Hot August Nights: Minnesota Wild

by J.R.

neil-diamond-79This week, III Communication presents “Hot August Nights.” At one minute past sundown local time we’ll be reviewing the off-seasons of each Conference III team using the songs of American legend Neil Diamond.

Tonight, it’s up to the State of Hockey and the Minnesota Wild.

As suggested by friend of the program and Wild fan Jeremy, the lachrymose ballad “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” (Someone please photoshop Suter and Parise’s faces onto Neil and Babs).

As we’re now halfway through this exercise, it’s worth noting that not a one of you suggested “I’m A Believer” to describe your team’s off-season moves. Telling.

I remember when you couldn’t wait to love me

In fairness to the Wild front office, there was no way this summer would be as exciting as last summer when they stole signed Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. But the expected malaise was only exacerbated when the big spenders sneaked into the playoffs only to be summarily bounced by the eventual champion Blackhawks. Couple that with the rather odd speculation that the Wild might move and it was a strange summer. indeed.

But ‘used to be’s’ don’t count anymore, they just lay on the floor ’til we sweep them away

None of this is to say the Wild had a quiet off-season. The team shipped fan favorite Cal Clutterbuck to the Islanders for Nino Niederreiter and bought out local Tom Gilbert. Jeremy says this did little to assuage the fans.

I learned how to laugh and I learned how to cry

On free agency day — again, never going to be as exciting as 2012 — the team signed Minnesotan Keith Ballard, who lives in Edina. Outside of Montreal, is there a fan base who cares more about having local players than do Wild fans? I posit no, but I live in Nashville and the Predators managed to bat 1.000 on getting local guys on the team.

Well, I learned how to love, even learned how to lie. You’d think I could learn how to tell you goodbye

Just so no one would get the idea with the Ballard signing that the Wild front office was actually trying to placate its fanbase, the team went out and signed Matt Cooke for some damn reason on the same day they traded Devin Setoguchi, who I always thought was pretty good.

Friend of show Emilie Wiener described it thusly at the Wilderness: “Momma’s gonna go get blackout drunk and try to forget this evening even happened.”

Meanwhile, Matt Cullen signed in Nashville, which isn’t exactly an even trade for Suter, but again, he’s another guy who was popular up in the Land of 10,000 Hotdishes.

So what to think of Minnesota’s summer of discontentishness? They’ll be down in the middling part of Conference III, competing for that third spot and also the confusing cross-over spot (and they won’t have to hold off Columbus this time), but they’re no threat to Chicago.

Check back tomorrow at 7:20 Central as we review Nashville in the next edition of Hot August Nights