Happy Mother’s Day to all, especially our very own Mother I’d Like To… talk sports with… Cookie!
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MN – The Stanley Cup Playoffs are currently at a fever pitch in the eight remaining cities fighting for Lord Stanley’s Cup. One state stands above the rest – in American hockey tradition – and happens to be home to Angry Ward’s favorite teams past and present – the Minnesota North Stars and Minnesota Wild, respectively.
Detroit is an NHL Original Six franchise and owns the moniker “Hockeytown,” as spectators are reminded when watching a game at The Joe (Joe Louis Arena). On the big screen, Ferris Bueller’s best friend Cameron Frye wore Gordie Howe’s #9 Wings jersey during the main character’s day off from school and Uncle Joey often rocked the Detroit jersey on television’s “Full House.” But while Michigan may own the Hockeytown tag, it’s Minnesota that’s known as “The State of Hockey.” And who can honestly argue? The sport owes a large debt to the 1980 Olympics Miracle spawned from its youth and college hockey programs and grew USA hockey to what it is today.
And today the Wild find themselves all even at two games apiece in their Divisional Round series against the defending NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks, after a seventh game victory over the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round. What has been obvious during the team’s post-season play is a resiliency and a counter-punch when the Wild trail in a game or series. More evident is as a pants-on-fire home crowd that has been louder and more consistent than the audience for Rangers games and at times even at Boston’s TD Garden. The ferocity with which fans cheer gives a sense of how egregious the NHL’s losing hockey here was in 1993. Reasons then? A lack of funding for a new arena and a biatch of a wife blackmailing her owner-husband to move the team. Cut to present: The noise goes from puck drop to final buzzer and the Wild are undefeated at home during these playoffs, as fans sense one of those magical Minnesota hockey runs seen in 1981, 1991, and 2003.
Chicago and Minnesota once occupied the old Norris Division and waged plenty a war (look for a pre-game brawl in 1989 on Youtube) back in the day when the North Stars called the Met Center in Bloomington home. The arena was unpretentious and affectionately called a hockey barn and has since been razed and now houses a parking lot and an IKEA, of all things.
The Wild and Black Hawks are renewing this old heated rivalry with consecutive playoff match-ups, which bodes well for hockey and two rabid fan bases. The XCel Energy Center houses the Wild these days, who continue to wear their third jerseys, representing their proud hockey heritage with the retro script lettering promoting Minnesota. Latest Vikings QB draftee Teddy Bridgewater endeared himself to Minnesotans by appearing at game 4 on Friday wearing the Wild game sweater. Bridgewater is at least one new Wild fan, and I’m on the Wild Western Conference bandwagon until – dare I say – a Minnesota vs Boston Stanley Cup final?
Hockey is no longer homeless, and here to stay in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
DJ Eberle, who recently got hired out of college to work on a sports desk, tomorrow.
P.s… Because of Technical Difficulties, our latest Meet The Matts Radio Podcast mysteriously vanished yesterday from Mr. Blaber’s excellent post… So, here it is again. Wally Backman Skypes in again, fights with Bobby V and Mad Dog rants re Tommy Lasorda bashing Don Sterling’s gal-pal, the Jets passing on Johnny Football and MLB rule changes and replays in his “Bad Job/Not a Bad Job” feature
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