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Tuesday (The remaking of the Wild) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • July 5, 2011 - 9:29 AM

Is everyone tan, rested and ready for a short week? Can you count on at least two hands the number of times you either thought to yourself or said out loud Saturday-Monday, "Wow, it is so nice outside?"

Good. Because you're going to need your strength so you don't faint from the shock that we are about to deliver: we have something to say about the Minnesota Wild. Yes, it's crazy. You've noticed us over the years, when not writing about something weird, to skew towards baseball, football and basketball. But the Wild deserves it. At perhaps a very critical moment in its history, the Wild has remade itself in a hurry. Here are the things we think have happened by making two blockbuster trades in the past couple of weeks -- the most recent one to acquire former 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley -- that are exceedingly important:

*Energizing a fan base: The Wild already had its sellout streak end last year, which finished as another mediocre and uninspiring campaign. Nothing is a quicker death sentence for a team than fan apathy, and the Wild was headed there quickly. These two moves changed a lot of that discussion in a hurry and actually got people excited again.

*There are always going to be hard-core basketball fans and hard-core hockey fans. It's the casual fans that the Wild and Wolves fight for in coldest winter months. When the Timberwolves signed Ricky Rubio and drafted Derrick Williams, we could feel the swell building for a major shift in the casual fan. There were tons of people talking about the Wolves. They are young and potentially exciting. In a matter of two weeks, though, the Wild swung two deals, the NBA went spiraling into what could be a deep lockout, and the focus came right back to hockey at a critical time for both organizations.

*From a hockey standpoint, the moves make a lot of sense. It's not like Heatley is without baggage. It's not like giving up Brent Burns and Marty Havlat in the separate deals won't hurt. But the object of the game is scoring goals. The Wild has a much better chance of doing that now. Look at the team's forwards now and tell us you can't envision a far more potent set of lines given the trades and assuming the return to full health of other key players.  It's really not even close.

In short, give GM Chuck Fletcher a ton of credit for thinking big and being able to pull of deals that work on multiple levels.

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