| Minnesota Wild|
The Minnesota Wild are a professional ice hockey team based in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The team was founded in 2000, becoming the first NHL franchise in Minnesota since the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas. They lost their first ever game 3–1 against the Anaheim Ducks and recorded their first win against the Tampa Bay Lightning five games later. The Wild have played at the Xcel Energy Center since being founded. In the 2002–03 NHL season, the team made its first playoff appearance, and made a surprising run to the Western Conference Finals where they were swept by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Minnesota has two minor league affiliates, the Houston Aeros and Bakersfield Condors.
Preparations of a new franchiseEdit
Following the departure of the Minnesota North Stars after the 1993 season, the state was without an NHL team for seven seasons. On June 25, 1997, the NHL announced that Minnesota had been awarded an expansion franchise, to begin play in the 2000–01 season. The six finalist team names for the new NHL franchise were Blue Ox, Freeze, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, White Bears, and Wild. Jac Sperling was named Chief Executive Officer of the Minnesota team and Brian Skluzacek was named Chief Financial Officer.
The team was officially named the Wild, with the unveiling occurring at Aldrich Arena in White Bear Lake, MN. The Minnesota Wild announced its first major sponsorship agreement with Mastercard from First USA. It was the earliest that First USA had ever signed an agreement in advance of a team beginning play (31 months). The State of Minnesota agreed in legislation to fund $65 million of the $130 million project costs for the, Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Saint Paul Civic Center deconstruction began soon thereafter and the Xcel Energy Center design was announced. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Xcel Energy Center was hosted in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Minnesota Wild announced a 26-year partnership agreement with the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC). The Minnesota Wild-MASC partnership is the first partnership of its kind between a private professional sports team and a public amateur sports organization. Doug Risebrough was named executive vice president/general manager of Minnesota Wild and the Xcel Energy Center was completed and ready for use.
First five seasons Edit
First NHL SeasonEdit
The Minnesota Wild's first season officially started. The Wild named Jacques Lemaire their first-ever head coach and the team picked Marian Gaborik third overall in the first round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Gaborik would go on to score the first ever goal for the Wild in their franchise debut on October 6 at Anaheim. The Wild played their first ever home game on October 11 against the Philadelphia Flyers and skated to a 3–3 tie. Minnesota native Darby Hendrickson scored the first-ever home goal for the Wild. The team was not very successful on the ice, but showed promise for future seasons. The most notable game of the year, however, was the first visit of the Dallas Stars, who had formerly played in Minnesota as the Minnesota North Stars. The Wild rode an emotional sellout crowd of over 18,000 to a 6–0 shutout in Dallas' first regular season game in Minnesota since a neutral-site game in 1993. The season ended with Scott Pellerin as the leading scorer with 39 points while Wes Walz, Darby Hendrickson, and Gaborik paced the team with 18 goals each.
The Wild would get off to a strong start by getting at least one point in their first seven games. However, the Wild would finish in last place again with a record of 26–35–12–9. Along the way, there were signs the Wild were improving, as second-year speedster Gaborik had a solid sophomore season with 30 goals, including an invite to the NHL YoungStars Game, and Andrew Brunette led the team in scoring with 69 points.
Gaborik spent much of the season vying for the league scoring crown before slumping in the second half, and the Wild, in their first ever playoff appearance, made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals before being swept 4–0 by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Previously, the Wild had beaten the favored and third-seeded Colorado Avalanche in the first round in seven games, coming back from a 3–1 series deficit and winning both Game Six and Seven in overtime. Brunette scored the series clinching goal, the last ever on Patrick Roy. In the Western Conference semifinals, the Wild beat the fourth-seeded Vancouver Canucks, again in seven games, and again after being down 3–1 in a series. In the process, the Wild became the first team in playoff history to capture a seven-game series twice after facing elimination during Game Five.
When the season started, the Wild were short-handed with both Pascal Dupuis and Gaborik holding out. After struggling in the first month, the Wild finally got their two young star left-wingers signed, but both struggled to get back into game shape as the Wild struggled through much of November. In a deep hole, the Wild could not climb back into the playoffs, despite finishing the season strong, with wins in five of their last six games as they finished last in the competitive Northwest Division with a record of 30–29–20–3. Along the way, the Wild began to gear up for the future, trading away several of their older players who were a part of the franchise from the beginning, including Brad Bombardir and Jim Dowd.
Season cancelled due to lockout. Former Wild player Sergei Zholtok died from a heart condition during a game in Europe. Zholtok died in the arms of Minnesotan and former Wild player Darby Hendrickson.
Minnesota finished in last place in the Northwest Division, eight points behind the Vancouver Canucks; along the way, Gaborik set a new franchise record for goals in a season (38), and Brian Rolston set a new highest point total by a Wild player in a season (79). The goaltender controversy between Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson ended when Roloson was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for a first round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.The Wild signed veteran free agents Kim Johnsson, Mark Parrish, Branko Radivojevic, and Keith Carney. On the day of the NHL Entry Draft, they traded the 17th overall pick and prospect Patrick O'Sullivan to the Los Angeles Kings for veteran Slovak Pavol Demitra. Niklas Backstrom was the starting goalie for the Wild after previous starter Manny Fernandez sprained his knee on January 20. Fernandez played for the first time since the sprain on March 6 and was removed after allowing three goals in two periods in the Wild's 3–0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Josh Harding was brought up from the Wild's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, when Fernandez was hurt, and remained on Minnesota's roster for the rest of the season as the backup goalie. All-Star winger Marian Gaborik returned from a groin injury in January 2007 and made an immediate impact, bringing a new spark to a lacking offense.
The Wild made the playoffs in 2007 for the second time in team history, but were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks in the opening round. Notably, the same Anaheim franchise eliminated the Wild in their first playoff year, in the conference finals, in 2003.
The Wild broke numerous franchise records including most goals and points in a season (Marian Gaborik — 42 Goals and 83 points). Also, Jacques Lemaire recorded his 500th career coaching win and the Wild clinched their first ever Northwest Division title in a 3–1 victory over the Calgary Flames on April 3, 2008. They again faced the Colorado Avalanche in the first round as sixth and third seed (as in the 2003 playoffs), but this time the roles were reversed, and the Wild held home-ice advantage. However, Minnesota came up short, being ousted in six games by the Avalanche.
During the off-season of 2008, the Wild re-acquired Andrew Brunette from the Avalanche, as well as trading for defenseman Marek Zidlicky. The Wild also signed free agents Antti Miettinen and Owen Nolan to multi-year deals. There seemed to be a stigma about Jacques Lemaire's defensive system that caused a number of top free agents to avoid the Wild.
Despite winning the Northwest Division the previous season, the Wild fell to ninth place in the Western Conference in 2008–09, missing the playoffs entirely. Much of this was in part due to a lack of scoring and overall team offense, and the injuries to star forward Marian Gaborik, who played only 17 games. Jacques Lemaire, coach of the Wild since the team's inception in the 2000–01 season, resigned as coach at seasons end. General Manager Doug Risebrough was later fired, leading to a nearly complete turnover in the Wild's coaching and management staff.
In the summer of 2009, owner Craig Leipold hired former Pittsburgh Penguins Assistant General Manager Chuck Fletcher to act as standing GM. Later that summer, Fletcher selected Todd Richards as head coach. Once the free agency period opened that summer, Martin Havlat was brought over from the Chicago Blackhawks in order to lessen the blow of Marian Gaborik's departure. During the first month of the 2009–10 season, the team announced their first ever full-time captain, Mikko Koivu.
The Wild home jersey has a small imprint of the team's primary logo inside a white circle, which is surrounded by the words "Minnesota Wild" in a larger ring against a green background. The rest of the jersey is predominantly red, with additional swatches of green on the sleeves. The away jersey uses a larger version of the primary logo without the concentric circles on a predominantly white jersey. On August 30, 2009, the team unveiled a third jersey, which is almost the same design as the red home jersey but predominantly green with white accents. It says "Minnesota Wild" in script writing across the chest.
The multi-functional primary logo of the "Wild Animal" has been met with both praise and criticism. The logo is an optical illusion that depicts both an environmental landscape and the silhouette of a wild animal.
The questions surrounding the identity of the animal depicted, has sparked debate amongst logo enthusiasts, earning it recognition as one of the best logos in sport according to The Good Point. Some feel as though the form of the animal on the logo is that of a wild cat, while the majority view it to be a bear.The hidden components of the logo, the eye depicts the North Star which pays homage to the former Minnesota North Stars, the mouth resembles a river, the ear is the moon, and the pine trees add texture to the "wild animal."
In 2008, "Nordy" was introduced as the official mascot of the team.
The Minnesota Wild is owned by Minnesota Sports & Entertainment, which is a limited partnership formed by former majority owner Bob Naegele Jr. of Naegele Sports, LLC in 1997. On January 10, 2008, it was announced that the franchise was being sold to former Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold. The NHL’s Board of Governors officially approved Leipold’s purchase of Minnesota Sports & Entertainment (MSE) on April 10, 2008. Leipold, a resident of Racine, Wisconsin, completed the sale of the Nashville Predators to a local ownership group on December 7, 2007, a team he owned since the expansion franchise was awarded to Nashville in 1997. Under Leipold’s ownership, the Predators were dedicated to building a long-term winning franchise, playing an important role in the community through service initiatives, providing a fun and entertaining game-night experience and building strong relationships with their fans and corporate partners.
Leipold is the majority owner and principal investor in MSE, a regional sports and entertainment leader that includes the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, its AHL affiliate the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, the National Lacrosse League’s Minnesota Swarm, Wildside Caterers, 317 on Rice Park and the facility management of Xcel Energy Center and the Saint Paul RiverCentre. He also serves as the team’s Governor at NHL Board of Governors’ meetings. After purchase of MSE, Mr. Leopold sold the Swarm to John Arlotta. Along with the Wild, the group also operates the Xcel Energy Center, the Saint Paul RiverCentre and Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The group has recently extended its business through a majority stake in Wildside Caterers. The partnership also owns and operates 317 on Rice Park, which is the former historic Minnesota Club.
This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Wild. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Minnesota Wild seasons
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|2005–06||82||38||36||8||84||231||215||1211||5th, Northwest||Did not qualify|
|2006–07||82||48||26||8||104||235||191||850||2nd, Northwest||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1-4 (Ducks)|
|2007–08||82||44||28||10||98||223||218||1086||1st, Northwest||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 2-4 (Avalanche)|
|2008–09||82||40||33||9||89||219||200||869||3rd, Northwest||Did not qualify|
|2009–10||82||38||36||8||84||219||246||914||4th, Northwest||Did not qualify|
Updated October 28, 2010.
Note: Since joining the NHL in 2000, the Wild rotated the captaincy for their first 9 seasons on a monthly basis among several of its players each season, with some players serving multiple times under Jacques Lemaire. After Todd Richards became head coach for the start of the 2009-2010 season, Mikko Koivu, who was the last rotating captain and had had the captaincy three different times in the 2008-2009 season, became the franchise's first permanent captain on October 20, 2009.
- Brad Brown — October 2003
- Andrew Brunette — November 2003
- Richard Park — December 2003
- Brad Bombardir — January 2004
- Jim Dowd — February 2004
- Andrew Brunette — March and April 2004
- No captain (Lockout) October 2004—April 2005
- Mikko Koivu — October and November 2008
- Kim Johnsson — December 2008
- Mikko Koivu — January 2009
- Andrew Brunette — February 2009
- Mikko Koivu — March & April 2009
- Mikko Koivu, 2009- present 
Hall of Famers: The Wild's former Head Coach Jacques Lemaire was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (in the players category) in 1985. On April 3, 2008, he became only the 11th coach in NHL history to have 500 wins.
Franchise scoring leadersEdit
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Wild player
NHL awards and trophiesEdit
Franchise individual recordsEdit
- Most goals in a season: 42 Marian Gaborik, (2007–08)
- Most assists in a season: 50 Pierre-Marc Bouchard, (2007–08*)
- Most points in a season: 83 Marian Gaborik, (2007–08)
- Most penalty minutes in a season: 201 Matt Johnson, (2002–03)
- Most points in a season, defenseman: 43 Brent Burns, (2007–08*)
- Most points in a season, rookie: 36 Marian Gaborik, (2000–01)
- Most wins: 114 Niklas Backstrom (Jan. 13, 2010 vs. Vancouver Canucks)
- Most wins in a season: 37 Niklas Backstrom; (2008–09)
- Most shutouts in a season: 8 Niklas Backstrom, (2008–09),
- Best +/- in a season: +22 Keith Carney, (2006–07)
- Stars cannot Go Home Again (AP)
- Minnesota Wild Stats and Records
- Naegele to sell interest in Minnesota Wild
- ↑ Origins of the 30 NHL Teams. NHL.com (2008). Retrieved on 2008-04-26.
- ↑ Jack Sperling Bio. NHL.com (2007). Retrieved on 2008-04-26.
- ↑ "Hospital with new name hasn't forgotten its past", Minnesota Star Tribune, March 13, 1998. Retrieved on 2009-10-04.
- ↑ Risebrough's Bio. NHL.com (2008). Retrieved on 2008-04-26.
- ↑ NHL mourns passing of Zholtok.
- ↑ http://wild.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=490694
- ↑ Minnesota Nature Bear named one of best logos in sports.
- ↑ wild.nhl.com/team/app?articleid=360027&page=NewsPage&service=page.
- ↑ wild.nhl.com/team/leipold.htm.
- ↑ Wild Roster. Minnesota Wild. Retrieved on 2010-10-28.
- ↑ http://wild.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=502812
- ↑ http://wild.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=502812
|Franchise||Franchise • Expansion Draft • Players • Coaches • General Managers • Seasons • Draft picks|
|Arena||Xcel Energy Center|
|Affiliates||Houston Aeros (AHL) • Johnstown Chiefs (ECHL)|
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