Old habits are hard to break. My preference when writing columns off night games is still to write an "early column'' to fill the hole for the first print edition, then to rewrite after the game for the later edition. We used to call these the "state'' and "metro.'' I don't know if we even have names for them anymore.

My credo for the early columns has been this: "You don't need an idea for the 'early.' You merely need a thought.''

I followed that to the letter on Tuesday night. I was at the X for the Wild-Blackhawks game, there was nothing going in the first period to provide inspiration, so I decided to kick around the fact it looks like the Wild's AHL team will be moving from Houston to Des Moines.

It's a decision that belongs to the Wild, since it owns the club, so I went with Iowa now being a rehabilitation site for Minnesota ... for Royce White (however briefly), for the Twins and their new Class A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, and now for the Wild in Des Moines.

Hey, I told you it was a thought, not an idea, and I won't bore anyone reading online with the entire space filler. But I did find this interesting when researching Des Moines' history in the AHL, so we'll start there:

This would be the return of the AHL to Des Moines after a four-year absence.

What got me all in a tizzy when looking up Des Moines’ previous pro hockey history was this:

The AHL came to the city in 2005 in the form of the Iowa Stars. It was a resurrection of a franchise called the Louisville Panthers.

And the owners were Dallas businessman Bob Schegel and … are you ready? Howard Baldwin.

Yes, the well-nicknamed Howie the Hairdo, the gentleman who was going to sweep into town and buy the North Stars from the Gund brothers in 1991. Howie’s wife Karen was already mentioning uniform designs that would make the Stars even more dashing.

The Baldwins had big ideas. What they didn’t have was big money. Norm Green, a Canadian real estate developer, came in as a partner … and soon he owned the team.

We soon will be marking the 20th anniversary of Norm and the North Stars’ departure for Dallas.

Howie the Hairdo was next seen making a deal to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins, with very little of his own money. He kept deferring money to star player Mario Lemieux until Mario wound up in control of the team.

And there it was in the info on Des Moines andf the AHL:

Baldwin was co-owner of the franchise starting in 2005. After the 2007-08 season, Dallas gave up its affiliation and set sights on having an AHL team (the Texas Stars) in Cedar Park, Tex.

The Des Moines franchise lasted one more season: as the Iowa Chops. According to Wikipedia, the new name included a logo featuring a “vicious boar’s head in the team colors of crimson, grey and black.’’

The Stars and the Chops are probably out as potential nicknames for a Wild farm club. Maybe the Minnesota executives could fess up to what I’ve always suspected was the fur-bearing animal on the front of the Wild sweaters and call the new farm club the Iowa Weasels.





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