Editor's note: This is an installment in a 10-part series asking "what if?" certain major events in Twin Cities sports history had turned out differently. This is purely an exercise in amusement. Nobody at the Star Tribune -- least of all the author -- has a DeLorean that goes 88 mph and has the ability to go back to change the past. Send any feedback or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sure, there is a tendency to romanticize old-time hockey. From everything we know, the North Stars were a dying product when Norm Green (boo!) stole the NHL from Minnesota and hauled it off to Texas. What if that hadn't happened? Well ...
Do the Stars still win a Stanley Cup in 1999? If so, the run we are on now -- 20 years without a championship or even an appearance in a final series/game in any of the four pro major sports -- is obliterated, and the general sports mood in the town (which skews between wild optimism that sets up for heartbreak and hard-boiled pessimism that creates a dark cloud over our teams) is changed.
WHAT OF THE X ...
Is Xcel Energy Center or a similar building ever constructed? Without the need to woo an expansion team, do leaders step up and build a new facility, or do the Stars -- playing in Met Center at the time of their move -- make a dash for the pretty new (at that time) Target Center at some point in their tenure? That has to be considered a strong possibility, particularly considering if the Winnipeg Jets moved here in the mid-1990s the best bet was that they were going to play in Target Center.
... AND ST. PAUL?
Without a new facility in downtown St. Paul, what does that city look like now? And with all four major pro teams potentially playing in downtown Minneapolis, that city looks different as well. But without construction of the Xcel Energy Center -- which broke the ice, so to speak, and showed this market what a great building could do for the atmosphere at a sporting event -- do we have Target Field right now?
MINUS THE WILD
And, of course, erase every memory that has ever existed of the Minnesota Wild. Marian Gaborik's five-goal game? Didn't happen. The run to the Western Conference Finals in 2003, and the lasting image of Andrew Brunette's stunned/ecstatic face after defeating Colorado? Also non- existent.