Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where I can only assume you are reading this on your phone while boarding a plane to somewhere far away from here. Let’s get to it:
*It is April 11, and Minnesotans woke up to some very cold realities. The first is the weather, of course, which is just dumb. Sure, all this snow will be gone soon. But that doesn’t improve anyone’s mood now. I ran outside in shorts and a T-shirt Monday, by the way. Today it’s winter boots and the heavy coat.
But the other cold reality is a metaphor that has nothing to do with the stuff falling from the sky — even if it gets treated at times like the sky is falling.
After six consecutive seasons of mostly frustrating but also exciting entries for the Wild in the playoffs, and after the Wolves broke through finally last year to make the postseason, here it is April 11 and both their seasons are done.
We’ve known for a while that the Wolves were going to come up short, but their season finale Wednesday in Denver (fittingly another loss and another blown lead) drove the point home; the Wild’s slide made it seem likely until it was official not that long ago.
It punctuates a dramatic negative turnaround. In seasons that started in 2017 (some of which finished in that year, some that didn’t), the Lynx, Twins, Vikings, Wild and Wolves all made the playoffs.
In seasons that started in 2018, all but the Lynx missed the postseason — and even their trip there was just one game and fell short of the standard they had previously set. Throw Minnesota United’s two playoff misses in 2017 and 2018 into the mix — worthy, though sometimes tossed aside because their infancy in Major League Soccer negates any historical comparisons to the other five — and it’s been a rough year.
Historical proof: On this date one year ago, I tweeted:
That negative run won’t melt away as fast or easily as this snow, but at least this is true: No team that started its season in 2019 has missed the playoffs yet.
*Tyus Jones had an up-and-down season for the Wolves, and his future with the organization remains unclear as he enters the offseason as a restricted free agent. But one thing he did very well: take care of the ball. Jones had 327 assists and just 47 turnovers — an absurd 6.96 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The all-time record entering this year was 5.94 by Muggsy Bogues, though, the requirement for that list was a player had to average at least eight assists per game (Jones averaged 4.8).
*We are all Dirk Nowitzki. Seriously, I’m not sure if everyone appreciates this guy enough. What a career, and he seems set up to enjoy retirement.
*Hockey players are tough, Part 87,564,762: The Sharks’ Joe Pavelski took a slap shot OFF HIS FACE in Wednesday’s playoff win over Vegas. The puck deflected into the net. He lost teeth. And he returned to the game.