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Minnesota sports, as seen elsewhere

Paul Martin hits another NHL playoff milestone

Minnesota native Paul Martin played his 100th career NHL playoff game last week.

The Elk River-product and Gophers alum has help the San Jose Sharks build a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals. The defenseman has an assist in each of the last two games and five throughout the postseason, adding to his career playoff totals of 40 assists and 45 points. He’s among the top three shot blockers this postseason with 45.

Martin is one of several Minnesotans or former standouts from the state’s Division 1 hockey programs still competing for the Stanley Cup. Here’s a quick look at some of the remaining bunch and how they’ve fared through three rounds of the postseason:

Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh, forward
Minnesota connection: Gophers alum
Kessel’s 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) are the sixth-most this postseason and average out to 1.06 points per game.

Matt Cullen, Pittsburgh, forward
Minnesota connection: Moorhead native and St. Cloud State alum
Cullen has four goals and two assists this postseason.

David Backes, St. Louis, forward
Minnesota connection: Minneapolis native and Minnesota State Mankato alum
Backes’ 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) are ranked 11th among top postseason scorers.

Justin Braun, San Jose, defenseman
Minnesota connection: St. Paul native
Braun has four assists,  a plus-7 rating, and is among the top six shot blockers with 35.

Matt Tennyson, San Jose, defenseman
Minnesota connection: Minneapolis native
Tennyson has yet to play in a game this postseason.

Brent Burns, San Jose, defenseman
Minnesota connection: Former Wild first-round pick (20th overall)
Burns leads all defenseman in scoring this postseason and is tied for third overall with 19 points (six goals, 13 assists). He also has a plus-4 rating and 32 blocked shots.

J.T. Brown, Tampa Bay, forward
Minnesota connection: Grew up in Rosemount and Minnesota Duluth alum
Brown has two assists in seven games and 77-plus minutes of ice time.

Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay, forward
Minnesota connection: Minnesota Duluth alum
Garrison has seven points (one goals, six assists) and a plus-4 rating in 15 games played. 

Could the Wolves benefit from 'Global Ambassador' like Drake?

If you have followed any part of the Toronto Raptors’ playoff run then you most likely heard some mention of Drake, the Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, producer … you get it.

The 29-year-old music mogul has been labeled the “Global Ambassador” for the NBA franchise and has courtside season tickets where he's often seen during TV broadcasts. He was spotlighted Monday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals jawing at LeBron James and Kyrie Irving during Toronto’s 105-99 victory over Cleveland to even the series 2-2.

Drake grew up in Toronto and continues to use his global platform to “Preach the gospel that is Toronto. I just wanna let you know that I’m extremely excited to finally be a part of the team that I grew up as a fan of, a die-hard fan of, like everyone else from this city,” he said at a 2013 press conference where he was officially given his ambassador title.

This passion has been infused into Drake's music and public appearances, and the Raptors have surely benefited.

This raises the question, would the Timberwolves benefit from their own “Global Ambassador” and who would it be?

The argument within entertainment circles is that only the teams without a bona-fide superstar need ambassadors. The Raptors have great talent in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but they aren't Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry or LeBron. While the Wolves have a couple stars in the making with back-to-back Rookie of the Year winners Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, a little extra help to promote the brand nationally wouldn’t hurt.

The late megastar Prince would have been the obvious choice. His audience was global and he was a proud Minnesotan. He occasionally attended Wolves games and participated in the local sports scene.

Prince became an ambassador of sorts for the Lynx after hosting a private concert for the team following last season's WNBA championship. He often attended Lynx games and was in attendance for last year’s final game. He also wrote a song for the Vikings titled “Purple and Gold.”

Jesse “The Body” Ventura, the one-time pro wrestler and the state’s former Governor, could be the muscle the Wolves need to boost their national brand. He was known as being a basketball fan during his time in Minnesota and enjoyed a courtside presence like Drake.

Bob Dylan grew up in Hibbing, Minn., and even briefly enrolled at the University of Minnesota. The music star turned 75 Tuesday and could settle into retirement in courtside seats at Target Center.

The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, the award-winning American filmmakers, were raised in St. Louis Park and often pay homage to their homeland in their work.

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater could be a candidate, pending his ability to mature into one of the top QBs int he game. The presence of an NFL star in the NBA scene would surely help the Wolves’ exposure.

Other possible candidates: Chris Pratt, one of the hottest young actors in Hollywood, was born in Virginia, Minn. Actor Vince Vaughn was born in Minneapolis before being raised in Illinois. Jessica Biel, the actress and wife of music star Justin Timberlake, is from Ely, Minn. If she could relocate the family to the Twin Cities, Timberlake is known as being a big basketball fan. Actor Josh Hartnett grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from South High School. Actress Winona Ryder was named after a Minnesota city. American rock band The Hold Steady are led by Minnesota-raised Craig Finn. Their lyrics often feature characters based in Minneapolis and they have played at Twins games.

Who would you recommend to be the Wolves’ “Global Ambassador?”
 

 

2 gave us 2...we'll take it ��

A photo posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on