WILD in limbo; Super Bowl commands stage

Marc Elliott

ST. PAUL – Shortly after crafting last week’s column for the World Wide Duluth Reader, the NHL’s Minnesota WILD was shutdown for multiple positive COVID-19 test results. They were already missing their original positive test subject, Marcus Foligno, and then promptly added four more players to that list.

Joining him were; Nick Bonino, Nick Bjugstad, Jared Spurgeon, and Joel Eriksson Ek. Three games were postponed, @ COL, vs. ARI, and vs. STL. At this time, the next scheduled contest is vs. STL, Thursday the 11th in St. Paul. That will be pending new test results. 

I’ve discussed where I believed the team was at in this early stage of the new season and must reiterate that before the beginning of the campaign that I felt the team was capable of obtaining the fourth overall position in their division, and thus, a playoff berth. That was based upon seeing some exceptional play from the group and solid netminding. Number one goalie Cam Talbot has been veteran steady while the young Kaako Kahkonen has been “rookie” unsteady. 

The next opponent up for the WILD is STL, provided they can play the game. The Blues are an upper-level Stanley Cup contender. They have been a tough matchup for the WILD in the recent past.

The Blues have had to undergo a rescheduling situation due to their opposition’s test issues, not their own problems. So they ended up in a position where they had four tilts scheduled against the ARI Coyotes. These were all home games. With the fourth one scheduled for this evening, the Blues won the first one and have dropped the last two. This evening should be interesting.  

Will the WILD have enough game to get that fourth spot? Even if they get past the positive tests, they have a growing list on the Injured Reserve.

When Spurgeon gets his testing right, he is headed to the IR. He will join Stalock, Zuccarello, Johansson, and Dumba. Rookie Marco Rossi has been sent home for the remainder of the season and will not play anywhere due to Covid issues. 

The WILD has the 30th ranked power play (7.1%) and the 4th ranked penalty kill. (86.4%)
That isn’t a typo, friends.

They are 1-2 versus the top 10 and top 16 via their games against COL. They are 17th in the Sagarin Ranking and have the 25th ranked difficulty of schedule.

The club is currently in 5th in the West based upon a 6-5 record after 11 games. The Avs are the only “tough” team the boys have faced thus far, and the Avs looked as if they could put the hammer on them whenever they so desired.

What does this break do for the team? Rest is never a bad thing in an NHL season, but rust definitely is. We shall see, and that sooner rather than later. 

THE SUPER BOWL has come and gone. And wonder of wonders the GOAT Tom Brady has another title to add to his godlike totals.

The Tampa Bay Bucs defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 for the win and the title. And while I didn’t keenly observe every moment of this tilt, I did have it on, and it seemed to be a bit non-competitive. That was of little surprise.

I had been siding with the Bucs all week in this game, basically because it is hard to repeat (KC was defending Champ) and because they were going to be without two O-line starters. That was going to put a lot of pressure on them to protect the now-monikered “Baby GOAT” Patrick Mahomes.

With a case of turf toe going on, Mahomes himself was not 100%. The Bucs D-line made the afternoon quite miserable for the Chiefs and Mahomes. 

Was it a good event for the league overall? I guess.

There were obstacles to overcome for the league to have the game, but they appeared to have pulled that off. A limited volume of fans was allowed to view the game, but they had to show their government-issued proof of vaccination cards to gain entrance.

The pre-game show included a mes-sage that was supposed to be uplifting, I guess – something about unity, togetherness, and battling through this pandemic situation.

With my daughter being a frontline health care worker, I know how united they are, and I know how hard they work to stay on top of this matter. When I consider the public and how divided it is, I contemplate that this issue is here to stay and that we have now entered a permanent Covid state. Of course, it didn’t have to be that way. Fingers can and should be pointed, and I believe we all know where the pointing should be directed.

The pre-game continued with the singing of “America the Beautiful’’ and then the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Personally, I believe the latter should have been laid to rest a long time ago and that it should be replaced by the former, even if this country isn’t exactly “beautiful” at the moment.

And it’s likely been decades since it has been. The minority that runs roughshod over the country’s direction and function can’t seem to mind its own business and focus on making this a much better place to be for all citizens. Both ruling political party’s are corrupt beyond redemption, and we can’t seem to shed ourselves of either.

The NFL itself isn’t exactly a bastion of integrity.

They’ve yet to meet their own rules regarding minority hiring for the coaching staff and head coaching positions. Years back, they promised to do a better job of this and have failed at it.

In a business where about 69% of their on-field personnel are black Americans, it was pointed out to the league that their coaching ranks were nowhere near that percentage. The league promised to look into it and eventually agreed to improve in this area. They haven’t. Less than 10% of head coaches are black. And none have been hired after the 2019 regular season, even though there were openings. 

Roughly 35% of the league’s assist-ant coaches are black, and in the ownership ranks, only 2 of 32 clubs have people of color in the ownership group. This league has a long way to go. And sadly, they aren’t alone, and this isn’t the only issue with them that irks me. 

I haven’t seen the overall TV rating for the game yet, but the overnight had the Boston market besting the Tampa Bay market by 57.6 to 52.3. Apparently, Tom Brady still has a few fans there. I will be interested to see how this event did overall, considering everything going on at this time. The league was all in on the Brady-Mahomes matchup. I’m confident they were expecting a rating bonanza. 

Soon we will witness the first anniversary of pro sports postponements and cancellations. It will be an inglorious moment. It didn’t have to be. For reasons we’ll never know, the people that could have minimized the impact of the past year on us didn’t. They failed miserably. 475,533 times they failed. PEACE