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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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f the Wild were Judge Charles H. Older, the judge that sent Charles Manson to the clink: “2 weeks in the workhouse and 1 month probation!”
About to jet to day two of Vikings mini camp and prepare to do #92Noon there tomorrow. Saw a bunch of cool things yesterday, and this time of the year always is fun because you see stuff start to develop. Here are some things I still am thinking about post 'camp:
-- CHRISTIAN PONDER and GREG JENNINGS. There were multiple times the first offense would give way to CASSEL et al and 15 and 7 would chat extensively. Jennings would gesture with his hands, kind of slicing through the air and indicating what a certain route looked like.
"Greg has seen a lot," Ponder told me yesterday. "His experience will help us all."
Jennings has climbed to the top in that he won a Super Bowl, and even though he is not as fast as he used to be he'll help (a) loosen things for MVP and (b) stay on Ponder to hold up his part of the bargain.
With Jennings savvy, RUDOLPH'S domination in tight quarters and PATTERSON'S quickness I am not sure how easy it will be to blitz Ponder this season. If they guess right and get through when he goes on a seven-step drop he has the ability to run from it and hit quality stock on "hot routes."
Recognition and poise are things hopefully Ponder is developing this offseason. He seemed brain-boggled and tired when I encountered him yesterday after practice on a hot, sticky day, but it's good MUSGRAVE is tearing him down to make him better. Christian Ponder's improvement may be our key to winning the division.
-- THE LINEBACKERS. GREENWAY, our best 'backer and one of the game's best tacklers, is out until training camp. That means MARVIN MITCHELL is getting starting reps and for sure is trying to win a OLB job. The team also had former Packer DESMOND BISHOP in for a look today, and as KEVIN SIEFERT of espn.com pointed out, he could be auditioning for ILB or OLB. He's off an awful, awful hamstring injury so this may be a longshot he joins, but if he's right it would help.
If Desmond Bishop can change games like he did in 2010 and 2011 we can sit on rookie GERALD HODGES and let him grow at a slower pace. That's the preferred mode of attack for me. Same goes for Patterson, a receiver who can slowly roll up to speed with other legit options around him. I am not a fan of throwing secondary draft selections into the cliched fire right away of you don't have to, so if Bishop joins and/or Mitchell looks the part that's good because we can wait for Hodges to figure it out.
-- TRAVIS BOND. He is a massive OL from UNC we housed in the seventh round. Kid played on a good OL at UNC and is opening eyes at Winter Park. One person in the know yesterday told me even though he's built like a tackle (6-6, 300-ish pounds) he'll be best suited in our league at guard. That means he may pressure CHARLIE JOHNSON or BRANDON FUSCO for playing time if he continues to improve.
Our OL already is the best in the division, and Bond perhaps would upgrade our road-grating appeal. They like him over there and he has cut significant weight to play G in the NFL.
-- ADAM THIELEN. Kid is a stone-cold Rube. Met him yesterday and all he could talk about was KFAN for a few minutes before our interview.
"I grew up listening to you and the 'FAN up in Detroit Lakes, and it's a pleasure to meet the voice of the Vikings," he said.
Me: "Aw, aren't you kind. I am hearing great things about you, so keep doing what you are doing, kiddo."
The Mankato Mavs product stuck out in rookie camp, but I didn't take it seriously. Then an offensive starter complimented him to me during OTAs and I took notice. I went out of my way to follow the undrafted longshot wearing 19 yesterday, and he caught absolutely everything thrown his way. He's sneaky fast and rather reliable from the "slot" against backups. I am hoping today to see him get run against first- or second-team guys, but thst probably will not happen.
He's still a longshot to make the final 53, but after the preferred four, which includes SIMPSON and WRIGHT, that last spot will be a battle, and this kid has a puncher's chance at making memories. I'd love to see him make the team; quality kid.
-- SECOND-YEAR SWAGGER. DC ALAN WILLIAMS, WR Jerome Simpson and CB CHRIS COOK all had unique years last season and for various reasons. Williams was in his first season as defensive coordinator, Simpson was off a suspension, splashed when he kept killing BILL BENTLEY at Detroit, then played hurt the rest of the year. Cook was off the awful off-field transgression.
They all have settled down and big things are expected. Cook was the best DB on the field for the majority of yesterday's camp, and his coverage skills really stuck out to me. He only allowed one pass to be caught when thrown in his direction, and you can tell the young man is maturing professionally and more importantly personally off the EP incident a year and change ago.
Simpson looks sleek and fast and now as a third-option receiver will do some damage. I was very much in favor of the team re-signing him this offseason, and given the best CBs will focus on Jennings and Patterson we should be able to make some money with Jerome Simpson.
That, too, goes for Wright, the Arkansas kid who missed half the season last year, then had to replace the popular-and-talented PERCY HARVIN. Tough debut spot for the kid on a run-first team but he came together nicely as the season dragged on. Jariius will play a bunch this year and will be better than he was last season.
And so will we. Mission: Meadowlands.