for their next match-up.
Sure, each NW team has a team or two or three they'd rather play in the division than Minnesota but that doesn't mean there's room for one more.
Minnesota fans have asked to leave the Mountain and Pacific-leaning Northwest Division in favor of their traditional Central lineage ever since the initial six-division plan was announced in the late 90s. It's a Midwest, not a Canadian market and that's where Minnesotans look towards geographically. That was also the case with the North Stars (whose relocated team is also not in the Northwest Division) and does away with good ol' fashioned 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. CT division road starts.
Nothing says hooking the kids like having a dozen division games start after their bedtime.
Realignment stays at #3 thanks to being a victim of the ongoing collective bargaining agreement. Although the rivalry looked to be a done deal back in December, it fought back and continues to rears its ugly head while Wild fans hope to find their way into a larger Central Division.
2. Whichever fanbase trolls the most on the message board or blog you visit
There are plenty of great places on the internet to discuss hockey...and a lot more filled with a**holes. It's the nature of the beast. Sometimes the two mix and with a league that has 30 different tribes, fights will go down.
While Minnesota doesn't have the largest internet presence, that doesn't matter; each place has a different group of trolls. For some it is the Vancouver Canucks. For others it is the Edmonton Oilers or Toronto Maple Leafs or just likely a team that has a large fanbase whose fans will talk to anyone. This usually has the effect of slanting the mindset of a group towards wanting to beat that internet fanbase, even if it doesn't have anything to do with the team on the ice.
But it's better than nothing.
1. College & HS hockey
This picks up even more if the Lockout continues past October and November, however, the effect of a NHL team in a so-called "State of Hockey" competing against the thousands of fans who consider themselves Gopher/Bulldogs/Huskies/Badgers/Sioux/Mavericks/Beavers fans first and Wild second cannot be understated.
In the end there is more history and geography (not to say a fight for entertainment dollars) than anyone else.
(Honorable Mentions Winter Classic, Sid Hartman, calm)