For years the Wild has been hoping that the NHL would realign the divisions so that the team could cut down on its extensive travel to the West Coast and Canada and play more of its former rivals in the Midwest. That finally starts this year with the Wild moving to the Central Division.
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher was asked how competitive he believes the new Central Division will be. “There are some very good teams in the division,” he said. “Competitively it’s going to be a good challenge for us. Chicago, the defending Stanley Cup champions, is in our division, the St. Louis Blues were arguably as good as anybody during the regular season last year and look poised to be a top team again this year.”
He also pointed out the historical context: “Geographically it’s great because from a historical standpoint, it’s a lot of the old teams that the North Stars used to play against and it’s going to mean a lot less travel for us. We’re really excited about it.”
• It was impressive to see the Gophers basketball coaching staff land Josh Martin as their first recruit for the class of 2014. Richard Pitino was able to get the three-star recruit from Seattle to commit to the Gophers despite offers from Washington, Washington State and other major West Coast programs such as Gonzaga, California and UCLA. Martin, a 6-8 power forward, averaged 11.8 points and 8.2 rebounds last year at Bothell High School.
• The 2014 Timberwolves Shootout will happen Jan. 4 before the Wolves’ games against Oklahoma City. Local teams competing will be Apple Valley, DeLaSalle, Lakeville North, Grand Rapids and Cretin-Derham Hall, so fans can get a glimpse of high-profile recruits such as Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones, DeLaSalle forward Reid Travis and Lakeville North guard J.P. Macura.
• Everett Williams, a two-star linebacker from Mansfield (Texas) Legacy, recently became the seventh commitment for the class of 2014 for Jerry Kill and the Gophers. But Williams is not only a standout player. In a recent interview with GopherHole.com, he said he’s carrying a 3.9 GPA and scored 1,490 on his SAT.
• With the news that author Tom Clancy died Wednesday, I was remembering his failed bid to purchase the Vikings in 1998. Clancy was flying into town to be named the new team owner, but questions about his finances put the news conference on hold. Eventually Clancy’s bid was rejected and Red McCombs bought the team.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org