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Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild are a professional ice hockey team based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team's inaugural season was in 2000. As of April 9, 2008, the Wild have sold out every home game in franchise history at their home arena, the Xcel Energy Center.

Franchise history

Preparations of a new franchise

The National Hockey League announced that Minnesota had been awarded an expansion franchise to begin play in the 2000-2001 season. The six finalist team names for the new NHL franchise were: Minnesota Blue Ox, Minnesota Freeze, Minnesota Northern Lights, Minnesota Voyageurs, Minnesota White Bears and Minnesota Wild. Jac Sperling was named Chief Executive Officer of the Minnesota team and Brian Skluzacek was named Chief Financial Officer.

The new NHL team is officially named the Minnesota Wild. The unveiling occurred in front of Aldrich Arena. The Minnesota Wild announced its first major sponsorship agreement with the Minnesota Wild Mastercard card from First USA. It was the earliest that First USA has 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 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

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 Round 1 of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. 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 record 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 Wild would get off to a strong start by getting at least 1 point in their first 7 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 season with 30 goals, no sophomore slump, and Andrew Brunette led the team in scoring with 69 points.

Gaborik spends much of the season vying for the league scoring crown, and the Wild, in their first ever playoff appearance, make 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 favoured and third-seeded Colorado Avalanche in the first round in seven games, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit and winning both Game 6 and 7 in overtime. Brunette scored the series clinching goal. 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 5.

When this 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 5 of their last 6 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.

After the lockout

Minnesota finished in last place in the Northwest Division, eight points behind Vancouver; 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 Edmonton 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 Slovakian Pavol Demitra. Niklas Bäckström was the starting goalie for the Wild after previous starter Manny Fernandez sprained his knee on Jan. 20. Fernandez played for the first time since the sprain on Tuesday, March 6th and was removed after allowing three goals in two periods in the Wild's 3-0 loss to San Jose. Josh Harding, was brought up from the Wild's minor-league 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 Colorado in the first round as 6th and 3rd seed (as in the 2003 playoffs), but this time the roles were reversed, as this time the Wild held home-ice advantage. However, Minnesota came up short, being ousted in six games by the Avalanche.

During the offseason 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.

Team Information

Jerseys

The Wild home jersey uses the primary logo within a circle with the words 'Minnesota Wild' in the circle, on a primarily red jersey. The away jersey uses the primary logo without the circle on a predominantly white jersey.

Ownership

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. The NHL’s Board of Governors officially approved Craig 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 minor league 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. The partnership still owns the Minnesota Swarm of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). Along with the Wild and the Swarm, 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. On January 10, 2008, it was announced that the franchise is being sold to former Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold.

Season-by-season record

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Wild. For the full season-by-season history, see 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

Season GP W L T OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
2003-04 82 30 29 20 3 83 188 183 1035 5th, Northwest Did not qualify
2004-05 Season cancelled due to 2004–05 NHL lockout
2005-061 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)

1 As of the 2005-06 NHL season, all games will have a winner; the OTL column includes SOL (Shootout losses).

Notable players

Current roster

Team captains

Note: Since joining the NHL in 2000, the Wild have never named a permanent captain. Instead, the team captaincy is rotated on a monthly basis among several of its players each season, with some players serving multiple times.


Honored Members

Hall of Famers: The Wild's 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 502 wins.

Retired Numbers: The Wild retired number 1, as a tribute to Wild Fans, on October 10, 2001. The number 99 was retired league-wide for Wayne Gretzky on February 7, 2001.

First-round draft picks

Franchise scoring leaders

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Wild player

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Marian Gaborik* RW 485 206 208 414 .85
Pierre-Marc Bouchard* RW 354 61 160 221 .62
Brian Rolston LW 241 96 106 202 .84
Wes Walz C 458 82 100 182 .40
Andrew Brunette* LW 245 54 110 164 .67
Pascal Dupuis LW 334 67 74 141 .42
Filip Kuba D 357 33 99 132 .37
Jim Dowd C 283 32 89 121 .43
Pavol Demitra C 139 40 78 118 .85
Antti Laaksonen RW 323 55 63 118 .37

NHL awards and trophies

Jack Adams Award

Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award

William M. Jennings Trophy

Franchise individual records

See also

References

External links

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