The Minnesota Wild are seen as a reclusive team, but not by choice.
And that’s hurting the State of Hockey from having a Winter Classic anytime soon.
Since the team’s expansion for the 2000-01 season, they haven’t had much success, and any tradition of hockey in Minnesota was taken to Dallas, when the North Stars became the Stars for the 1993-94 season.
The Wild haven’t been able to strike success, or, more importantly, much post-season action.
Three things are generated through the playoffs: revenue, heritage, and rivalries.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks know this all too well. The two Western Conference teams are just about as far as two teams can be from each other within the same conference, but meeting in the playoffs thee years in a row has turned these two teams into bitter rivalries. In fact, some would say they’d go to a Blackhawks-Cancucks game these day before a Blackhawks-Red Wings game.
And why wouldn’t you? These two have formed a feud built within the span of thousands of miles and a handful of elimination games, where everything is on the line.
This is where the Wild are lacking.
Minnesota has made the playoffs in just three years: 2003, 2007, 2008. They played the Avalanche in ’03 and ’08 — winning the first post-season meeting and losing the following. In 2007, they lost to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
There’s not enough repetitiveness and longevity to construct a rivalry. The Wild need someone this post-season, because, chances are, Mike Yeo and his boys will be pushing deep in the playoffs.
So, what could happen next?
The Wild have been kicked around as a good, traditional hockey city to host a Winter Classic. A great viable rival for the Wild to clash with in the future is the new Winnipeg Jets. There’s proximity in that. However, Winter Classics have veered from having Canadian teams in the annual tradition, because CBC has Hockey Day in Canada, in which — before the Jets came back to Canada — all six teams play throughout the day in a remote area in Canada’s backyard. This season, it’s P.E.I., home to 27 outdoor hockey rinks.
So, if the Wild can’t shake things up with the Jets for a Winter Classic, maybe an emerging St. Louis Blues can be in the works. People say the Blackhawks, but truth be told, they have rivals as it is. St. Louis is getting competitve.
And with the new conferences aligned for next season, the Wild will be with the Central Division, the Jets and Stars. Plenty of solid contenders to stir the pot with, and to pitch a Winter Classic with in the State of Hockey.