Jon Marthaler bakes up a batch of delicious links just for you. Other times, you can find him here and here. Jon?


Happy Saturday! Today is, of course, Hockey Day Minnesota, the now-annual celebration of local hockey (and excuse to play high school games outdoors). I've always liked this event, because it feeds into the "State of Hockey" marketing that the Wild created a decade ago. It may not apply to the entire state, but it's nice to have one thing that's different about our state. So I encourage you: sit down and watch some outdoor hockey this morning. Head down to your local arena to catch a game tonight. Be a Minnesotan; be part of our tradition. It's Hockey Day!

A few thoughts and some good reading for you:

*We start with hockey - of course - and the story of how Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke became Canada's leading advocate for gay athletes. It's a really touching story, and heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. And while we're talking hockey, I really enjoyed Michael Russo's profile on Andrew Brunette on the occasion of Bruno's 1000th NHL game. Brunette truly has to be in the running for "best NHL player ever that couldn't beat most goalies in a footrace."

*While we're in profile mode: why not tackle SI's profile of Jake Plummer, the man who did what we'd all like to believe we could do, and walked away before he'd stayed too long. (Including bonus education about the game of handball!)

*Via commenter fasolamatt is this week's fasolalink: some guidance on when to use substitutes in a soccer match. Given that fasolamatt has a long-lost twin that referees state soccer matches, this seems oddly appropriate.

*We have some proof that things are looking up for the Timberwolves: the team's TV ratings are up 86 percent, second in the NBA to only Miami. Kevin Love continues to work his magic, even through the television screen.

*And finally: I think I need to check out this Onion SportsDome show on Comedy Central, because this is truly inspired genius. It's the "Kwame Brown Lottery," a (fake, of course) look at which team has to be saddled with the failed former #1 draft pick. (Hey, at least the Wolves finally won one of these things.)

That's enough for me. Enjoy the weekend, and the warm weather. You've earned them both.

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