We put a bow on 2015 on Thursday, fully realizing that while it was a year filled with positive achievements it was also a year in which several of the biggest local stories unfortunately involved retirement, scandal or — the worst — death. On the first day of the new year, let’s start unwrapping 2016 to see what we think lies ahead. In no particular order, here are the top 10 stories to watch for in the next 366 days (yes, it’s a leap year):

Hazeltine hosts Ryder Cup: The golf course in Chaska has acquitted itself quite nicely in hosting major events, including the PGA Championship in both 2002 and 2009. The Ryder Cup, which runs Sept. 30-Oct. 2, is an entirely different kind of spectacle. If every hole in a major is important, every hole in the match play Ryder Cup is critical. This figures to be a wonderful buildup with three days of dramatic theater. Let’s all hope it all comes down to a big finish on Sunday.

Can the Twins take the next step? In his first season as manager, Paul Molitor led the Twins to an 83-79 record and had the team in playoff contention until the final weekend. That served to reinvigorate a fan base that had plenty of reason to complain about or — worse — ignore the Twins for the four previous seasons. It also left them wanting more from the Twins and their young core, led by slugger Miguel Sano. Was last year a blip on the radar or the start of something big? We’ll start to find out soon.

Can the Wild get deeper into the postseason? Fans these days seem to want one of two things: immediate dramatically positive results or a complete makeover that offers tremendous hope for the long-term future. The Wild, however, is somewhere in between as the major men’s pro team in this market that is most suited to win now but still has questions. Chicago has been the nemesis three seasons in a row. Whether it’s the Blackhawks or someone else, the Wild — assuming it makes the playoffs again — will have to beat good teams to advance deeper than the second round.

U.S. Bank Stadium opens this summer: Regardless of what happens with the rest of this season, one thing is certain: The Vikings will move into their billion-dollar football palace in 2016 with plenty of momentum. U.S. Bank Stadium will be big and shiny. The Vikings will hope their play matches it.

What are the Timberwolves’ long-term plans at head coach and in the front office? The untimely death of Flip Saunders in October left a gaping hole in the heart of Minnesota basketball. More specifically, it left two big unanswered questions: What will the Wolves do long-term to replace Saunders as both president of basketball operations and head coach? Are Milt Newton and Sam Mitchell the answers? We should learn more after this season.

Will the Vikings make a playoff run? Minnesota doesn’t have a “signature” win in the Mike Zimmer Era. The Vikings could get one Sunday at Green Bay and any wins after that — in the playoffs — would certainly count as well. Until then, though, there are still some “ifs” nagging at this team. A playoff run would put those questions to rest.

Is Tracy Claeys the long-term answer as Gophers football coach? Jerry Kill’s sudden retirement in October pushed Claeys into the spotlight as Gophers head coach, a position he gained on a permanent basis shortly thereafter. But he was given a three-year contract, which in reality is a one-year audition. If he takes advantage of a favorable schedule in 2016 and leads the Gophers to a strong bounceback year, the job could be his for a long time. If not, he very well could be gone.

Do the Lynx have another championship in them? Lynx players heard the whispers last season that they were getting old and that their time at the top had expired. Then they went out and won their third WNBA title in five seasons. With several Western Conference teams figuring to be improved in 2016, can the veteran Lynx hold off the competition and do it again?

Can the Gophers men’s basketball and men’s hockey programs regain their footing? Grousing about the Gophers football team’s sub-.500 season obscures how much the men’s hockey team and men’s basketball team have slipped. Hockey? Sure, the Gophers might win a weak Big Ten and get into the NCAA tournament, but they’re also 1-10 in their past 11 games against in-state foes. Basketball? Richard Pitino’s squad will be hard-pressed to win more than a handful of Big Ten games.

Can the Gophers women’s athletics programs continue their run of success? The news was hardly all bad for the Gophers in 2015. You just had to (often) look to the women’s programs for the success stories. Some of the big ones: Basketball? Made the NCAA tournament. Soccer and softball? Made the tourney and made some noise. Volleyball? Made the Final Four. Hockey? Won a national championship. Duplicating those feats in 2016 would be mighty impressive.