Sunday, March 18, 2012

As the other shoe drops...again, and again, and again, and again...

Disasterous Minnesota Wild season nears its' inevitable conclusion, minus seven regulars, give or take

Three weeks remaining. 11 games. 7 at home, 4 on the road. When Wild fans looked at the schedule in July, they saw a golden, once-in-a-decade opportunity to make most of your run for a playoff spot at home, in front of your own fans, with sell-out after sell-out, despite the weak economy.

Yeah, right. wasn't there a song about this, from the 70's? 'I Like Dreamin'...'

The reality is nearly the exact opposite of what I have stated above. Oh, there is the 11 games at home during March and April, of the last 19 games overall. But with a record since March 1 of 1-6-1, and since the Dec. 13 beatdown at Winnipeg's MTS Centre -- the game which, quite frankly, derailed the Wild season's juggernaut --  this Wild team has done the nearly impossible, gone from best record in the NHL on Dec. 13 to the third-worst record in the league this Sunday morning -- and no one can seem to find the switch to turn on the old Wild once again.

The Wild's record-setting futility streak, of losing five straight in front of the home folks, emphasizes the need for further development of the roster, not only for depth but for breadth as well. You not only need more players, but you need better players as well. Cleaning house just isn't enough. You really need to blow this thing to hell and start over. If you haven't adopted another team for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, you are wholeheartedly advised by this blogger to do so. Now.

For this Wild season will end, three weeks from yesterday, with possibly the last game ever for the Phoenix Coyotes franchise, as an Arizona sports team. Nobody attends their games at Arena, but they are still in the playoff chase. But the Wild, and their 'Team of 18,000', are not.

Did I want the Wild to make the playoffs, even though I was as skeptical as everyone else when the Wild were going thru their November winning streak? Sure did! Did they disappoint me this January and February? Sure did! This 'March into hell' month is just depressing as a Wild fan. (Now I know how Toronto Maple Leafs fans feel. Just think of this times 40, and you somewhat understand your Leafs' fans frustrations.)

But the selling of hope -- as the 'new generation' of Wild players, led by the (hopefully, he's not signed yet) arrival of Mikael Granlund from Finland's HIFK -- continues, even as the NHL and the Players' Association veer ominously towards a labor dispute, one which threatens to disrupt, if not cancel, the 2012-13 season in its' entirety. The fact that two of the most stubborn figures in North American sport -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr, he who helped make the Mendoza-line banjo-hitting baseball player a multi-millionaire -- are squaring off against each other, does not bode well for the hockey-loving NHL fan.

So enjoy the losing, Wild faithful. For in three weeks, it will all be over. Except the angst of 'we should have been there'. Because a season which started with so much promise, cannot end soon enough.

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