Plenty of Minnesota sports anniversaries and years are embedded in our collective sports minds. Merely mention 1987, 1991 or 1998, for example, and the Twins’ two World Series titles plus the Vikings’ 15-1 season spring immediately to mind. But what about some lesser-known anniversaries? We’re here to take a look back at some of those, in increments of five years, dating backward from 2013. Today: The 1982-83 North Stars — and five things you might have forgotten about that team.
1 The North Stars played 26 seasons in Minnesota. They twice advanced to the Stanley Cup Final while the franchise was here, losing both times. But they never had a better regular-season record than they did in 1982-83, when they won 40 games and had 96 points.
2 The season, though, was not without its turmoil. Coach Glen Sonmor, who took over during the 1978-79 season, resigned midway through the season to confront his alcohol addiction, something he has discussed at length publicly since that time. Murray Oliver took over and the North Stars went 18-12-7 under him to close out the regular season.
3 The North Stars opened the playoffs by defeating Toronto 3-1 in the best-of-five division semifinals, but they had to face division-winning Chicago in the best-of-seven next round. Trailing 2-1 in the series and facing a pivotal Game 4 at the Met Center, the North Stars fell 4-3 in overtime and ended up losing the series in five games. Symmetry: 30 years later, the Wild lost to the Blackhawks in five games.
4 Ready for some names from the past? That year’s team had incredibly balanced scoring with four players totaling between 75 and 77 points to lead the way and three more inching up into the 60s. The top four: Neal Broten, Bobby Smith, Tom McCarthy and Dino Ciccarelli. Don Beaupre and Gilles Meloche split the goaltending duties. It’s not possible to have two men who sound like they should be goalies based on their names more than those two.
5 Strangely enough, the team’s leading scorers in the playoffs were both defensemen: Brad Maxwell and Craig Hartsburg, who tied for the lead with 11 points in the team’s nine playoff games. Maxwell had five goals in the postseason after getting only 11 in the regular season.