This was not a good month to be a sentimental Minnesota sports fan. Pardon the redundancy.

On Friday, the Vikings released Adam Thielen, who spent his entire life playing for football teams in Minnesota.

Friday also marked the 30th anniversary of the North Stars' move to Dallas, a reminder that many Minnesota fans had forgotten just how inept the team had been in the years before the move, except for that one improbable Stanley Cup run in 1991.

Earlier this week, the Vikings released popular linebacker Eric Kendricks. The previous week, the University of Minnesota ushered out Lindsay Whalen, the greatest winner in the history of our state.

At some point in their career, just about every talented young athlete will cock their head, scowl and say, "I guess it's just a business."

The rude responses would be: "What was your first clue? The billionaire owner trying to increase the value of the franchise to become a multibillionaire owner? The multibillion-dollar franchise? The high prices of tickets, concessions, parking and merchandise? The billion-dollar television contracts? The hundreds of millions spent on player contracts? The billion-dollar stadium? That you employ an agent or agency to get you top dollar and the best endorsements?''

The common response to the departure of a beloved athlete is sadness. Thielen was a great player. Whalen was perhaps the best ambassador ever for Minnesota sports. Kendricks was all class.

Once over the initial shock and despair, it's wise to remember that, in a business filled with short careers, these athletes all did just fine while employed in Minnesota.

Thielen made $65 million playing football and more on endorsements. He'll continue to be well-paid on another team. Had his top priority been remaining with the Vikings, he could have done so without missing any meals.

He is coming off his least productive full season since 2018. He may have been the Vikings' fourth receiving option this season, behind Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson and K.J. Osborn.

The Vikings had reason to cut his pay. He had reason to leave.

Kendricks made $45 million before he turned 31, and, like Thielen, he will find another football home.

The diplomacy of modern sports will allow both to return to the fold as proud former Vikings, just like John Randle, who finished his career with Seattle, and Cris Carter, who finished his career with Miami.

Whalen's case is different. To make good money as a women's basketball player, she had to compete year-round, earning her biggest checks overseas.

She did not make $45 million before turning 31, and, unlike Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle, I would have given her another year with the best recruiting class in Minnesota basketball history.

Maybe if she had an accomplished former Division I head coach on her bench, she would have succeeded.

Back to business: She lost too many games and drew too few fans, so Coyle felt obligated to move on.

The Vikings will say all of the right things about Thielen and Kendricks, who deserve praise for remarkable careers, but one thing we've learned from watching HBO's "Hard Knocks" is that NFL teams harbor little sentimentality within their meeting rooms.

The best way to run a pro sports team in a salary cap league into the ground is to keep players around because of intangibles or sentimentality. To do so is to build an old and inflexible team.

Thielen will be 33 when the 2023 season starts, and he seems increasingly prone to nagging injuries. He is no longer a big-money player. The Vikings save $6.41 million against the salary cap, combined with Kendricks' cap savings of $9.5 million.

The Vikings can save about $8 million by cutting or trading Dalvin Cook, and about $5 million by cutting linebacker Jordan Hicks.

Yes, it's a business. Feel sad about Thielen if you like. Just remember that if athletes were as sentimental as the average fan, they would take less money to stay in Minnesota.