Minnesota Wild

Sat, 14 Mar 2009 20:12

History of Minnesota Wild

Information about NHL team Minnesota Wild.

The Minnesota Wild often called as the “wild” is based in Saint Paul, Minnesota as a professional ice hockey team. They are currently players of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Hockey League. After the 1993 season, the Minnesota North Stars departed and, for seven years, the Twin Cities was without an NHL team. On June 25, 1997, an expansion franchise was awarded and announced by the NHL to Minnesota to begin playing for the 2000-20001 season.  The new NHL franchise teams for Minnesota are the White Bears, Wild, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, Freeze, and Blue Ox. The Chief Executive Officer of the Minnesota team was Jac Sperling, and Brian Skluzacek was named Chief Financial Officer.

The unveiling occurred in front of Aldrich Arena and the team was officially named the Wild. The Minnesota Wild Master Card from First USA was the first sponsorship agreement with the Minnesota Wild. The State of Minnesota agreed in legislation to fund $65 million of the $130 million project costs for Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The deconstruction of the Saint Paul Civic Center began soon thereafter and the Xcel Energy Center design was announced.

A 26-year partnership agreement with the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission was announced by the Minnesota Wild. The first partnership of its kind between a public amateur sports organization and a private professional sports team was the Minnesota Wild-MASC partnership. The executive vice president or general manager of Minnesota Wild was Doug Risebrough and the Xcel Energy Center was finished and ready for use.

In the year 2000-2001, the Minnesota Wild's first season officially started. The Wild’s first-ever head coach was named to Jacques Lemaire and the team picked Marian Gaborik third overall in Round 1 of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The team was not very victorious on the ice, but showed promise for future seasons. The first visit of the Dallas Stars was the most interesting game of the year, which had formerly played in Minnesota as the Minnesota North Stars. In 1993, The Wild rode an emotional record crowd of over 18,000 to a 6-0 shutout in Dallas' first regular season game in Minnesota since a neutral-site game.

2001- 2002 NHL seasons started and by getting at least 1 point in their first 7 games, the Wild would get off to a strong start. But then The Wild finished in last place again with a record of 26-35-12-9. Along the way, there were signs the Wild were improving as Andrew Brunette led the team in scoring with 69 points and with no sophomore slump second-year speedster Gaborik had a solid season with 30 goals.

The Wild, in their first ever playoff appearance, made it all the way to the Finals in the Western Conference year 2002-2003 NHL season, and Gaborik spent much of the season vying for the league scoring crown, and before being swept 4-0 by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The Wild had beaten the favored and third-seeded Colorado Avalanche, previously, in the first round in seven games, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit, and winning both Games 6 and 7 in overtime. Brunette scored the series-clinching goal. In the Western Conference semifinals, the fourth-seeded Vancouver Canucks was defeated by the Wild, again in seven games, and again after being down 3-1 in a series. During that time, the first team in playoff history to capture a seven-game series twice was team Wild after facing elimination during Game 5.

When the 2003-2004 seasons started, the Wild was short-handed with both Pascal Dupuis and Gaborik holding out. The Wild finally got their two young star left-wingers signed but both struggled to get back into game shape, after struggling in the first month, through much of November. In a deep problem, the Wild could not relax into the playoffs despite finishing the season strong with wins in 5 of their last 6 games as they finished last in the competitive Northwest Division with a record of 30-29-20-3. Despite the problem, the Wild began to gear up for the future, trading away several of their older players including Brad Bombardir and Jim Dowd who were a part of the franchise from the beginning.

During the 2004-2005 season, the game was cancelled due to lockout. In that time, Sergei Zholtok a former Wild player died from a heart condition during a game in Europe. Zholtok died in the arms of Minnesotan and former Wild player Darby Hendrickson.

After the lockout, in the Northwest Division the Minnesota Wild finished in last place, eight points behind Vancouver, along the way a new franchise record by Gaborik was set for goals in a season with 38 points, and Brian Rolston set a new highest point total by a Wild player in a season with 76 points. When Roloson was traded to Edmonton for a first round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the goaltender controversy between Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson ended.

The Wild signed veteran free agents Mark Parrish, Kim Johnsson, Keith Carney, and Branko Radivojevic. They traded the 17th overall pick and prospect Patrick O'Sullivan to the Los Angeles Kings for veteran Slovak Pavol Demitra, on the day of the NHL Entry Draft. The starting goalie for the Wild was Niklas Bäckström after previous starter Manny Fernandez sprained his knee on Jan. 20. Fernandez played for the first time since the sprain on Tuesday, March 6th and was removed after the three goals in two periods in the Wild's 3-0 loss to San Jose. Brought up from the Wild's minor-league affiliate, the Houston Aeros was Josh Harding, when Fernandez was hurt, and remained on Minnesota's roster for the whole of the season as the backup goalie. In January 2007, All-Star winger, Marian Gaborik returned from a groin injury and made an immediate impact, bringing a new spark to a lacking offense.

In the 2007 playoffs, the second time in team history the Wild made it, but eventually, the Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks eliminated them in the opening round. Notably, in the Wild’s first playoff year, the same Anaheim franchise eliminated them, in the conference finals, in 2003.

The Wild broke numerous franchise records including most goals and points in a season like Marian Gaborik with 42 goals and 83 points. Also, Jacques Lemaire recorded his 500th career coaching win and a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on April 3, 2008, the Wild clinched their first ever Northwest Division title. As in the 2003 playoffs, they faced Colorado in the first round as 6th and 3rd seed, but this time the rules were reversed, as the Wild held home-ice advantage. However, being ousted in six games by the Avalanche, Minnesota came up short in winning the game.

During the 2008 off-season, the Wild re-acquired Andrew Brunette from the Avalanche, as well as trading for defenseman Marek Zidlicky. The Wild also signed free agents Owen Nolan and Antti Miettinen to multi-year deals.

Minnesota Sports & Entertainment owned The Minnesota Wild, a limited partnership formed by former majority owner Bob Naegele Jr. of Naegele Sports, LLC in 1997. On April 10, 2008, The NHL’s Board of Governors officially approved Craig Leipold’s purchase of Minnesota Sports & Entertainment.