Um, yay for you, Kings.

I’m a Minnesota Wild fan, so when I say I have a certain expertise in finding something to love in even the most mediocre teams, Wild fandom is my credential.

A lot of people who consider themselves hockey fans have a distinct, “Oh right, that team” glaze-eyed reaction when I say I’m a Wild fan. I know that look because it’s the one I make when someone tells me they’re a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.

You don’t want to say, “Oh, that’s lame” because that’s their team and you’re not a complete a-hole, but you also know nothing about them because they’re never relevant.

So, to get you up to speed if you’re one of these folks, the team has a new coach in Mike Yeo this season after two really lousy seasons under Todd Richards, and one really lousy season under Jacques Lemaire.

Yeo was the coach in Houston last season, so I got to know his style both on and off the ice, and I’m a huge fan. Smart hockey guy, swagger out the wazoo, and the most keen instinct for managing the people around him of anybody I’ve ever met.

He just knows how to push the right buttons to motivate, comfort, or inspire. Heck, he even used his magic on me a couple of times and by the end of the season, I would have run through walls for him as willingly as any of his players.

But now he’s up with the big club and, after a 5-game win streak, the Wild are back to looking like they did the last 3 seasons: Like they only give about half a crap.

So I watch and I wonder, how will Yeo get them going? How do you make a team get the level of “hard” required to win consistently?

How do you get them amped to battle on the ice when the off-ice life of an NHLer is, at least relative to other leagues, very very comfortable?

I have some ideas for reminding the guys that if you want the NHL lifestyle, you better earn it by “paying the price physically” as Yeo said last night:

  • No more fancy hotels. I kept seeing shots of the JW Marriott there by Staples Center where they were beat 5-2 (and it wasn’t that close) by the Kings last night. But I’m sure there’s a Courtyard Marriott with perfectly acceptable beds somewhere nearby that’s more appropriate for the team’s effort level in that game. Enjoy your hardwired internet, ya sissies!
  • Dress and drive to all practices. Like 6-year-olds.
  • I never saw any “rough parts of town” in Minneapolis or St. Paul when I was there, but I’m sure they’re there, and the boys should all have to live there. Keep ‘em on their toes, maintain a bit of an edge that living in the comfortable suburbs or well-appointed downtown condos can’t provide.
  • Give ‘em all beater cars to drive. You want your BMW? Then you freaking go into the dirty areas and maintain possession of that puck!
  • Make them sleep on pillow cases imprinted with Yeo’s stern face.

Believe it or not, this is only about 50% stern face.

  • Have an apology circle after each loss, where each guy admits his screw-ups and apologizes to the team. Marek Zidlicky gets to go twice.
  • Go to an actual store to buy your suits. Losers schlep their firm butts to Men’s Wearhouse. Winners get the Suit Guy in your locker room.
  • Exploding breezers that literally catch on fire if you aren’t playing hard enough. Yeo has his finger on the trigger, so you better work, Scorchass!

I’m sure the NHLPA has rules about some of this stuff, but a girl can dream right? Some nights, my team just doesn’t deserve the fluffy comfort that NHLers are afforded.

I want them to suffer a little for how I and my fellow fans die a little inside every time they fail to show up for a game.

Speaking of which, I hear the bus system in Los Angeles is pretty good. Maybe the Wild should take that to their game against the Ducks this afternoon.

Then at least if they don’t show up this time, there will be a reasonable explanation for it.

Comments (21)

  1. Let’s expound on this a little bit, shall we?

    1. The way they played last night vs. LA, anything with ‘Marriott’ in the titke is too good for them. EconoLodge might be more appropriate. Head for the dreaded ‘toast bar’ for breakfast, boys.

    2. The Wild actually DID the ‘dress and drive’ to Wednesday’s practice at Sharks Ice in San Jose. Don’t tempt fate again…

    3. Want a conveinent rough edge? Only a block away from the ‘X’ is Dorothy Day center, a shelter complex run by Catholic Charities. They were there well before the ‘X’ became a fashionable address. Stand in the soup line if you don’t score, Koivu.

    4. Love the apology circle bit, but after Zidlicky was done, would there be time for anyone else?

    5. There are no stores in Downtown St. Paul to buy a suit. They’d have to go to the suburbs. K&G Mens’ Wear should ‘suit’ them just fine. They’re not even good enough for the Mens’ Wearhouse right now.

    6. We’ve got enough head trauma on the Wild right now. Playing with their heads up their ass in exploding breezers, would only make a bad situation that much worse.

    As for this afternoon’s contest in Anaheim? 1-800-371-LINK or metrolinktrains.com . Next time, try the train…

  2. Love these suggestions! One change I would make is instead of living in a bad neighborhood (we don’t want them beat up), they exist here, next time your up give me a call, I’ll drive you through Frog Town or the Eastside or North Minneapolis, but only with the windows up and the doors locked… but I digress. How bout just a working class neighborhood. Like mine. Almost everyone in my neighborhood stacks part time jobs or works in the trade industry or construction. Maybe being surrounded by people who work their asses off will be good motivation. And the car thing, I’ll trade one of them my 20 year old Bonniville with almost 200, 000 miles on it and I can have their new range rover.

    • Would you take the Bentley instead of the Range Rover?

    • Yeah, that approach would work as well, BG. I just kinda want them living a little scared. They’re big enough to defend themselves. Well, maybe Butch can live in the working class neighborhood. I’d worry about him. Spurge, too.

  3. WRT your #5, I think the only place you can get a suit in downtown St. Paul is the Daytons (yes I still call it Daytons). So everyone on the bus for a group trip to the burbs for suit shopping.

  4. Stern face is definitely scary. But instead of a pillow, upon which a player could drool as he slept, it ought to be on the ceiling, the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see when you wake up.

    And my Bolts need one of Guy Boucher’s crazy face. Because Guy Boucher is terrifying.

  5. I think the first thing to go is any sauna time for #9. If he wants to relax, he need to earn it.

    Second, if #1 doesn’t work, make Cullen captain. He had a poor season last year and (even without a big new contract) is trying to atone for it.

    Third, when Scandella gets back, give #3 a bird’s eye view of the ice. Sadly, he’d still have to apologize for burning the popcorn.

    Fourth, next time ‘battle’ level is like it was in LA last night, pay a visit to the Herb Brooks school of attention-getting. Nothing like a post-game practice to get the blood pumping when 60 minues of game time doesn’t.

    This lax attitude and sometimes-we-play, sometimes-we-don’t inconsistency has permeated the lineup for over 3 years. The only constant through that time is the core group of players. That, is the root cause of the problem.

    • LOVE Cullen. Fast, skilled, fearless, desperate. Wish we had 10 of him. The only guys off the hook in my mind are Spurgeon, Cullen, and…. I can’t remember the third. :) Oops.

  6. Totally agree with you, Band, and WRT!

  7. Maybe draw some eyebrows on there. Instant sternification of the facial area in the range of 25-37%.

    • I love to study his expressions. The changes are minute, but I think I’ve learned to read him pretty well. The photo above is really more of his “Bitch, Please!” face.

  8. I started reading your article, but then my eyes sort of glazed over.

    About three minutes later, I realized I was a Wild fan, too, so I ended up finishing.

  9. How about: for every shift you don’t work, you remove a piece of equipment before you next shift?

    Good read!

  10. How about going back to riding the bus? Who cares if it’ll take a week to get to LA, all aboard.

  11. Ok forgive me but “dress and drive?” Don’t know that term. Assume it means heading to the game in gear?

    Enjoyed Tea With MsConduct. Perfectly willing to have Tea With Matt Cullen. Man I miss him here in NC.

    • Yeah, like if the ice at the regular rink isn’t available for practice, they’ll dress in their locker rooms, get on a bus and drive to another rink for practice. A real pain in the ass.

  12. ….reminding the guys that if you want the NHL lifestyle, you better earn it by “paying the price physically”

    Ouch, that’s a hit in the solar plexus.
    Ouch, give up the luxe l;ive of an well paid NHL’er?
    Ouch, double ouch.
    Seems to me perfomance AND result ought to be counted.. do or be gone!
    But there would be rebellions, methinks!
    Anyway, a good read as one expects from Ms. Conduct, The Wild!

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