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  • The Minnesotan Conundrum: Examining the Obsession with Minnesotan Players


    There are generally three categories of thought on the issue of Minnesotans playing for the Wild:

    2. I know, but it would be nice... This group knows it's not rational to want a team entirely made up of Minnesotans but wouldn't mind having some homegrown talent suiting up. While they acknowledge that the best player regardless of hometown talent is always the best, their state pride still holds a small bias towards players from the State of Hockey.

    3. No. Stop it. No, really. This group is sick of people wishing there were more Minnesotans on the team. The irrationality of some of the proposals makes them want to explode. They will welcome talented players who happen to be from Minnesota, but are wary of it. They never want the Wild to draft another Minnesota high school hockey player ever again. Go Finland (/Canada/Sweden/Russia, etc.)!

    Not all fans fall directly into these categories, but most can place themselves into one of the general idea of each (obviously the above are somewhat sarcastic, tongue in cheek descriptions). This debate is probably never going to end, so follow the jump to see some stats about Minnesotans on the Wild and more in-depth analysis of why this is such a big deal to fans.

    Looking at the Wild's roster and draft history, it's true that there have not been a significant number of Minnesotans on the team. But the more interesting observation is the lack of success that Minnesotans have had on the Wild.

    Of these players, Darby Hendrickson arguably had the most impact on the team. Hendrickson was a great player, leader and liaison and is now a great coach. Parrish started strong but ended up having his contract bought out. Cullen has had a solid season so far but it's too early to judge his effect on the team. Other than that, the rest of the Minnesotans have mainly been role players or quick fixes and haven't stuck around long.

    As for the draft, it's harder to judge because many of the players are still developing, but drafting Minnesotans hasn't been a successful strategy thus far. The Wild have drafted six Minnesotans in ten years, selecting none in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008. These players are: Jake Riddle (2001, 9th round, playing in the ECHL), Mike Erickson (2002, 3rd round, not playing), A.J. Thelen (2004, 1st round, playing in the ECHL), Kyle Medvec* (2006, 4th round, playing for the University of Vermont), Chris Hickey (2006, 7th round, playing for the University of St. Thomas) and Nick Leddy (2009, 1st round, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks/Rockford Icehogs). [*Medvec was born in Colorado but grew up in Minnesota]

    But there are other factors working against it. The pressure on the hometown player to live up to fans' expectations is tough. Cullen waited until far into his career to come play for his home state, despite earlier chances to sign with the Wild. Some say having a homegrown talent will sell more, but there's something that sells even more than that: winning. It's GM Chuck Fletcher's job to put together the best team he can, not appease some fans by targeting someone based on place of birth. A hometown star doesn't always mean a fairytale ending (just look at Lebron).

    Would it be cool to have a star on the Minnesota Wild who was born and raised in the State of Hockey? Yes. But it's not currently an option. One day, perhaps, but not in the immediate future. Continue having that state pride, Minnesota, but be smart about it. Let's get a winning team first.

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