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  • Imagining Minnesota Wild Players as Christmas Movies

    Justin Wiggins

    Hockey hasn’t been a lot of fun these past few days. The Minnesota Wild are riding a four-game losing streak into the Christmas break. The NHL is teetering on the edge of an expanded pause with COVID-19 spreading rapidly through locker rooms. Most recently, the NHL and NHLPA announced that the Grinch stole the 2022 Winter Olympics. It all sucks!


    But hey, it’s the holidays! We need to remain joyful and remember what’s most important this time of year – Christmas movies. The seasonal cinematic masterpieces from the past handful of decades we all sit down to watch as a family. Sometimes we watch them because the movie is great, other times just because it’s a tradition. And just like with some of the Wild players we cheer on every game, some are good, and some are bad. yet that doesn’t matter. We still enjoy them!


    So what players on the Wild roster most closely resemble your favorite, or least favorite, Christmas movie? I’m glad you asked.

    Ryan Hartman – The Santa Clause

    Forced into a situation because of the fine print, yet thriving. Signed this off-season to a very team-friendly extension, he finds himself as the team’s first-line center, with a role between Kaprizov and Zuccarello. Just like Tim Allen's character, Hartman also has a past littered with some recklessness, but throughout the year he has begun to believe he can be the best thing to happen to Wild fans this year. But sometimes seeing isn’t believing. Believing in Ryan Hartman is seeing.

    Nick Bjugstad – Jingle All the Way

    In Minnesota, we revere Jingle all the Way simply because we can claim it as a “One of Us” movie. Filmed in the Twin Cities, it holds a special place in our hearts, even if in reality it pretty much sucks from start to finish. Now let me be clear, Bjugstad isn’t a bad NHL player, and certainly is a solid NHL 4th liner. I wouldn’t say his hockey skills are as pathetic as Arnold Schwartzenegger's line reads. But the Minnesota faithful give the former Blaine Bengal a little more love than he probably deserves.

    Jingle All the Way 2 – The T-Shirt Guy


    Anyone who has been to a decent amount of Wild games at Xcel Energy Center has witnessed T-Shirt Guy and his shenanigans. He sucks. Period. End of Discussion. I don’t need to watch him erratically strip sweaty t-shirt after sweaty t-shirt from himself in section 108 anymore, just like I don’t need to watch the Jingle All the Way sequel ever. The straight-to-DVD 2014 bomb starring Larry the Cable Guy has absolutely no chance at being good. Just like the idea of stripping in public to get fans to clamor for disgustingly moist t-shirts was also a terrible idea from the start.

    Marcus Foligno - Gremlins

    First of all, yes, Gremlins is a Christmas movie, and if you need further evidence I present to you Exhibit A. Moving on now: Foligno, the heart and soul of the Wild, is a Mogwai through and through. He’s awesome and everyone’s favorite, but there are well-known rules with Foligno. He may not turn into a blood-thirsty monster if you feed him after midnight, but if an opposing player so much as looks at Kaprizov wrong, he will go full Gremlin on their asses.

    Victor Rask – Die Hard

    Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie? Is Victor Rask an NHL forward? Wherever you fall in this debate, we can all agree on one thing: We're all sick of having to talk about this every December. So let’s label things appropriately around here, okay? Die Hard is simply just an awesome action movie and Rask is the answer to the trivia question “Name the one player that best encapsulates Paul Fenton’s time as GM of the Wild.”

    Kevin Fiala – Home Alone

    Great, electric movie you’ll always watch whenever it's on TV. Always. Just like Fiala, who is must-watch every time he touches the puck. And just like in Home Alone, older people are always screaming “KEVIN!” whenever the clever forward turns the puck over.

    Kirill Kaprizov – Home Alone 2

    Kaprizov arrived in Minnesota just two years after Fiala did, just like Home Alone 2 arrived in theatres two years after the original. And just like the sequel, Kaprizov came in with high expectations. Wild fans hoped that Kirill could finally give the Wild two game-breakers between himself and Fiala. And both sequels not only met, but exceeded expectations. Home Alone 2 is simply better than Home Alone, and Kaprizov is simply better than Fiala. This is not opinion – just fact.

    Jared Spurgeon – It’s A Wonderful Life

    The most dependable Christmas movie every year. It doesn’t matter how your Christmas season is going, It’s A Wonderful Life always holds up and gives everyone joy – just like the Wild’s sturdy captain. 5-on-5? Elite. Penalty Kill? Consider it done. Overtime? Why did you even ask? Want him to lasso the moon? He's already pulling it down. No matter the situation, Spurgeon will happily oblige and perform admirably every time, year after year.

    Jonas Brodin - Elf

    An instant classic, and easy comparison. Buddy the Elf stole our hearts long ago and continues to do so every year around Christmas time. Same with Brodin. He too came to America from a far-away land. However, unlike Buddy, he wasn’t searching for his Father. No, Brodin was searching for a place in the NHL, and he excelled immediately. After finishing fourth in the Calder Trophy voting in 2013, Brodin has continued to produce at a high level every year since, providing amazing stability on the Wild’s blue line. Each and every year you can count on Brodin to be the premier shut-down defenseman in Minnesota, just like you can count on Will Ferrell on your TV every December to spread that Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear.

    Jordie Benn – Edward Scissorhands

    A newcomer on the blue line this year, Jordie Benn may not have hands made of knives, but the dude isn’t Pavel Datsyuk either. Seriously, am I the only one who cringes every time he touches the puck? Can someone please get Calen Addison in here?

    Jordan Greenway – Jack Frost

    Jack Frost is a touching movie about a man given another chance to prove he can live up to the expectations asked of him. How could it not be the much-maligned yet extremely talented Jordan Greenway? Heck, pretty sure he is beyond just a second chance this time around, but you can’t deny the dude is finally delivering this time. After much scrutiny to begin the season, Greenway has come on as of late, finally bullying his opponents in all three zones and being a driving force on what might be the best line in hockey. Jack Frost only has until winter is over to prove he can be better (he’s a snowman, remember?), and the same could be said for Greenway. In the final year of his contract, he’s going to need the rest of the season to prove he is worth keeping around.

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