Same shit different day. That’s what you’ll hear (more or less) throughout the state after another Minnesota Sports team was bounced in the first round of postseason play this year. The Timberwolves were the most recent addition to the long list and haven’t advanced past the first round since 2004. The Wild haven’t won a series since 2015, but the Twins take the “cake” being devoid of a postseason win OF ANY KIND since 2004. While there is no wiggle room to argue with the results from our teams, how much blame are YOU shouldering for the product?
Be the Voice You Want to Hear for Minnesota Sports
Today, everybody has access to everybody else’s thoughts whether they’re positive or negative, right or wrong, and varying in legibility. That includes players (whether willingly or not) being exposed to the bummer mentality that Minnesota sports fans have been posting online. This isn’t a new trend by any means, but one that’s worse than ever. It’s especially bad on the addictive cesspool that is Twitter, but this goes for other text, audio, and video media as well.
I am not exempt of blame. In fact, for some of the teams in this state I will hold my hand up as a verified part of the problem. That ends today. No more will I point out that the Wolves are statistically the worst professional franchise is US history, even if it is true. I will stop pointing out that KAT will never be “the guy”. I am also done yammering about how running Jimmy Buckets out of town after exposing the rest of the team was one of the biggest mistakes in franchise history as well.
The Price of Being “Right”
Sometimes being right and dunking on people isn’t productive. You ever play one-on-one (in any sport) with a kid? You could absolutely grab every rebound, throw unhittable heat across the center of the plate, or rip slap shots past them until they cried and quit. Their confidence is absolutely shattered and eventually they start to believe that they do suck, no matter how they actually compare to their peers. The same is true at all levels of sport and for humans in general.
I’m not saying that we should be coddling our teams and handling them like fine china. They’re big boys and can handle a real conversation. We’ve got some of the best beat writers in the nation and a select few online (including some at 10K) who bring up valid points. That being said, if all they’re exposed to is: negativity, panic, and despair, what shot do they have to be confident? The first sign of trouble and the seeds of doubt take hold because that’s what’s prominently spewed by the public and local news sources. What a shit way to operate. I, for one, am sick of it and won’t stand for more of the same while “we’re” still alive in the playoffs.
There Needs to be Balance
Listen, I’m not saying you have to be positive about everything. There’s nothing worse than the “find the good in this” people online. Sometimes it’s okay to just be upset. People who are smart enough to go to therapy tell me it’s healthy, even. Feel your feelings, acknowledge them, and deal with what you can control. It seems simple enough.
Know what’s worse than the eternal optimists? The people who are pessimistic every single day. Eeyore was introduced to us all at a young age. His outlook about everything was so depressing, it became hard to feel bad for him. Don’t be that person either. It’s a bummer to be around and it drags other people down with you. That includes the pitiful posts online. So many people in this state approach the playoffs with that lame “why bother” attitude every time there’s a questionable (or outright bad) call or a team is trailing. STOP IT. Sometimes I want to live in a place where fans are delusionally optimistic about the team(s) at all times but I refuse to live in Boston, New York, or LA.
Facts are Facts
Kaprizov won the Calder Trophy in 2021 and has already set records for the Wild franchise after only a few years. Jefferson won Offensive Player of the Year last season and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be looking to erase records that Randy Moss set. Anthony Edwards was named to the All-Rookie First Team. After narrowly losing the Rookie-of-the-Year title to LaMelo Ball in his first season and hasn’t slowed down since. Yes, it’s been tough to watch the postseason troubles. But at least we’re treated to watch these guys play the other 95% of the games each season. We can’t exactly call it champagne problems without a title, but it’s no worse than sparkling white wine problems that the Minnesota sports fans are throwing a pity party over.
The Minnesota Wild are top ten in winning percentage for NHL franchises all time. Know what that means? They’re in the top 1/3 of all teams. It gets even more impressive when you remove all of the defunct franchises as well. Sure, we may not be at the tippy-top of the pyramid, but if you’re expectation is to be the best of the best in a smaller market (by population and national media attention) without the same illustrious history as the oldest franchises, you’re a crazy person.
I take great pride in coming from a place where we show up better than every other team in the league. Now imagine how much more electric the games would be at The X if all of our fans showed up thinking that we could win. It would be so much easier for the boys if nobody lost steam the second a goal was given up. I’m not saying that the atmosphere has been bad at home this season. Game 3 might have decibel records at the Xcel Energy Center. That roar was reduced to a murmur by the third period of Game 4. That can’t happen.
Minnesota Sports fans want to “Tank for Talent”
Some Minnesota sports fans have been shouting about how we’re doomed to mediocrity. They would rather see the Wild tank in hopes that the lottery ball comes up with their name on it. Sure, Chicago rebuilt an entire franchise and created a dynasty around a first pick in the draft. That, however, is the exception and not the rule. Stamkos and MacKinnon are the only other #1 OA picks to win a cup with the team that drafted them since Kane.
The Edmonton Oilers had four #1 picks over a six-year span (2010-2015) and STILL have not made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Their last appearance was 2005-2006. The Toronto Maple Leafs are even worse. They snagged Auston Matthews in 2016 and haven’t snapped their FIFTY FOUR YEAR Stanley Cup Finals drought. Hell, they haven’t won a playoff series since 2004! Let’s not forget that Canada as a whole has not won a cup in THIRTY YEARS despite their NINE first overall picks either! All this to say that the Wild may be in a rough patch, but let’s not pretend that we’ve endured more hardships than any of these fan bases.
Odds of a Payoff
The Wild have never committed to the tank for the #1 pick. If you ask me…they never should. You’re banking so heavily on that pick being as clear as Crosby, Kane, or McDavid when it rarely is. They’re called generational players for a reason. Connor Bedard is as close to those names as you’re going to get. That being said, I’m not sure Anaheim’s nightmare of a season is worth the shot at landing him.
They only have a 25.5% chance of getting the first pick in the draft as the worst team in hockey. I only minored in math so I could be wrong, but that means they’ve got a SEVENTY FOUR AND A HALF percent chance that they DON’T get it. Imagine they don’t and then have to live with more poor performance for years to come. You can only see so many lacrosse goals from Zegras before it’s no longer exciting.
Worse yet are all the teams that tried to tank but couldn’t even do that correctly. There are others, but the biggest names that come to mind are Columbus, Chicago, and Arizona. Columbus signed one of the biggest free agents last season and it made no difference for that pitiful franchise. Chicago had a fire-sale of nearly every “talented” player on their roster, but Toews, Stalock, and the hungry young guns still won a few too many games. The national bank of Arizona has been taking on contract money for players that never suited up for the better part of a decade and now play in a college hockey arena getting dressed behind curtains. THAT is what misery looks like, folks.
A Brighter Outlook for Minnesota Sports Fans
Unless you’re a fan of this year’s Boston Bruins, a season without a championship is not a wasted season. Just enjoy the ride. Victories over a rival are sweet and they always will be. Seeing the players grow together and develop over time is fun. Watching how those athletes inspire the younger fans after a single in-person game keeps the sport going. It’s GREAT when your team wins. The parade and confetti is awesome, but that’s no more than icing on the cake of a great season. Giannis Antetokounmpo may not be the most fluent in English, but he said it as good as anyone I’ve ever heard.
Some degenerate bettors will say, “Positive Vibes Only”. Gen Z might come over the top with a “You’ve got to *manifest* It”. Religious folk will tell you, “Pray for it”. There’s plenty of others too. No matter which group you follow or fall into, there is a tagline you can follow. Personally I’ve chose to adopt the Gary Potter school of thought, and I’m urging you to hop on that train with me.
I’ve been hit by cars three times, which is an indication of how stubborn I am.
I write about everything across the board, but focus on Hockey and the pain that is Minnesota sports.
Argue with me on Twitter: @venividiveech