Blog Post by: Michael Rand
- November 9, 2011 - 12:49 PM
Each week commenter Rocket writes about hockey because we tend to neglect it (even though that's not really true anymore). This week, he pieces together some pretty glorious NHL fiction. Rocket?
RandBall’s seething hatred of hockey and inexplicable, innate desire to make grandiose, baseless predictions about the impending success of the local cagers at regular and predictable intervals has reduced him to writing fake news stories about a terrible basketball team that – thanks to a lockout that makes everybody involved look incredibly petty, small-minded, and asinine – is not even playing right now. This madness must end (join the revolution at #OccupyRandBall). But until that day, we must fight fire with fire. To that end here is a fake news story about the Minnesota Wild facing off against the Minnesota North Stars:
(Proprietor disclaimer: Again, this is very, very fake. Just so we're clear).
The battle for the hearts and minds of Minnesota pro hockey fans came to an indeterminate conclusion with the current franchise declaring victory while the former franchise was left wondering why the new team decided to run a practice after the game.
The Minnesota North Stars reunited last night to play the Minnesota Wild in a much-anticipated matchup that many thought would never happen. In fact, many predicted it could not happen. Just as recently as last week University of Minnesota engineering professor Dr. Buzz Killjoy stated, “The laws of physics and well as our experience on this planet of the space-time continuum will prevent such a game from ever happening.”
Don’t tell that to the North Stars or the Wild, though. “Hockey isn’t about string theory or absolute versus relative time or even a consistent, logistical narrative,” said Wild coach Jacques Lemaire. “It’s about passion and the will to win.”
Both teams displayed flashes of passion and inspired play but also looked mediocre for much of the time, if not downright boring. The night began with an excited crowd packing the stands for this once-in-a-lifetime matchup. But as the game got muddled at center ice, with sloppy play bogged further down by the neutral zone trap, the fans’ considerable patience began wearing thin. As the game wore on the building looked half empty, with many spectators headed toward Mariucci Arena or a local high school rink.
Neal Broten began the scoring early in the first with a nifty backhand past Manny Fernandez. Broten also assisted on the third of the North Stars three goals on the night in what they assumed was a 3-3 tie. “If you look back, I think I played pretty well,” said Broten. “But I just can’t shake this feeling that there’s a lot of folks that think I didn’t really fulfill my potential.”
The Wild tied the score just three minutes later when Marian Gaborik picked off a pass headed to the point, streaked down the ice at break neck speed, and made a clever move to put the puck past North Stars’ netminder Kari Takko on the breakaway. After celebrating the goal with his teammates, Gaborik limped off the ice with an apparent groin injury and did not return to the game.
Wild teammate Dany Heatley, who had a goal and an assist of his own on the night, was effusive with praise for Gaborik. “I’ve always admired Gabby,” said Heatley. “He knows how to leave an organization with class.”
Dubbed the “’Sota Cup” by lazy sportswriters who think puns are clever, the contest did get testy late in the second period. North Stars enforcer Shane Churla got in several scraps and was eventually tossed out of the game. An unrepentant Churla offered explanations for every person that he punched during the contest. Cal Clutterbuck: “He’s a pest”; Guillaume Latendresse: “His name is girly”; a linesman: “The stupid idiot is blind, and stupid”; a beer vendor: “Who the [redacted] charges that much for a beer at a hockey game?”; his own mother: “She knows why.”
Both teams traded goals in each period, leading to a 3-3 tie at the end of regulation and exciting overtime period where the North Stars had the better of the chances because the Wild only played with four skaters. Despite this advantage the North Stars could not capitalize and after the five-minute session they headed toward their locker room.
The Wild, however, remained on the ice and competed in a shootout against an empty net, which they won 2-0. “Even I had a goal in that one,” said Wild forward Alexandre Daigle. “And so did Cam Barker. But not James Sheppard.”
Confusion reigned after the shootout. The Wild declared victory in the ‘Sota Cup and stated that they were the rightful Minnesota franchise, often drifting into a metaphysical diatribe about a heretofore unknown plane of existence known as the “state of hockey.” The North Stars refused to acknowledge the Wild’s claim, however, arguing that the only thing that every hockey fan in Minnesota, regardless of collegiate or high school affiliation, could agree on a firm opinion about Norm Green. Both teams left the arena angry and without a clear resolution, leaving many to wonder if this game was just the elaborate fantasy of an overly-educated, slightly deranged hockey fan