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The Stanley Cup Finals Highlighted What the Wild Are Missing

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As a Minnesota sports fan, I’ve known nothing but failure all my life. I wasn’t alive for the Twins’ World Series wins, and although the Lynx and Whitecaps have won several championships, Minnesota’s teams in the big-four men’s sports leagues haven’t matched their success. I’m mostly jealous about this year’s Stanley Cup Final, and I’m sure many Minnesota sports fans can relate.

For sports fans, all we want is to see our teams win. Some markets are luckier than others. The New England area has been on fire in the past decade. Northern California has had a good run with the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco Giants. Southern California has its fair share of success, too. The LA Kings, Dodgers, and Lakers all have won championships.

Most recently, Tampa Bay has become a title town of sorts. ‘Champa Bay,’ if you will. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2021, and Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups. They just finished up fighting hard for a three-peat.

Minnesota fans have yet to experience that kind of dominance in any sport. I can’t help but be jealous of the franchises that seem to have it figured out, like the Lightning. To see the same players scoring goals, the same goalie making all the saves, and all the fans enjoying the endless number of wins is a bit annoying, frankly.

Minnesota has never been dominant in any sport. Winning championships is hard enough, and now that we’re seeing the same teams win over and over again, I’m becoming increasingly jealous.

At the risk of making every Minnesota sports fan depressed, look at these tweets.

Aside from the ‘87 and ‘91 Twins teams, the Minnesota sports market has been nothing short of miserable.

The Wild have never had a goaltender like Andrei Vasilevskiy, goal scorers like Brayden Point and Nathan MacKinnon, or leaders like Steven Stamkos and Gabriel Landeskog.

However, elite goalie prospect Jesper Wallstedt looks like the Wild’s franchise netminder, and Kirill Kaprizov recently landed in seventh place in Hart Trophy voting. The future appears to be bright, but there are still things they need.

First of all, the Wild do not have a winning mentality. They seem to be just used to losing, and they seem to accept it as well. Players always say that once they win a championship, they become even more hungry for the next one. That is clearly what Tampa Bay was feeling. No mercy. They will remain dominant and just as hungry as every other team.

The Lightning managed to take it to six games, but the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche dethroned them, winning their first championship in nearly two decades. Old friends Nico Sturm and Darcy Kuemper got to lift the Stanley cup, and so did Minnesota native Erik Johnson. While Colorado is the Wild’s biggest rival at the moment, you have to appreciate how good they were this year.

Be honest, you also probably don’t hate them. You’re just jealous of what they have. Jealous that Minnesota has never produced a team as good as Colorado or Tampa Bay.

In a postgame interview with Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, he was asked what other teams should take away from Colorado’s journey. His response? “Find a Cale Makar somewhere.”

Have the Wild ever had a defenseman of Makar’s caliber? Yes, they had one in Brent Burns, but they traded him away for another player (Charlie Coyle), whom they would eventually trade away. None of the Wild’s current blue liners seem to have what it takes to lead the team to important victories.

So while it appears that the Wild have playoff-caliber forwards and hopefully the goalie in Wallstedt, the defensive side is clearly lacking. History tells us that teams need elite defenders to make it far in the playoffs. If the Wild want to make a difference in the postseason any time soon, it’s clear that they need an all-star defenseman. Two of the three previous Conn Smythe winners were defensemen. That’s a good indication that the best teams have top-tier talent on the blue line.

This year’s Avalanche team showed they have what it takes to be elite, and other teams like the Wild need to take notice.

Anyone can look at this series and appreciate how good both hockey teams are. But I have to admit, I’m glad it’s over. I know some people who didn’t even want to watch the Finals because they were so sick of the Lightning. It’s hard to fathom that anyone will ever feel that way towards a Minnesota team.

Tampa had their reign, and now it’s most likely over. Key players like Ondrej Palat are most likely not going to return, and hopefully, Tampa will let another team in the East be in the finals for the next few years.

On the other hand, Colorado could be poised to take another serious run at the Cup in the next few years. Minnesota fans will be forced to hold in the jealousy as we watch teams in the Twin Cities fail to win championships.

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Remembering the 2012 World Juniors: The Wild's First Time Shining On the World Stage

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The World Junior Championships was hardly the Minnesota Wild’s tournament in their first decade of existence. You might argue it’s because they never had any good prospects, […]

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