The Herbert A. (Herb) Fritch Family Foundation has increased to $2.9 million its contribution to the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.

Herb Fritch, the majority owner of the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League, contributed $1 million in 2010 and the latest gift allows the $18 million multi-use facility to pay down most of its remaining debt.

Fritch, a Duluth native who resides in Nashville, Tenn., founded a number of successful health insurance ventures, including HealthSpring, Inc.

“I credit much of my success in business today to the leadership skills developed on the playgrounds, baseball fields, and gymnasiums of Duluth; to dear parents who ‘coached’ by example and were always present," Fritch said in a prepared statement. "It is a privilege to help make those opportunities and support available to present and future generations of Duluth’s children.”


Essentia Health, St. Luke’s and the University of Minnesota Medical School are working together to ensure the long-term health of family practice care in the Northland through the Duluth Family Practice Center (DFPC). In recent years, the DFPC has been facing increasing regulatory and financial pressures, especially in the area of state funding cuts to medical education.

Therefore, the DFPC Board of Directors has engaged Essentia Health to begin a new relationship with the DFPC and its Family Medicine Residency Program. As of July 1, Essentia is managing both the DFPC clinic operations and physician training program.

“When this program needed additional support, we were happy to help,” said Dr. Daniel Nikcevich, President of Essentia Health’s East Region. “It’s important that we work together to sustain and grow this valuable resource.”

For more than three decades, the DFPC has received funding and support from Essentia Health, St. Luke’s and the University of Minnesota Medical School. The organizations have been active in helping to train family medicine physicians interested in rural medical practice, and have supported the clinic where thousands of Twin Ports residents receive primary care.

With family practice physicians in short supply nationwide, Dr. Nikcevich said it’s vital to keep this program open.

“Many of the physicians who are trained at the Duluth Family Practice Center choose to stay and practice in our region,” he said.

Under the new arrangement, Essentia Health won’t acquire the DFPC but will only manage the day-to-day operations. As part of its mission to develop the rural primary care workforce, the Essentia Institute of Rural Health will provide oversight of the educational component in collaboration with the U of M.

Funding and full participation in the Duluth Family Practice Center and its Family Medicine Residency Program will continue from Essentia, St. Luke’s and the U of M.


St. Louis Blues forward Jamie Langenbrunner of Cloquet and defenseman Cade Fairchild of Duluth will participate in a pro-college exhibition game on Friday, July 13 in Duluth. Brothers Jack (Minnesota Duluth) and Chris (Boston University) Connolly will also compete, before leaving town a couple days later to begin their professional careers in Sweden and Germany, respectively. Los Angeles Kings' 2010 first-round draft choice Derek Forbort (North Dakota) is questionable.

Duluth East defenseman Phil Beaulieu, one of the team's top players a year ago, has been moved to his natural forward position for his junior season. He's the best pure sniper prospect from Duluth since former Greyhounds super goal-collector Dave Spehar, only bigger and with a much heavier shot. I'm shocked that Division I recruiters aren't camped outside Beaulieu's house, 24/7. I've watched all the northeastern Minnesota elite prep snipers during my nearly 40-year, full-time regional sportswriting career, including Langenbrunner, Mark Pavelich, Corey Millen, Derek Plante, Phil Hoene and Jack Connolly, among many others. Beaulieu has big-time scoring ability, including a NHL-caliber shot, and the hands and size to be one of the best-ever offensive players in northeastern Minnesota prep hockey history. A comparable, at the same age: Brett Hull. Believe it. Watch Beaulieu lead the Greyhounds in goals-scored in 2012-13, with senior defenseman Meirs Moore leading in total points.


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