The theory that the Wild drew a team of marginal strength in the first round of the NHL playoffs was confirmed soon thereafter, when Colorado played dead for the Detroit Red Wings and was swept in four games.

You would have to be a hardcore apologist for the St. Paul lads not to admit that the 2007-08 season rates as an abject failure after their elimination by the aged Avalanche.

The Red Wings confirmed that assessment in hasty fashion -- and also demonstrated that Colorado goalie Jose Theodore is not nearly as effective when you try to shoot the puck past him rather than the Wild strategy of trying to shoot it through him.

The stage was set for the Wild's early departure at the Feb. 26 trading deadline, when President/GM Doug Risebrough's only move was to bring in Chris Simon.

He played in 10 of 19 regular-season games and two of the six games against the Avalanche. He didn't have a goal or an assist, nor did he hit an opponent over the head with a stick.

That last fact could mean one of two things: A) Simon has learned his lesson; or B) He moves so slowly these days that he can't catch an opponent to goon him.

The start of the Wild's playoff flop was preceded by one day the announcement that the sale of the team by owner Bob Naegele to Craig Leipold and Philip Falcone had gained NHL approval.

Naegele's departure was greeted with great hoorays for his noble work as a Minnesota sports owner. He accepted this praise with giggles and grins, then returned home to Naples, Fla., with his huge profit.

The Naegele group paid $80 million for the expansion franchise, and also committed to paying one-third -- $45 million of the $135 million -- for the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild also was given a sweetheart lease to reap the non-hockey profits from the arena.

The Wild has claimed nothing but sellouts for seven seasons. The parent company, Minnesota Sports and Entertainment, doesn't publicly reveal its books, but the conversation in local business circles is that the hockey team's annual profits have approached $30 million.

We'll call that generous by 25 percent, and concede that Naegele's group lost money -- say, $10 million -- during the lockout season of 2004-05. There were also $20 million in startup costs. So, let's take a shot at this.

Naegele group's costs: $80 million, plus $45 million, plus $20 million, plus that $10 million loss, equals $155 million. Naegele group's profits: $260 million from Leipold and Falcone and $168 million for seven seasons of big profits equals $428 million.

That would mean Naegele cashed out with a profit of 276 percent after eight years of operation in a brand-new, publicly financed, high-revenue arena, to go to Florida to pay his personal taxes, and he's heroic, right?

Meantime, Carl Pohlad has been operating the Twins in the low-revenue Metrodome for 24 years. Pohlad's original investment in 1984 was $38 million, and that now stands at $150 million after more losing than profitable years in the Dome.

The Twins finally are getting their version of the X with a new ballpark in 2010. As with Naegele, Pohlad was supposed to pay for one-third of the actual stadium ($130 million of $390 million), but that already has been added to with $15 million to help with land cost overruns and $22 million for ballpark enhancements.

In order to get what's now a $412 million stadium (actual ballpark and extra land costs), the Pohlads are on the hook for $167 million, or 40.5 percent.

The Pohlads also have a covenant in their ballpark deal that if they sell the team in the first 10 years, the state gets a cut of the sale price. Naegele simply took his gigantic profit and ran back to Florida fewer than eight years after the first puck was dropped in St. Paul.

Yet, he's such a grand fellow, and those miserly Pohlads are taking advantage of us, even if they will have $327 million (or more) invested in keeping baseball in Minnesota by the time the new yard opens, and even if they did commit $152 million to Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan and Michael Cuddyer during this offseason.

Oh, and one more note: The Pohlads remain Minnesota taxpayers.

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. •