The Stanley Cup Trophy has been around for about 125 years. That’s longer than the formation of the American Football League and the Boy Scouts of America, as well as the first movie theatre in America. It symbolizes effort, teamwork, success, and every hockey player’s dream. The Stanley Cup finals have been a tradition for years, yet one team has never gotten the chance to hold it up in the air, let alone get to the Cup. I’m talking about the Minnesota Wild.
Since their inception in 2000, the Wild have only been to the Conference Finals once, losing to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim back in ’03. After that, they got as far as the Semifinals before falling to the Blackhawks on both occasions. In their 17-year existence, the Wild missed the playoffs 8 times, including a 4-year drought between 2009-2012.
Going back even farther, the North Stars didn’t get much luck either. The team reached the Stanley Cup finals twice, in 1981 and 1991, before falling to the champions. Their opponents were the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.
To be fair, the other Minnesotan sports haven’t performed to championship caliber status lately either, except for the Lynx.
The Minnesota Vikings have been flirting with an appearance in the Super Bowl recently and in years to come, while the Timberwolves have been out of luck over the last decade until they clinched a playoff berth by the skin of their teeth this year. Then there’s the Twins, who are stuck in one and done purgatory, unable to get past the divisional round. Minnesota United is in their beginning stages and it’s too early to tell what their future will be.
Except we are talking about the Wild. The team that acquired stars like Thomas Vanek and Zack Parise years ago in hopes to boost its performance. They even got a hold of Devan Dubnyk who’s been playing well as goalie.
Unlike its friends in other sports, the hockey team has given Minnesota a reason to believe. The Wild have been in the playoffs for the last 5 years. What I think is interesting is how there seems to be one opponent who the Wild, no matter how hard they try, cannot beat in a series. Most of you know what team I am talking about… the Chicago Blackhawks. Lucky for them, the Blackhawks didn’t make the playoffs this year.
Instead, the Wild face the Winnipeg Jets this time around. The Jets have had an impressive year finishing out with 114 points. Unfortunately for the Wild, they find themselves down 3-1, with game 5 on Friday. The odds are against them as only 10% of teams down 3-1 have ever come back from such a deficit. Perhaps some magic can break the spell as the Wild have come back from such a feat, winning the series against the Avalanche. They would go onto the Conference Finals before getting swept by the Ducks.
Who knows, maybe they can repeat history again. Looks like Wild fans will have to wait and see what the future has in store for them. Whether it be this year (not likely), next year, or 10 years from now, the Minnesota Wild have got to make the Stanley Cup Finals. After all, the Chicago Cubs took a century to return to the World Series. Hopefully the case is not the same for our beloved hockey team.
Photo: Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal (12), Wild left wing Jason Zucker (16) and defenseman Matt Dumba(24) celebrate after Staal scored a goal on the Winnipeg Jets in the second period of Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series, Sunday, April 15, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn.. The Wild won the game 6-2 but trail the Jets 2-1 in the series. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)