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BRULE LAKE I was saddened to receive the news on Sunday afternoon that Minnesota Viking Legend Bill Brown had passed away at the age of 80. He had been at a nursing home for a handful of years leading up to his passing. To this day Brown still holds 4 team records; most games played by a running back (182), games started by a running back (111), career rushing attempts (1627) and consecutive games played by a back at 101. He also ranks high in several other team records. He was named to the Viking Ring of Honor in 2004 and is listed as one of the 50 Greatest Vikings of All-time. “Brownie” was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1961 and then was traded to the Vikes before the 1962 season. He went on to play 13 seasons for the club, retiring after the 1974 season. The Illinois native and former University of Illinois star was not a speed merchant on the field, but once he got running up field you had better have been prepared for what was coming at you because he wasn’t easy to tackle. At 5’11’’ and in the upper 220’s weight wise, he was a wrecking ball with cleats on.
Brown was a practitioner of the old style of wrapping both arms over the ball, cradling it behind the forearms, and running with his head down, unless he was in the open field. Either way it was look out. You could tackle him, but it was going to hurt. Brown was named to 4 Pro Bowl teams and of course was on the 1969 NFL Champion Vikings team. I got to meet him several times as a kid whether at the Midway for a practice or the Met for a game, and he was always a gentleman, easy going and mannerly. He was always coiffed in his trademark Flattop haircut style, popular at the time, as were a lot of the players, so my brother and I always had the same or a similar styled crew cut. We did that until The Beatles came along and that was the end of that buzzcut BS. Now that I’m officially an old fart, the buzzcut seems to be in vogue once again.
I have heard that Browns family is donating his brain for CTE research and I can only state that the last time I saw him in the early 2000’s he wasn’t getting around too well. I am imagining his final handful of years weren’t really good for him and that saddens me knowing how many fans he entertained over the years with the Vikes, and how many more simply do not know or understand the post-playing days struggles many of these great men have had to go through. Brownie was a one-of-a-kind, and that’s not just a cliché. That’s for real. He was one of the toughest guys I ever saw put on a Purple jersey. Mr. Brown, my hat is off to you on this day,
Thanks, and may you Rest in Peace Forever….
THE MINNESOTA WILD INVADED
the newly renovated (and re-named) Enterprise Center in the Gateway City last Saturday eve and put an absolute hammerlock of a game on the STL Blues to come away with a 5-1 very convincing victory. The team started off with a brisk 1st period, easily their best yet of the young season. The Wild were up 2-0 by the 5:27 marker of the first on Eric Staal’s 400th goal of his career and on Nick Seeler’s first ever of his fledgling career. The Blues got their lone tally of the game on a Ryan O’Reilly goal six minutes later. Former UMD Bulldog JT Brown got his 1st in a Wild sweater to close out the first. The Wild were ahead 13-5 on the shot clock and finished the game with a 45-16 edge. The 2nd period featured a whopping 20-4 advantage as it was mostly bombs away for the Wild. Matt Dumba got the lone goal in the 2nd and Eric Fehr did the same in the 3rd for the final. Seeler, Fehr and Jordan Greenway each got 2 points in this tilt. I can’t recall off the bat the last time I saw a performance this thorough and efficient for this club. Everything pretty much clicked, and they dominated the Blues.
Post-game there was rampant speculation that Blues Coach and former Wild Coach Mike Yeo’s job is on the line. I don’t know if it is or not, but I do know that with some of the moves the team made in the offseason that there was a lot of pre-season hype about this club being a major contender for the Division and the Conference. I understood it, but I wasn’t going along. The first thing I’m looking at is whether they have the goaltending to accomplish that and in my opinion they don’t. Jake Allen is good, but I don’t feel the club brought him along properly when he was younger, and he has had some inconsistency as a result. When the team drafted him, Brian Elliott was the number one in STL. The coach at the time, Ken Hitchcock, didn’t come across to me as an Elliott fan. Allen had some success with their Peoria Rivermen team and the race was seemingly on to push Elliott out of the way and make Allen the number one, even though he was relatively inexperienced at the NHL level. He would have some great stretches, and has put up some good numbers, but has been plagued by going into the tank at times. It should be noted that he has normally had some good rosters in front of him throughout most of his pro career.
Much was made of the team bringing in O’Reilly in the offseason. At the same time, they had lost some veteran talent who had been mainstays on the club for multi-seasons, I don’t believe their depth on the backend or up front is as good as in the past, and I’m not surprised they are having a tough start to their season. The Blues are last in the Central at 4-5-3. They went 1-4 in the F5, and 2-3 in the next….
WILD DATA; The ATHLETIC, 10th, with a 75% chance at the playoffs, on track for 97 points. The SAGARIN, 7th on an 8-5 record, 3-2 vs T10, 5-2 vs T16. NHL, tied for 4th with 8 wins, 3rd for pct. of points avail @ .692. STANDINGS, 2nd in the Central on 18 points, 7-2-1 in L10, 5-0-2 @ Home, 3-3 Away. +4 Differential. This week; the Cali Trifecta, @SJS, @LAK, @ ANA, and then back @ STL. This could be a challenging week, but the club goes into it as one of the best defensive teams going. LAK, ANA and STL are trying to find some game right now so this could be a very productive week for the Wild…. PEACE