We are three decades removed from what has to be considered the North Stars’ glory period in Bloomington. The North Stars won eight playoff series and had well over 300 goals four times in the five seasons from the fall of 1979 through the spring of 1984.
There is a faction of Minnesotans that still can work up nostalgic pangs for the North Stars. This was demonstrated when Bob Showers and Lou Nanne released the book, “Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories With Lou Nanne,” in 2008.
It was a robust seller, as I can confirm from the checks that Lou kept sending me as the result of a handshake deal to turn his 80,000 words of memories into roughly half that many.
Chopping down those yarns wasn’t easy. Sweet Lou from the Soo has an unlimited supply of great ones.
And yet, the 22nd anniversary of the North Stars’ final game at Met Center — April 13, 1993 — passed a couple of weeks ago with little note in these parts.
That’s because there is nothing to lament in the NHL franchise trade that took place in the Twin Cities at the end of the last century: the North Stars to Dallas, followed four years later by the announcement that St. Paul had been awarded an expansion team.
OK, there is one element of the trade to lament, and that’s the magnificent N with a star as a logo, compared with the weasel on the Wild sweater.
And Nordy, too. That gender-bending creature creeps me out when I see it in a corridor at the X.
Beyond that, objective observers would have to say our 2,738-day NHL gap — from the North Stars’ last game at the Met to the Wild’s first official game at the X (Oct. 11, 2000) — was worth the wait.
The North Stars had their moments, particularly in those early ’80s, when the Vikings were in decline and the Twins stunk, and they were scoring more than four goals and consistently filling Met Center.
The North Stars owned the town for stretches then, but they never owned it as the Wild does now. And the Stars never sold tickets night after night, game in and game out, as the Wild has done since it first dropped a puck in St. Paul 15 years ago.
The Timberwolves arrived as an expansion team in 1989. The honeymoon lasted three seasons, then the decline started.
I figured the Wild was good for a honeymoon twice that long, five or six seasons, based on this being more of an NHL than NBA market. I figured that not having a full appreciation for the genius of the Wild’s original brain trust: CEO Jac Sperling and President Tod Leiweke.
I was amused by the “State of Hockey” theme, the kid planting a flag at mid-ice before games, and a No. 1 in honor of the fans being the first Wild jersey retired.
“How long can this nonsense last?” I mumbled on early visits.
The answer is 15 years and counting.
From Day 1, Sperling, Leiweke and their marketing folks knew the audience to cultivate: young families in Woodbury.
We’re using the generic Woodbury, because it was young families in all of the Twin Cities suburbs, but Woodbury has become “land ahoy” for the Good Ship Wild.
The population of Woodbury when the North Stars left in 1993 was around 22,000. The current estimate is 67,365, but that was on Monday. It might be a couple hundred larger by now.
There are more people in Woodbury who own $200 authentic Wild jerseys than lived there when Norm Green took the North Stars to Dallas.
The Woodbury folks have to go past St. Paul to get to Minneapolis to attend a Wolves, Twins or Gophers game.
Why would they do that? The Wild is right there in our funky, wondrous second city of St. Paul, creating more excitement than we’ve had with a sports team since Brett Favre found Tracy Porter open over the middle early on a Sunday evening in January 2010.
In late March, I was walking above Kellogg Boulevard in the skyway, following two sets of parents and seven kids, ages 8 and below, with everyone in Wild jerseys, skipping, laughing, jabbering and one kid, maybe 4 and in his Parise No. 11, shouting repeatedly, “We’re gonna see the Wild.”
I had one thought: Woodbury.
They did it, Sperling and Leiweke and their successors. They created the WWs — the Woodbury Wild — and it’s a honeymoon that might never end.