Paul Allen Proudly Endorses:
|THURS., JUNE 20 (subject to change)|
OPEN: LIVE FROM VIKINGS MINI CAMP
9:33: BEN LEBER/GM RICK SPIELMAN JOIN
|9:55: leber/rick stay|
|10:20: leber stays/chipmunk story?|
|10:33: SPORTS ESSENTIALS/NBA FINALS|
|10:53: PETE BERCICH/WOBBY JOIN FROM WP|
|11:20: see 1053|
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We celebrate the 1983 Wayzata Club Hockey Team and one of its stars, Jonny "The Mouse" Mikkelson, who once told me "Our team was so good the varsity wouldn't play us." When asked why he didn't play varsity Mouse said, "Too little." Cutest ever. So, we salute the greatest Club Hockey Team ever, a squad so vaunted even Jim Craig's Miracle team wanted nothing to do with it. Trottier, Bossy, Gretzky, Messier ... dead! Long live the 1983 Wayzata Club Hockey team!
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NHL DRAFT B/B ...
Even though we are closer to the 4th of July than Memorial Day, the NHL is still extremely intriguing to hard-core hockey fans. The playoffs have been outstanding. The Cup final is shaping up to be a classic with two classic, old-school squads. Two of the best uniforms in hockey too. Once the Finals are over, the much-anticipated NHL draft is next. Well, it’s probably as anticipated as the new phone books arriving at your house in that plastic bag which 98% of people just toss it into the recycling bin, but I digress….
That leaves Halifax Moosehead Nathan MacKinnon going to the hockey hotbed Florida Panthers. Me and my hockey-playing buddies have gone to visit Halifax for the past 8 years. Through business and friendships with Moosehead owner Bobby Smith (yes, former North Star Bobby Smith), we go up to Halifax, play against Moose coaching staff, trainers, and yes owner. We get our butts kicked. Hitting many of the local watering holes, golf, boat rides, more watering holes and going to Moosehead games is included. The Mooseheads got to the QMJHL finals against Sid the Kid back in ’05. Then got really bad. Then, through multiple trades, this year Bobby Smith got the Mooseheads to win the “Q”, then the coveted (well, in Canada anyway) Memorial Cup. Nathan MacKinnon being the main reason (hat trick in final game.) Smith traded 3 first-rounders for MacKinnon. Worth every penny. Projected to go right after the Shattuck-St. Mary product MacKinnon will be Jonathan Druin. He will go to Tampa Bay. I have seen these guys play in person and they’ve been jaw-droppingly good. (yea, I even have a #22 MacKinnon Moosehead t-shirt…)
I would love to see Chuck Fletcher make a move to get the 2nd pick, but it would cost the farm. The Wild don’t have the farm. It won’t happen. So, long story longer, you have read it here first. Nathan MacKinnon will be the best player in the NHL in a few years. The thing that sucks is it will be for a team nobody cares about, the freaking Florida Panthers.
(I’m guessing this will be the only NHL draft-related material on this website. PA, if you were going to break this down too, I apologize…)
I hate this time of the year. I loved this time of the year the last two years when the football team won nine and lost 23 because it was mentally taxing, we rarely won, 2010 had the most distractions in the history of the team and, quite honestly, at times it became difficult to machinate on the product because the games didn't matter.
This year was different, though. This year's Vikings were not expected to do much, started swiftly, regressed to the proverbial mean middle of the year and finished full of fire. I swear, when we handled St. Louis and CHRISTIAN ran in for that gritty-and-game TD, then when we went to to Houston and blasted one of the game's better outfits and came home and closed out the dream of making the postseason by beating Green Bay, I felt we were a win at Lambeau from at least going to the NFC Championship game.
Then I caught wind Ponder's inclusion in the game last night was very much in question. Breaking-news hounds went to texting and calling me for nuggets and should know by now I don't share. I didn't respond because it's almost like I didn't want to believe we actually were going to be sans our starting QB for the first playoff game since 2009.
I know losing Ponder isn't exactly like operating without BRADY, RODGERS, BREES, ELI, PEYTON or FAVRE, but he was playing with zest and zeal and finally had become a true leader of an offense that was run-first, pass-maybe. I wanted Christian to finish what ADRIAN started, and it wasn't meant to be. The inside of his right arm still was badly bruised from the MORGAN BURNETT helmet-to-arm shot he took a week ago, and it was clear to anybody in the know he couldn't have gutted it out.
So, here comes JOE WEBB, the trick from UAB. Joe never really stood a chance of leading this team to a win, I knew it into the game but fooled myself into believing we might find a way to shock the football world.
Then I saw his first short-hop pass to JENKINS when Michael was open by GB's five and I knew it was going to be a tall order. When he badly overthrew JEROME SIMPSON middle of the field when Simpson streaked by SAM SHIELDS I then knew it was curtains on the season, and Green Bay was advancing and we weren't.
He really had little chance to succeed. Seriously, he was a 57 percent guy into the game with twice the picks as TDs and hadn't thrown a pass in a game since New Year's Day, 2012. His training camp and preseason were bad, and that's the last memory I had of the 2012 Joe Webb. I thanked him for the effort after the game and went around the locker room and thanked most players for their hard work and kindness to me all year.
Adrian Peterson hugged me and thanked me for the big calls. BLAIR WALSH said he can't wait for next year and guaranteed we'd be better. RICK SPIELMAN gave me a hug and had nothing to say. He did a wonderful job with the draft and gave us plenty off which to build. JOHN CARLSON looked mentally fatigued and I told him given his preseason injuries " he never had a chance this year." The Litchfield native didn't disagree.
Great group these 2012 Minnesota Vikings. I tweeted it's the kindest and sweetest bunch I had been around during my 11 years calling games for the team. I meant it. The 2009 team had rock-star appeal and is the best with whom I have worked, but that thing stopped and started with Brett Favre. We killed teams. TARVARIS JACKSON mopped up like a long reliever for a superstar baseball team. That team had some unstoppable to it.
The playoff-bound 2004 team worked on a RED MCCOMBS shoestring budget and was a wild, street-ball-appeal unit that played of the emotion of HC MIKE TICE. The 2008 division-winning team was good-not-great and was one of several CHILDRESS-led teams that lacked personality but found a way to get things done.
This one had to work extra hard for everything it achieved. To fight back from 6-and-6 and win out to make the playoffs capped the greatest turnaround in franchise lore. Ponder went from reliable to skittish to wonderful. Then, boom, he was gone. Couldn't get back on the field where he had his last terrible game. Couldn't make good on the bad pick to Burnett early third quarter December 2nd that cost us a legit chance at an 11-and-5 year. Instead, he was relegated to motivating and assisting his back up, and that must have been tough to absorb.
I am bred to work and raise kids, and I pour everything I have into those things. Even though 30 hours a week of work drops off and the joy of the children will increase, I really wanted this thing to keep going. Maybe I'll spend more offseason time at Winter Park with the studs at the Vikings Entertainment Network and sitting in the cafeteria learning what will go into the 2013 plan?
For now, today is my 47th birthday and I'll put the pain, emptiness and disdain of the season ending aside until I 'Montage Monday with BRIAN MICKNIGHT'S "One Last Cry." To quote RICK PITINO -- "It was a nice run."