Friday, March 30, 2012

La réunion des étoiles du nord


As many of you know, I love the Minnesota North Stars.  I bought a jersey for $100.  Have a hat.  I’d even wear underwear if it was emblazoned with the North Stars logo – thong underwear.  I’m not ashamed.

The one thing that has consistently bothered me about the current professional hockey team in town, the Wild – well, besides the fact that they suck and their nickname is either an abstract concept or an adjective – is that the franchise seemed to want to distance themselves from their predecessor.  Although it’s understandable that they wanted to forge their own identity, I have felt they actively sought to erase any lingering memories of the N for fear of being compared unfavorably by hockey fans.

Well, either because the Wild are confident their decade-plus of existence has given them enough brand recognition that they can withstand judgments between them and the North Stars, the Wild need some good PR because they’ve absolutely blown chunks since being the best team in the league in early December, or because the Dallas Stars, aka The Bastard North Stars, finally wised up and realized they have no moral right to the name (I’m a bitter man; I so want this to be the reason), they turn their backs on the North Stars no more.

This weekend is the first time ever that the Minnesota Wild will formally recognize the North Stars.  Thursday’s first intermission ceremony honoring 37 former players was the centerpiece of the North Stars Alumni Reunion Weekend.  Any North Stars fan knows the names: Neal Broten, Brian Bellows, Don Beaupre, Dave Langevin, Scott Bjugstad, J.P. Parise, Gordie Roberts, Glen Sonmor, Tom Reid, Willi Plett, and the man I consider Mr. North Star because he remains such a popular figure in the State of Hockey, former player and North Stars General Manager Lou Nanne.

The impetus of this weekend comes from Minnesota NHL Alumni, a group consisting of hockey players from Minnesota or players who’ve played on Minnesota teams (including the St. Paul Fighting Saints) who now reside here.  Former North Stars got sentimental and decided to get the old group together.  Good for them for creating an event that’s been a long time coming, and credit also goes to the Wild for understanding that their season ticket holders found their love of hockey when they went to a North Stars game with their families.

Meanwhile, there’s this prick, Erin Bolen, from the blog Defending Big D.  The “D” stands for douche because he believes the history and legacy of the Minnesota North Stars belong to the Dallas Stars, and so when he heard about the weekend he basically laughed at it.

Two things.  First of all, we did not abandon the team, like Bolen says we did.  The owner of the time, Norm Green, was such an annoying son-of-a-bitch (who, by the way, also was fighting a sexual harassment case) that we couldn’t stand him bitching about wanting us to build a new arena for him.

Second, I know about the law, and the fact the franchise was stolen taken from here in 1993.  Nobody in Dallas gave a damn about the North Stars before 1993.  And I really don’t think any current Dallas Stars fan gives a damn about anything “their” franchise did before 1993.  Nearly all of the 37 alumni in town this weekend didn’t play a single second in Dallas; they played here.

Really, when it comes right down to it, it’s not the “North Stars” part that counts more, it’s the “Minnesota” part.  It’s the fans who breathe life into a franchise, and stitch that franchise into the community fabric.  Greedy owners and Dallas hockey thieves may think they can tear that fabric away from us, but they can’t.  Not as long as ceremonies honoring the Minnesota North Stars receive such a thundering ovation.  So this Dallas hockey thief Erin Bolen can kiss my Minnesota-raised ass.

The North Stars Reunion Weekend began with a premier autograph session on Wednesday, and continues with an “Evening with the Stars” shindig in St. Paul on Friday night, another autograph session in a Minneapolis suburb Saturday afternoon, and a party after the Wild game at a bar close to the Xcel Energy Center Saturday night.  It’s the latter event I hope to get to after the Minnesota RollerGirls bout against the Brewcity Bruisers from Milwaukee, taking place at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, connected to the X via hallway.  I hope I don’t look too much like a rube with my North Stars jersey and hat on, or with the drool coming out of my mouth as I try to say to a former player that I’m a huge fan.

If you can make it to any of these events, go – North Stars fans, Wild fans, fans of the players, and even people who just appreciate the legacy of the North Stars.  I continue harping on my belief that franchise relocation is one of the most underreported stories in sports news because it can ruin a community’s relationship with a sport and professional sports in general.  Here we see a case of the current hockey franchise, the Wild, reaching out to the franchise it replaced, the North Stars.  They are finally saying it’s OK to love both.  And Minnesota fans should.  Because if we don’t keep shouting to the world that the North Stars belong to Minnesota – and they do, by God and Buddha, and damn the law to hell – those imposters down in Dallas will say they do.  And I would rather eat my own feces than let that happen.

By the way, the Wild came back to beat the Florida Panthers in the North Stars Reunion game, 3-2 in overtime.  They tied it with 30 seconds to go in regulation, then won it 15 seconds into OT.  I’d like to think the Wild were inspired by the reminiscence of the old team.  Now, if only the Wild won while wearing the green, white and gold of the North Stars, one of the most kick-ass logos in sports history.

Posted by WilliamSou at 2:36 AM

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