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A brief history: Minnesota Wild

by Michael Stainkamp
The Wild began play in 2000, becoming the first NHL franchise in Minnesota since the North Stars moved to Dallas following the 1993 season. The state was granted an NHL franchise in 1997 and was to begin playing in the 2000-01 season. The team name was chosen out of a group of six finalists: Blue Ox, Freeze, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, White Bears and Wild.

The team named Jacques Lemaire coach before the 2000 season and selected Marion Gaborik with the third pick in the 2000 Entry Draft. Gaborik would go on to score the first goal in Wild history in their franchise debut, Oct. 6 in Anaheim. The biggest game of their first season was when the Stars came to town. The Xcel Energy Center was packed with a sellout crowd of over 18,000 fans as the team rode an emotional high to a 6-0 victory.

The Wild made their first playoff appearance just three seasons into existence in 2003. That year they made an improbable run all the way to the Western Conference Finals, but were swept by the Ducks. The Wild made the playoffs for the second time in team history in 2007, but were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Ducks in the opening round.

The following season, the Wild made strides by winning their first ever Northwest Division. However, the ride soon ended as they lost to the Colorado Avalanche in six games.

Following the 2007-08 season, Lemaire, who had been behind the bench since the team’s inception in 2000, resigned from his coaching duties. Current coach Todd Richards was selected by new general manager Chuck Fletcher to take over, and the Wild will be looking to get back to the playoffs in his second season.

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