Dismal end to Wild's decade forces fans to review options

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2011 - 12:27 AM

This will be the third consecutive season in which the Wild has missed the playoffs. And it will be eight full years since Jacques Lemaire’s underdogs made their run to the Western Conference finals.

hide

The Woo-Man -- Wild fan Todd Robideau of Excelsior -- misses the inspirational play (and video clip) of former Wild player Wes Walz (left).

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Wild is eight games from the conclusion of its 10th season in Minnesota. This decade of NHL hockey has taken 11 years, for the 2004-05 season was wiped out with the owners' lockout.

This is the sixth season since the NHL returned with 4-on-4 overtimes, shootouts and a point system intended to convince the fans of even subpar teams that their lads were winning more often than they lost.

The Wild has been in two playoff series in that time -- a five-game elimination vs. eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim in 2007 and a six-game upset loss to Colorado in 2008.

This will be the third consecutive season in which the Wild has missed the playoffs. And it will be eight full years since Jacques Lemaire's underdogs made their run to the Western Conference finals.

Those were wonderful weeks for the Woo-Man and his pals in the lower region of Sections 110-111 -- enough so that he continues to write the checks to cover the pair of $69-per-game season tickets.

The Woo-Man is Todd Robideau of Excelsior, and he earned the nickname while performing what he considered a public service to Wild fans.

Wes Walz was an original Wild player in 2000 and stayed until his retirement in the fall of 2007.

"When we won, there would be the Wild anthem, and then there would be a video clip of Wes on the scoreboard, coming out of the locker room and shouting, 'Woo, that's Wild hockey,'" Robideau said.

"Then, Wes retired, and the Wild decided to stop showing that clip. I said, 'No way. We're going to have our woo.' So, when we win, I let out a 'woo' that you can hear all over the building.''

There have been seasons when Robideau battled the Interstate 94 mess to attend every game. He missed a couple this season.

"I'm talking to a couple of guys about maybe splitting my tickets next season," he said Tuesday. "I've never done that before.''

The Woo-Man shook his head forlornly and said: "You're disappointed at where it is after 10 seasons. There isn't much cap room, and there's very little in draft picks. It's hard to see how it gets better.''

The Woo-Man has no trouble assessing the blame.

"Doug Risebrough,'' he said. "I don't know how many times I put that in writing with my season-ticket renewal. I didn't understand how someone with that many bad draft choices, somebody that let [Marian] Gaborik and [Brian] Rolston leave without getting anything back ... how he still had a job.''

Risebrough was fired as the hockey boss by owner Craig Leipold in April 2009. Two years later, new GM Chuck Fletcher still has much work to do to fill the talent gap he inherited.

"We don't have any goal scorers, and we're at the cap limit,'' Gary Lane of Woodbury said. "If you're running a hockey team that's in that situation, you should be embarrassed.

"This is a team stuck with too many bad contracts. I mean, look at [Pierre-Marc] Bouchard. The Wild tried to trade him and couldn't find any takers. So, they gave him a contract for $4 million a year.

"And Eric Nystrom -- you bring him in and halfway through the season, he has one goal ... an empty-netter. I thought Fletcher would be the answer, but you see Nystrom and have to wonder about him, too."

Jackie Lane, Gary's wife, said: "We've had these tickets for 10 years ... started at $4,400 and it's now $6,000. And the team is getting worse, not getting better.''

Rich Swanson from Rogers has split season tickets since the arrival of the Wild. He has a kinder view of things.

"I think they started to find some stability this season,'' he said. "I like the way [Cal] Clutterbuck plays, [Mikko] Koivu plays. I saw improvement this season. We'll be back [with season tickets] next year, no doubt.''

Nearby, Gary Lane was saying he will write the check for season tickets one more time.

"If it doesn't get better ... we could use that $6,000 to go to the Caribbean,'' he said.

To which wife Jackie took a sip of a pregame beverage and said: "I'd rather go to the Caribbean.''

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. • preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 92 4th Qtr 2:38
Miami 108
LA Clippers 102 4th Qtr 2:00
Minnesota 99
New Orleans 71 3rd Qtr 0:49
Dallas 78
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 0 3rd Prd
Chicago 4
Montreal 0 1st Prd 11:31
San Jose 1
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 1st OT 0:30
Howard 58
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 56 2nd Half 2:12
Savannah State 45
Texas Southern 58 2nd Half 9:14
Alabama A&M 51
Prairie View 42 2nd Half 13:36
Alabama State 38
Oklahoma 48 2nd Half 14:16
Iowa State 36
Grambling St 48 2nd Half 8:57
Miss Valley St 41
Boston College 52 2nd Half 12:56
Virginia Tech 36
Jackson State 29 1st Half 1:07
Ark-Pine Bluff 34
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
UCF 57 FINAL
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
SMU 60 FINAL
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the hockey season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close