Rick Lubbers: Duluth would go Wild today, if team gave us the chanceHello Minnesota Wild players and coaches - welcome to your practices in Duluth. If we may bring up one small gripe, it’s that we wish you had chosen to spend some time bonding with your fans here.
By: Rick Lubbers, Duluth News Tribune
Hello Minnesota Wild players and coaches.
Welcome to Duluth.
We trust you’ve enjoyed your first day of practice at the luxurious Amsoil Arena. Maybe it’s not the Xcel, but we’re pretty darn proud of it. Opened it last fall and we’re already raising a national championship banner there this weekend for the Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey team.
We’ve ordered some nice October weather for your stay. Monday was nice, and today’s high is expected to swell into the 70s. Not bad, considering there usually is a foot of snow on the ground this time of year.
Just kidding. It’s usually only an inch.
Have you strolled down the Lakewalk yet? Checked out Canal Park? Hit the mall, perhaps, or taken a Vista Fleet cruise on Lake Superior? Crossed the bridge into Superior?
Heard you spent a good part of Sunday playing war games in the woods south of Superior. Hope no one pulled a groin dodging paintballs or got scared off by all of the cheeseheads. They take some getting used to.
Whatever you do with your free time, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the Twin Ports every bit as much as the Twin Cities. Having quality bonding time is crucial for any sports team to have success. (Apparently the Vikings and Twins skipped theirs this year. Not sure the Timberwolves even know what it is.)
If we may bring up one small gripe, it’s that we wish you had chosen to spend some time bonding with your fans here. You see, hockey isn’t just the No. 1 sport up here — it’s also second, third and fourth. Earning some face time with your fans is also important. It’s not like your roster is full of household names like Mauer, Morneau and McNabb. Well, on second thought, maybe having household names isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. But still, most fans probably can’t name any of your players past right winger Dany Heatley or goalie Niklas Backstrom (or center Matt Cullen, if you’re from Virginia, Minn.).
Of course, this is a busy time for you. Your regular season opener is Saturday night. It’s a grueling 82-game season that won’t end until April — and then the six-month playoffs start. But would it kill you to open up practice today to the fans? We promise not to send any video to your rivals.
If you’re not up for opening practice to the fans, how about a quick meet-and-greet session or youth hockey clinic?
But what we’d really love to see is an NHL exhibition game next fall at Amsoil Arena. Maybe with the Detroit Red Wings? If they’re not available, try the Chicago Blackhawks. Heck, the Bulldogs would love to line up against you if checking isn’t involved and Gary Bettman isn’t looking.
So, let’s set a date next year. You bring yourselves (don’t forget the Red Wings) and the equipment, and we’ll supply the arena and fans. We’ll even throw in some more of those cheeseheads.
Contact News Tribune sports editor Rick Lubbers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (218) 723-5317.