This year the Minnesota Wild finally got their long sought after outdoor stadium series game vs.Chicago Blackhawks on February 21, 2016, at 3.30PM. Just about everyone you talk with is very excited for this game here in Minnesota. But, there is a second game that is actually played first, that is causing some debate. The Alumni game will be played on Saturday February 20, 2016 at 4PM. The rosters for Minnesota will include both former Wild players, as well as former North Stars players, aka the former Minnesota team.
The debate begins with using former North Star players that also played where they moved in 1993. Many are excited to see the former players like Modano who was drafted by the North Stars first overall in 1988. But, there are also many who feel that players who played in Dallas should not be allowed in an alumni game for the new team, the Minnesota Wild. Modano when drafted came out and became an instant fan favorite in Minnesota. But,to me personally, was more the pioneer of southern hockey expansion. He helped spread the popularity of the sport in the south of the United States. He's more Dallas than Minnesota. Then you have players like Wes Walz who was Minnesota Wild true alumni who never wore the North Stars jersey and now will be for this game.
The second debate in this is the jersey that was chosen. It is basically the old North Stars jersey, which has been the best selling vintage jersey for some time in the US still to date. The only Wild marking is a small patch on the left shoulder, while a North Stars symbol is on the right shoulder. Then the classic N in the middle. You will still see people wearing the old jersey's to Wild games. But, records and history really moved with Dallas as they only dropped the North part in their name and just took Stars. Which means people like Modano would also play the alumni game for Dallas. This is supposed to be about the Minnesota Wild, not the Minnesota North Stars.
For many this is bringing back painful memories of a team that was absolutely loved and taken away in the middle of the night. When Norm Green moved the team to Dallas for the 93-94 season, many in Minnesota were shocked, pissed, felt betrayed. They still were getting near capacity, if not sold out each night. There was no real reason to move the team, other than the owners personal legal issues after being accused of sexual harassment. Myself, I was a teenager when this happened. I stopped watching hockey until Minnesota got the Minnesota Wild in 2000. Even after being founded on June 25,1997, they didn't officially hit the ice again in the state of hockey until the 00-01 season. I refused to watch hockey and cheer for another team. I'm a loyalist to my team.
So the question is, should the players who played in Minnesota and Dallas be allowed to be in the alumni game? Should there be an exception if they never played for the Dallas team? This is supposed to be the Wild's stadium series, not the Stars/Wild stadium series, in my personal opinion. But, it also gets tricky if you are going to use the old North Stars players, I'd be fine if they retired in Minnesota and never played for the Dallas Stars. Then they more belong to Minnesota hockey history, although not the Wild technically.
This debate is just starting to heat up here in the great state of Minnesota since the release of the alumni game rosters and jersey. Some want only Wild players. Some want just Wild and retired North Stars. Some want all of the ones who played in Minnesota, regardless if they also played in Dallas. Minnesota has a unique situation as a place that lost a team and then got an expansion as a few years later. While the other team kept their name really. So my question to the reader would be, how would you feel if your favorite team moved, you get a new team in your state and now former players who moved with the old team are playing in an alumni game? The only other sports team today who can really feel that would be the NFL's Cleveland Browns.
I myself am going to boycott the game over the jersey. It should have a Wild symbol in the middle in my opinion. There was a rumored jersey that had the Wild logo and North Stars color and I was fine with that. But, this looks like the old North Stars, which is now property of Dallas, in my opinion. I will still gladly watch and support the real game though against the Blackhawks. I do like those jerseys they chose. It's about time we got this game and we are all going to enjoy and make it great! Most importantly, beat the Blackhawks! From the state of hockey, happy holidays.
We ARE the state of hockey!