NHL Lockout: Could the Lockout benefit the Minnesota Wild and their fans?
Let’s clear something up before considering the above question. TCL does not condone the NHL lockout, nor do the great fans of the Minnesota Wild. But in times like these we must find the glimmers of light in the dark corners of the hockey abyss; we must find the few positives that may yet come from Bettman’s systematic destruction of the 2012-13 season.
On the surface, the Wild and their fans appear to lose more than most teams with the absent season. The summer of Parise and Suter brought interest in the franchise to an all-time high. Minnesotans who have only lifted the silver of a Lake Trout dreamt of holding the glistening Stanley Cup on a sun-drenched lake in mid June.
This was to be both a season of redemption and the dawning of a new era. Instead, it’s been, well, nothing. Even if the two sides reach a deal in the coming weeks, the new core of the Wild will struggle to gel in the shortened season.
However, that just might be what Wild fans need right now: an excuse. Winning is a process. Regardless of whom they may have added in the offseason, teams rarely make the jump from also-ran to contender in a single season. Two players do not make a hockey team.
In truth, a playoff berth would constitute a successful season for the Wild. When you dream of Stanley, however, an eighth seed is a poor consolation prize. Even the most reasoned voice couldn’t quell the hopes of an invigorated fan base.
What this lockout provides for the beleaguered fan base is artificial patience. The absence of training camp will explain away the Wild’s shortcomings. In the meantime, their enviable collection of prospects is apprenticing in a revamped American Hockey League.
By the time the NHL returns the Granlunds, Zuckers, Coyles, and Brodins of the club will have months of professional hockey under their belts. General Manager Chuck Fletcher can plug his youngsters into the lineup with fewer concerns about the maturity of the players.
As a result, the shortened season, should it come to fruition, offers Wild fans a unique win-win scenario. If the Wild hit the ice skating and nab a top seed in the West, their coveted Stanley Cup may come much sooner than expected. If they understandably stumble out of the gate, fans can rationalize the faux season as a necessary building block for a coming dynasty.
The Wild will come back that much stronger in 2013-14 without having to live up to lofty expectations in 2012-13.
Of course, we need hockey first.