Becoming a Minnesota Wild Fan – Pt. 1

I was born a Detroit Red Wings fan. “Fan” is putting it loosely – half of my family is from the U.P. (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) so I was born into it.

I grew up in Wisconsin, though, and still live here. Catching Red Wings games on TV is pretty rare. And even when the game was on NBC Sports, I’d tune in maybe 50 percent of the time. I enjoy hockey, but am the definition of a casual fan – watch a few prime time games during the regular season and then most of the playoffs and Stanley Cup finals.

At the beginning of each season I’d tell myself this was the year I’d get fully invested. A few weeks in I’d fall off. Lack of effort, a lot of games, etc. etc. I have plenty of excuses. Outside of game recap push notifications from ESPN, I am pretty blind to what’s going on (and as I’m writing this, ESPN notified me the Red Wings have been eliminated from playoff contention. Sad!).

Enter Phil and Jeff. Minnesota Wild fans.

In 2016 they took a road trip from our Wisconsin home town to the Xcel Energy Center (New Fact Number 1!) to watch a game in person. They had a blast and filled me in on all the details (which I’ll save for another time). I wanted in. I wanted a Zach Parise jersey. And I wanted to be able to cheer for a team that I could see whenever I wanted (we get a lot of the Wild games on TV in Wisconsin).

So, that’s where we are today. I watched the Red Wings beat the Wild on Sunday, which seemed to be a good spot to begin the transition. I’ll still have a soft spot for the Red Wings – and some regret for not making it to a game at the Joe before its closing. And the Red Wings puck I got as a kid will always live on in my memorabilia collection. But now, it will be behind the Wild gear.

Cheering for a Minnesota Team in Wisconsin

Most of us around here have a disdain for our close rivals. Chicago Bears in football, St. Louis Cardinals/Chicago Cubs in baseball (those probably more out of jealousy), and I guess the Bulls in basketball (Go Bucks).

So while many of my friends and college peers jumped on the Chicago Blackhawks bandwagon when they got hot, it would have been impossible for me to do the same. Call it being a dumb sports fan, but it’s one of those things that die-hards know exist in their hearts.

This will be my first foray into cheering for anything Minnesota. It doesn’t feel dirty to me as a Wisconsinite – I think that most of us, especially if we’ve visited the state – have an appreciation for Minnesota. But with no hometown hockey team (outside of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, a team that I do enjoy), it’s easier to disconnect from the usual state boundaries that mark our fandom.

USATSI_9970040_114815493_lowres_1490534425064_9043863_ver1.0

The New (To Me) Facts

Let’s get to it! Here are some things I didn’t know before I started researching my new team:

  1. The Dallas Stars used to be the Minnesota North Stars (I know this may seem obvious to you, but apparently the change happened in 1993, when I was 2. I do have a recollection of this… but you’re going to have to give me some breaks here).
  2. The new Minnesota team started play in the 2000-2001 season
  3. We (I’m using we now – I’m all in) clinched our first Northwest Division title in 2008 (Eat it, Avalanche)
  4. Wow, the Wild are currently second behind the Blackhawks in the standings. I feel like a bandwagon jumper for getting on now – but I literally just learned this fact. Doesn’t count.

There are a lot more minor things I’m picking up from the Wiki page. And I’ve followed the Wild Twitter account, some fan pages, and subscribed to the Wild subreddit. So here goes nothing. Follow along for Part 2 and onward as I become a Minnesota Wild fan.