Game of the week: 7pm today (FSN): Wild at Chicago
For years, the NHL tried various ways to promote old-school, 1980s-style rivalries in the league. They tried weekend series, kind of like college hockey; they tried making divisional opponents play each other roughly 22 times each per year.
All this led to was fifty million Calgary-Edmonton-Vancouver road trips for the Wild, with rivalries nowhere to be seen -- except for Vancouver, a rivalry bred by the playoffs. And Colorado, a rivalry bred by the playoffs.
You can, of course, see a theme developing here. Rivalries happen because of the playoffs, and because of proximity, and not just from sheer repetition. It's like baseball trying to set up the Padres and the Mariners as an interleague series; no matter how many times MLB makes the teams play six games every year, Seattle and San Diego will never see each other as rivals. It just won't happen.
The NHL has finally figured this out. Let the Central Division rivalries begin anew -- starting tonight, when the Wild visit Chicago for the first time this year, a series that happens to be a rematch of a playoff series from last year, and a rematch of a thousand North Stars-Blackhawks battles.
I couldn't be more excited. Let's get this thing going again. And in conclusion: Secord sucks.
What else to watch this weekend
6:30pm today, 7pm Sunday (FOX): World Series: Listen. Pretty soon there's going to be no baseball and 10 feet of snow on the ground. Take some time out to enjoy there being baseball and no feet of snow on the ground.
7pm today (ESPN): #12 UCLA at #3 Oregon. Somebody may slow Oregon down this year. It could, theoretically, be UCLA. In the soon-to-end extended playoff of college football, we need to keep our eyes open now, because Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State have playoff games every week.
8:25am Sunday (NBCSN): Manchester City vs Chelsea. Friend of the blog Dana Wessel insists that these are the Premier League's two best teams, making this one of the marquee games of the season. Given that Chelsea is involved, it'll probably be a dull 0-0 draw, but you never know.
1pm Sunday (FSN): Gophers vs. Boston College. Something about afternoon hockey usually gets the Mariucci Arena crowd going, and Sunday's game -- after Friday's 3-3 tie between the #1 and #5 teams in the nation -- should be a barn-burner.
What to read this weekend
If you missed Mike Bates at SB Nation absolutely destroying the Twins, their front office, and really everything the franchise stands for, then I encourage you to take time out and read it, because unfortunately he is right about everything and the truth hurts.